8 Tips To Go From Surviving To Thriving In Quarantine
In the words of the amazing Brene Brown ” we are in an FFT”. What is an FFT, well my sweet friend, if your little’s are reading along with you please excuse yourself to read this part alone. An FFT is a fucking first time. Excuse the language but as we travel through this unprecedented time I feel it accurately describes how uncomfortable, uncertain, stressful, and overwhelming these last few weeks of quarantine have been.
I mean, wow. Right?
If you’re in the same boat as most parents in the world, you’ve had to accommodate the fact that your kids were suddenly and unexpectedly given an extra four months of summer vacation. And to top it all off, they’re unable to leave the house.
Please know I adore my little humans. Every parent I know loves their kids more than anything in the world, but that doesn’t mean that having them at home all day, every day, for weeks and months at a time, is easy.
So I think we can all agree that these are extraordinary times. They require some extraordinary measures to keep everyone sane and halfway functional. For some of us, that probably means some big adjustments to the usual routine.
This whole situation is, obviously, beyond crazy and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do here, I get that. I just wanted to give you some tips to keep your children feeling secure and rested. And to help you keep your sanity while you’re at it.
1| Stick to some level of normalcy.
Have you ever wondered why babies can engage in the same boring little pastime for hours on end? Why a game of peek-a-boo can make them squeal with delight as heartily on the hundredth time as it does on the first? It’s because, at least in part, their expectations are being met. They watch you put your hands over your face, then think to themselves, “Oh hey! I know what happens next! She’s going to move her hands away, and her face is going to be right there!” And sure enough, the hands drop, Mama gives her the familiar “Peek-a-boo!” and baby thinks to herself, “Oh, I knew it! I knew that was going to happen!”
Routines give kids that same sense of security. Knowing what’s on the schedule provides them with a road map for their day. That knowledge makes them confident and puts their minds at ease, so even though we may need to make some serious concessions, there’s a lot to be said for keeping things predictable and consistent wherever possible.
2| Early to bed, early to rise…
Now, since many of us are no longer under any obligation to get up for work and school, we might get to thinking that this is a good opportunity for everybody to catch up on some sleep by turning off the morning alarms. It’s tempting, but sticking to the usual bedtimes and wake up times is really important. Predictability and structure are, again, sources of comfort for our kids, so even though there’s no morning bell, it’s still a good idea to keep things on schedule. Besides, things are eventually going to go back to normal, and trying to get them back onto their usual schedule is going to be a challenge. You’re better off just sticking to the tried and true.
3| Three meals a day keep the doctor away.
When it comes to mealtimes, again, try to stay as consistent as possible. Few things affect our bodies’ sense of timing like when we eat. By allowing meal and snack times to fluctuate too much can upend your little one’s schedule. Sugary snacks will likely leave them with too much energy come bedtime and the occasional upset tummy, so keep an eye on how much junk food they’re getting into.
4| Get out in nature.
With everyone being housebound, your kids are likely going to have a ton of excess energy. With no playground to play and climb on and no friends to chase around, you’re going to need to get creative to help them tire themselves out. Getting outside is always a good idea. Sunlight will help maintain the circadian rhythm. A bike ride or even a brisk walk can help reduce feelings of confinement and keep you and your kids from going stir crazy. But on those rainy days, building a temporary indoor obstacle course out of furniture and cushions can be a great project to keep your kids occupied and provide them with some stuff to climb on too.
5|Find grace with allowing the screen time.
Let go of the guilt you might be holding around letting your little ones sit and watch a little (or a lot) something. In my case, and in the case of nearly every other parent I know, we’ve slightly upped screen time. The days are long mama, and if a little screen time allows you a few moments to find your balance and calm, I promise everyone is better for it. Those extra screen time for the kids might just be the difference between a peaceful afternoon and a mutual meltdown.
Just one caveat; screens emit a lot of blue light which can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. So go ahead and let your kids indulge in extra screen time, but turn them off two hours before bedtime. (The screens, not your kids.)
6| Just Breath
Breath in……. and exhale. Follow your breath through your nose, watch your chest rise and then fall again letting that breath release. Kids are always watching and observing our every move and when they can look to us to find a calm in the moments that feel impossibly hectic, they learn. Deep breathing exercises during bedtime routine can help to settle children down at the end of the day. You don’t necessarily have to start practicing meditation with your littles – although I highly recommend it, but deep breathing games can actually be a lot of fun! Check out Coping Skills for Kids for a ton of great ideas.
7| Don’t panic.
Outside of the sleep realm, there are a couple of other tips I’d like to offer you. As you undoubtedly know, kids are perceptive little human beings. They likely know that there’s something serious happening at the moment. They might not bring it up too much, but there’s likely something pinging around in the back of their heads that has them a little bit on edge. This can be amplified if they see that their parents are concerned and on edge as well. So try to keep the atmosphere honest but calm. I know it’s not easy given the circumstances, but stressed out kids aren’t going to improve the situation. If they have questions, of course answer them, but your attitude towards things will work wonders in keeping their minds at ease. Keep being that fierce consistent leader they constantly look to when everything else seems uncertain.
8| Guard their hearts and keep it positive.
Last but not least, try not to watch or listen to the news with the kids around. They’re always listening and hearing terms like, “death toll,” and “fatal disease” is going to increase their stress levels. It’s important to stay informed, but do so after they’ve gone to bed.
I look forward to getting back to a time when we can discuss less serious things with each other. I hope we can look on this time as one where we all came together (even while we’re so far apart). That we all did what we could to make the best of a really bad situation. Until then, wash your hands, stay at home, and make the best of this quarantine. Who knows. We may likely look back on this time as the best opportunity to reconnect with our kids. To get grounded in nature, and to feel grateful for every connection, and embrace we make.