Depending on where you live you may be in week 6, 7, 8 or more of this “stay home” recommendation due to the Coronavirus. You might be working from home and trying to support your kids learning online while trying to maintain some kind of “normalcy”. Or you might be on the medical front lines or part of the “essential” group that keeps the world turning. Thank you for all that you do and are doing no matter which group you are in.
Although a little more warning that this was coming would have been helpful, we are where we are and it looks like it will continue for a while. Please don’t be disheartened, this can be seen as an opportunity in many ways.
First, just a note about all that productivity stuff you’ve been seeing. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t doing everything that someone else thinks you should be doing. No guilt here. We’ve all seen our routines and schedules gone, our self-care rituals moved to the bottom of the list and our patience replaced with overwhelm. Not to mention the disorganization that is building up due to our lack of time. It’s all okay as long as it is all temporary and is not causing you more stress.
If you or your children have ADHD or ADHD symptoms then the change in structure or schedule can be very upsetting. Home is where the distractions are, so it can be more difficult to focus. The online schedules that I have seen change every day and a struggling working memory may not be able to remember it all. Also switching things from paper and pencil to online requires the ability to think flexibly and that can be very challenging for an ADHD brain. More information can be found in last month’s newsletter here.
Let’s talk about two areas that are important to this “next normal.” Relationships and Structure.
Relationships are important – your relationship with yourself, your family, co-workers and friends. This “next normal” has freed up some responsibilities (chauffeuring to after school activities, commuting, overbooking, etc.) and made it possible to spend more time with your family. It has also added responsibilities like helping your children learn, figuring out how to do your job remotely while keeping the kids busy and making do without the support services you may depend on.
Next Normal: Relationships
- You’ll have to “steal” time for yourself every day to make sure you are staying healthy in mind and body since everyone is at home. Taking care of yourself is important so you can care for your family too.
- Pay attention to your state of mind and honor it. If things are getting too stressful or you just want to curl up on the couch, then do it. It is your mind’s way of saying, “stop, I’m feeling stressed (overwhelmed, frustrated, scared, etc.) and I need a break.
- Reach out to family and friends. Virtual dinner parties, birthday drivebys, or just a call to say hello can do wonders for you and the recipient.
- Limit your “bad news exposure.” It can wear you down and increase your stress level which can lower your immunity.
Keep some structure in your day. Sure, it was great to stay in pajamas for the first few days and catch up on Netflix, but if you are still in that stage – it is time to get back on track. You may not have noticed the subtle effect on your mood, patience or ability to get work done but it was there. Children thrive with structure as evidenced in every preschool. It helps them know what to expect and that reduces any anxiety. When there are no routines, then outbursts and meltdowns can occur. The CDC wrote an article on creating structure and rules you can find here. Adding structure back into your day can help you get more done, reduce your stress and make the kids happy. Coaching can help you clarify your direction and set benchmarks so you can see and appreciate your progress.
Next Normal: Structure
- Make a schedule for the week that includes the times you and your kids will need to be online for something and post it where everyone can see it. Include family time and some outside play time. Don’t over plan but focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are the highest priority or would make you feel the best if they were done.
- Make sure everyone is up and dressed and has time for breakfast before the day’s responsibilities start.
- Keep up with the laundry and the dishes. A quick “pick-up” every night gets things back to normal so you are ready for the next day. Clutter causes stress, wastes time and eats up your energy. (Thinking about doing something uses the same amount of energy as actually doing it. Clutter causes a low grade fight or flight response in the body, lowering your ability to fight off infections.)
- Plan out your meals and keep mealtimes at regular times. Kids often don’t realize they are hungry or thirsty until they physically feel it, and then they will grab the first thing they see. Keep them on an even keel with meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. The brain uses the most energy of any organ in the body (up to 60% for young kids). Don’t allow yourself to skip a meal just to get something done.
Although it may be a while until things return to something that resembles our past, we have the opportunity to forge ahead and make things better rather than dwelling on missing the past. Coaching can help you move forward in a direction that serves you. Isn’t it time for you?
“Your dreams are calling for a bigger YOU to show up.”