Same Storm, Different Boat
With the latest school closures, many parents are feeling overwhelmed, distraught and fearful for the future.
I hear people throwing around the phrase “we’re all in this together”. But the truth is, we may all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat…
- Some of us are floating along in a life boat built for four, and others have a yacht filled to the brim with friends, family and caregivers to offer support.
- Some of us are floating along on a piece of wood with only enough room for one or two, and some of us feel like we are drowning.
- Some of us are single parents trying to work and parent and home school all at the same time. Some of us have partners to share the burden.
- Some of us are health care or essential workers who can’t take a day off and have to find emergency day care or help.
- Some of us are teachers, relieved for our safety or infuriated to be teaching online school again.
- Some of us have family or caregivers helping out, and some of us can’t work because 'we' need to be home with our children.
- Some of us plan activities and crafts to fill our children’s days, and some of us have given up on home schooling and just can’t do it anymore.
- Some of us have young children who have can’t sit on Zoom for more than a minute at a time. Some of us have children with special needs. Some of us have older children who are missing their friends, their lifeline.
- And most of us are just so burnt out that we just don’t know how to handle even two more weeks of this.
But whatever boat you’re in, please know you are not alone.
We will get through this, just like we got through the last few times this happened. We may not feel like we are flourishing, but we will survive.
Our children learn more from their parents’ actions than their words. So for your own sake and their’s it’s vitally important to find ways to care for and soothe ourselves during this difficult time.
Make sure that you prioritize your mental health
- Find the small moments for self-care and to find joy. Take a breath, take a walk, move your body in a joyful way, journal, meditate. Take one moment to connect to the rituals that bring you joy, which keep you balanced.
- Put your survival, your mental health first. Divide and conquer, plan and find life hacks that work for you and your family.
- Focus on your feelings and thoughts. Just as thoughts can drive feelings, feelings can influence thoughts. Notice today if your expectations are based on how you feel. If you are feeling anxious, do you assume that means something bad will happen? Remind yourself that your feelings may have nothing to do with what will actually happen.
- Thoughts are not facts. We often assume our thoughts are simply observations about what is true. Be on the lookout today for interpretations you’re making about yourself and the world. Realize that these thoughts are stories your mind has created that may or may not be true.
- Assume the best. Most likely someone will do something that annoys you today. When that happens, aim to make the kindest possible assumptions or interpretations about the person’s actions. See how this reaction affects your peace of mind.
- This too shall pass. Remember when you’re overwhelmed and frustrated that it is not the kids you are frustrated with, but the system. Take a breath and let it go. Take a breath and let it go.
- Take care of yourself. Plan one nice thing you can do for yourself today. I know the day is busy and the house is full. Take a minute or ten. Breathe, make a cup of tea, go for a walk, listen to some music, dance it out. If it’s hard to plan something out, imagine you are making a plan for someone you deeply care about.
- Open to Joy. Even if the day is hard, find ways to smile. Think of ways to add some fun into your life today. It’s easy to lose our sense of playfulness when we are busy and stressed. Adopt a lighter touch and make room for play.
- Keep a pen and paper by your bed. In the morning, write down three positive and accurate thoughts about things that might go right today. Practice filling your mind with thoughts that serve you well. In the evening, write down three things you’re grateful for about your day. Allow what you write to fill your mind as you lay down to sleep. It could be something as simple as your delicious coffee this morning or a beautiful snowy day outside.
- Open up to reality. Notice your thoughts and frustrations. Are you silently insisting that reality should be different than it is? Let go of the struggle and open up to the reality that is. Embrace the uncertainty. Trying to figure it all out leads to anxiety. Treat today as an opportunity to be open to and embrace uncertainty.
I hope this article helps you feel seen. I hope you know that you will get through this. I hope you know that you are not alone.
As always, if you ever need someone to talk to — we are here for you.