How many times have we heard the phrase “These are unprecedented times”, and it’s true. We are going through a pandemic, something we have never experienced before and there is no manual. Especially I think of parents and children and how they are finding ways of navigating through this.
It is inevitable that there is a lot of anxiety, stress and worry at this time. Many things have been taken out of our control and there are many changes. So it is important to look at our own situations and focus on the things that we can control and most importantly stay in the here and now. One thing that we can control is ourselves and particularly our breath. Building in some form of mindfulness into the day is beneficial for children and adults.
At times when we are experiencing stress, connecting to our breath is the most useful tool as it regulates our body which in turn calms down our brains. For children, I’ve always been a fan of Relax Kids, they have some lovely guided meditations and you can find them here https://www.relaxkids.com/ . For Adults, there are many resources out there, at the moment I am enjoying Bressie’s new Podcast Wake up/Wind down which is available on Spotify and has many breathing exercises and meditations included : https://www.niallbreslin.com/podcast-wakeupwinddown
I was asked for my parenting slot on Radio Kerry this week to speak about parental stress and homeschooling, if would like to listen back here is the link to the podcast https://www.radiokerry.ie/parenting-advice-may-12th-2020/
I spoke a lot about taking the pressure off. I am hearing a lot from parents about the struggle of managing the daily routine of home life with the addition of homeschooling and for some working from home. My advice is to communicate with your child’s school if you are finding homeschooling difficult. There are many activities that count as learning and these include cooking/baking, meal planning, building with lego, playing board games, checking the weather forecast, doing puzzles, reading, writing stories, colouring/drawing/painting, making arts and crafts, imaginative play, writing letters/emails, gardening, cleaning and doing jobs around the house. I came across a lovely simple example of how making lunch provides learning-
1.Write a shopping or ingredients list (Literacy) 2. Do the budget for how much lunch will cost (Maths) 3. Design a menu (Creativity) 4. Walk to the shop (Exercise) 5. Pick herbs or flowers to put on the table (Nature) 6. Help prepare lunch and set the table (Social, Life skills)
Parents are also having to manage their own emotions as well as their children’s. It all feels a bit too much at times. At this time the message is that good enough parenting is key, taking the pressure off and accepting that there will be times of rupture. Ruptures happen in every relationship but the important part is the repair. What this might look like is saying sorry for losing your cool, or for not having patience in a situation. It helps children to recognise that everyone makes mistakes and it ensures that children are not left with feelings such as worry, rejection or anger.
Despite the negatives, for me, the positive in this is that we have been given an opportunity to slow down and connect. Many of us live very busy lives filled with school, work, extra curricular activities and social events. This is an opportunity to deepen our connection with children through play, being outdoors and enjoying each others company. Most importantly, it is a time to look at ways of taking the pressure off!
Until next time,