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  • Jody Kussin

IN TIMES LIKE THESE #1 3-15-20

It is an upside downy time. There are breadlines around the block, in the rain, in L.A. – not to buy tickets to an event, but to buy food at Trader Joe’s. We are out of so many oranges and lemons I’m wondering if scurvy was a real thing and if it will come back to us, and not simply to the pirates who live among us.

More contagious than the actual virus, though is our fear. It is VERY CATCHY. Mood contagion anxiety is a real thing. Google it. The information herein is NOT about the science of the pandemic. You can turn to the CDC web site or LA County Department of Public Health or anyone who tweets (although, do not confuse the tweets with research.) This is a little bit of parenting help, for anyone so interested. Because, in this unusual time, where does it leave us? And in particular, where does it leave us as PARENTS??

First, be patient. We have to stay calm, even if we are not feeling calm, because our tone sets the mood for the family. (Of course, if you have TV and Alexa talking COVID-19 all day, and that contributes to the tone as well, but mostly, your children watch you and listen to you when you think they are not, and then they internalize your feelings and take them on as their own. The other is simply noise. But you, you are information they disseminate.) So, walk as if you are calm. Talk as if you are calm. Breathe deeply as if you are calm. Make decisions from a place of calm, not calamity. Practice being patient. It’s a learned skill and here’s your chance to master it.


Second, be prepared. You live in California, so you have been prepared for years. You kept your gas tank half full since the Northridge Earthquake of 1994 and you kept snow chains in the trunk since you were stuck in the ‘once in a life- time’ third snow storm going over Highway 5 on the Grapevine. Your kids practice ‘shelter in place’ at school in addition to stop, drop, roll and where to line up on the yard after the fire alarm goes off. Preparation is not PANIC and it’s not HOARDING and it’s not crossing state lines to find toilet paper. (Note – if you run out of toilet paper – use a rag, or an old shirt, or a towel, or a dish cloth, or a Kleenex, or a baby wipe, or just about anything you can think of…just make sure you have laundry detergent – but – note – if your run out of that, use soap!) So be prepared emotionally (practice acting calm) and medically (make sure you can access prescription meds for you, the kids, and your dog and that you have a list of all meds on hand for everyone) and financially (cash cash cash on hand) and nutritionally (soup, tuna, pasta, beans, rice, some fruits/veggies, repeat) and physically (make your home environment as clutter free as possible, not to mention clean…) and again, emotionally. More on that later.


Third, be pretty darn funny. Maintain (or find) a sense of humor and whimsy. Seriously. Lots of fun opportunities come along with raising children, it’s just easy to forget that and instead, go straight to MAJOR WORRYING. I appreciate MAJOR WORRYING, being very competent as a worrier myself. However, worrying results in emotional and cognitive paralysis and, turns out, worrying does NOT fix things. Contrary to mom-belief, you can take off the backpack of worrying you’ve been carrying since you first became a parent, put it down in a corner, and leave it there for at least a few hours at a time. It will still be there for you, but, put it down.


And last (for today), fourth – be practical. This is a marathon not a sprint, so do NOT use up all your good the first day and on the other hand, be aware that your children all will reach a point, EVERY DAY, where they have used up their good. Let everyone have their moment and do not dramatize. Let some things go. Be gentle with yourself first, and then with them. And if you want to learn something cool, learn how and when to ignore. It is NOT EASY. But – in these times, it’s a good skill to practice!


Today’s Tip: Weekends are still weekends. School days are still school days. Create a routine that works for you and your family and make sure there is ‘independent, private time’ for kids and adults as well as interactive, together time daily. You will need a nice balance of both!

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