• Jody Kussin

In Times Like These #20 4-3-2020

Remember TGIF? When it really seemed that Friday (night) was different than all the other days and nights of the weekend, welcoming in a few days of respite and change of venue from work life to leisure life?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Our days and nights are getting mixed up and many of us are ‘not oriented’ (psychology speak) to the context in which we live – day of the week? Date on the calendar? Time of day? It all seems fluid, whereas these are the very things that should anchor us and serve as the foundation.

So – maybe make some fun plans to differentiate Saturday and Sunday from Monday etc. Create a new family tradition to mark the weekends. If you’ve all been on the computer all week long, consider letting it have a break from you (before we break them from over use!)

I’m giving and collecting tips, and not just the ones for helpers in our midst. This time in history, is unprecedented, and surely there will be a chapter or more in the social studies and history text books yet to be written. What will they say about us and our experiences in these times? Sure, the scientists and politicians will have much to say about lessons learned, and for that we will all be grateful. But what will the parents say? What are the tips for and from parents regarding supporting their families when the world is not only upside down, but, as my patient told me today, inside out, as well.

In no particular order, here are a few tips:

  1. Relax/revisit family rules. You can pick them back up again 'at some point' but many do not work for these times. RELAX RULES

  2. Build in as much private time as possible (for you too!) Perhaps an hour in your car with the phone or time in the backyard or basement. Remember, an introvert is DEPLETED from spending time with others and they/we need extra concentrated time alone.

  3. Decrease directives. Our children used to go 8-10 hours away from us at least five days per week so now that we have them as a captured audience, it's human nature to start issuing directive right/left. Try not to! (This holds for kids as well as spouses!)

  4. Try to agree on a lite schedule for weekdays vs. weekends. We are so confused – what day is today? What is the date? What time is it? To remain somewhat sane, we need to have some semblance of ‘orientation’ to time and space.

  5. Avoid the temptation to make them do the long list of 'things to do' you had for summer....yes, at some point they can clean out their drawers and bag up clothing to donate, or, or help clean out the garage. However, looks like we have AT LEAST another month in our little nests, so, refrain from doing big projects for a few more weeks. PACE YOURSELVES on PROJECTS

  6. Consider a family 'chore wheel.' Or else let each person choose their chores. Or have each person responsible for their own laundry.

  7. If the mess in their room is driving you nuts - close the door - do not look in there! Try to minimize battle grounds. (Make sure there is a de-cluttered space for schoolwork though.h)

  8. Practice the HARDEST of all parenting interventions - effective ignoring. So so so hard to do!

  9. Allow them to feel their feelings – and use their words regarding feelings. If very angry, try to intervene with ‘jump up and down’ ‘run around the backyard’ ‘throw a pillow’ ‘sit in the car and scream.’ Do not feed them our feelings. They can be very sad – there are many losses going on – and very anxious – this is a scary time – or….they also can be enjoying time with the family and not having to adhere to school life and social drama.

  10. Set up fun family activities that work but do not over do it - your child does not want family game night every night...

  11. Join them in their world - do they play games online - videogames in general - virtual reality 'stuff' - binge watch what you consider weird tv but that they enjoy. Learn the names of some of those anime characters or figure out what tiktok is all about.

  12. dTIP – do NOT take it personally. We are all in this together, stressed, worried, and trapped. Our kids’ (and partners’) reactions and behaviors are not always about us. In fact, most often, they’re not.

  13. Prepare for regression (at any/every age/stage) and practice patience. This too will pass. Someday.

  14. Make a social safety plan to ensure they do not become too isolated. Do the same for ourselves. Virtual playdates for kids, virtual wine parties for grown-ups.

Meantime - take good care of ourselves and our adult relationships.

We need one another now more than ever. Happy weekend! (Note: tomorrow is Saturday!)

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