Updated: Mar 23, 2020
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Perception is key. Attitude of gratitude. We’ve all heard the cliches. But in light of recent events, I think we all have a chance to take a step back and evaluate what is really important. Aside from the financial effects, which are sure to be immediately devastating to some (and our economy as a whole) and surely will trickle down to others, there are worse things than being forced to spend time with the ones we love.
Keeping Things In Perspective
For most Americans the virus has caused an overall disruption in our daily lives. For many it has been a source of anxiety, fear and economic distress. For others there have been disappointments, cancelled plans and vacations ruined. But if this is the price of saving lives, I will gladly pay it. And maybe, if we use this time of being sequestered as an opportunity to downshift from the busy pace of normal life and reconnect with those nearest and dearest to us, we will emerge from this so-called “social distancing” with stronger family bonds and a new perspective.
Right now, we need to pivot. Whatever the future holds, we need to focus on the here and now. Especially those of us with children. Whatever we are feeling, we need to be able to meet this challenge with fortitude and composure, for their sake's. We are their safe place, their shelter from the storm. I’m not saying it’s not okay to talk about what we are feeling, but if we are freaking out, it will be so much harder for them to cope with something they don’t understand. So let’s all take a deep breath. We can do this!
Rolling With It
Many working moms, suddenly finding themselves at home with their toddler or preschooler for the foreseeable future, have taken to social media to ask advice on how to create enriching experiences for them, since so many “go-to’s” are off the table. I love how the community of stay-at-home-moms are embracing them and offering encouragement and ideas. I’d like to jump in and offer my own, should you or someone you know find yourself in this transitional period.
Make a Plan - If you are a working mom, you are already a master at scheduling so you are going to be awesome at this! Children thrive on structure and routine and your days will run much more smoothly if you can get in a “flow.” Think about what you would like your days to consist of, then put a pen to paper. Most people start with meal times, then fill in time for learning time, outdoor play, free play, nap/quiet time, reading time, and limited screen time (I recommend saving this for the afternoon, when you need a break). When I found myself at home with two kids under two, I purchased a curriculum to help me with structured learning time for my toddler (you can read about my experience here) but there are so many resources available to you on the web from sensory play to academics. I personally love Busy’s Toddler’s blend of hand-on learning.
There’s An App for That - The fact that we are being encouraged to avoid public places means we need to figure out alternative ways of doing things. For example, we still need to buy food, but instead of shopping at the grocery store, you might consider a Wal-mart pickup, or Instacart, to reduce your exposure. Library closed? Amazon will deliver books to your door or you can download an app like Kindle or Vooks or stream episodes of Reading Rainbow. Feeling isolated and need to talk to another human? Facetime or video chat with a friend; they probably need it too! Having anxious thoughts and need help coping? Try Talkspace to connect with a therapist or YouVersion, a Bible app with guided reading plans for whatever you are facing in your season of life. Technology can be a lifesaver, but...
Be Vigilant About Screen Time - I’m not just talking about your kids. Finding a healthy balance with technology starts with you. Our phones are magnets for our attention, but we need to model the behavior we want to see. When possible, use media together and take the opportunity to talk about your values. Turn off notifications to minimize distractions. Set boundaries for work vs. family time. Our children need our attention. Then YOU decide when you want to allow them to watch TV or use a device and for how long. Use it as a parenting tool, not the default way to pass the time.
Get Moving - It is hard on everyone when the cabin fever sets in. The cure is to get moving. Whether that is a dance party in the living room (Shake It Off never fails), some kid-friendly yoga videos, a walk around the neighborhood or a game of tag in the backyard, get your blood pumping. Spring is in the air and a little sunshine and physical activity will do everyone a world of good (just don’t forget your SPF!).
Deepen Connections Through Reading - Use this time to establish a reading routine if you don’t already have one. Picture a scene from Little Women or Little House on the Prairie, where the children listen with rapt attention to a text being read aloud. Now picture our modern era where individuals in the same household are alone in separate rooms with their screens. In The Enchanted Hour, Megan Cox describes the difference, “where the screen tends to separate family members by sending each to his own private virtual reality, reading together draws people closer and unites them.” See my favorite books to read to babies and toddlers here.
As I reflect on this strange situation we find ourselves in, I really can take an attitude of gratitude. I’m thankful for this community where we can share ideas and support each other. I am grateful that I have all of the comforts of home and that my family is safe with me. I’m looking forward to having my husband (a teacher, with a teacher’s salary) around for an extended Spring Break. But most of all, I’m glad that I know where to turn in times of trouble. The Bible urges us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified… for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)" I certainly respect the beliefs of others, but for me, it is a blessed assurance to know who holds the future. His name is Jesus,