Between parenting and schooling and the everyday anxiety we’re all feeling about work, finances and more, this can all be overwhelming.
There is no way we can nail every moment, or even end every day feeling great about ourselves as parents and people right now. A dear friend's mom has a saying I find super helpful these days: ”It’s the climate, not the weather that counts.”
Kids do not remember every interaction with us. But they sense, trust and thrive on the overall patterns of love and support we provide over time. There’s a storm raging right now, and for many of us, that storm is scary, threatening and uncertain.
So if the stress of the circumstances are making you feel like parenting up to your usual standards is impossible, know that weather is just weather. Your family’s climate will prevail.
It helps to have a few ways to put this into action:
Focus on ways to promote a climate that kids can trust and one that is not defined by perfection but by genuine love, connection and mutual respect.
- Show affection. One benefit to shelter in place is that we get loads of time with our kids. Give an extra snuggle or even just a tap on the shoulder. Physical affection is grounding to kids and, without a word, your touch can reassure them that you are there and they are OK. Remember, what is most comforting to our kids is being with us—and they are getting plenty of that!
- Build in active time. Kids need to move in order to balance their sensory systems and feel grounded (Funny thing is, so do we—we just tend to hide it better). Kids’ bodies may be crying out, especially if they have less opportunity to get outside or explore in this current context. Make time to move your bodies together and activate your joints and muscles. Go for a walk and march or stomp along the way. Get your family dance party on in the evenings. Do yoga when you wake up. Or, just find some time to pretend to be animals or superheroes who fly, crawl, jump and move their bodies in different ways.
- Review the day together at dinner. In our family, we each share roses, thorns and buds. Roses are highlights, thorns are things that were difficult and buds are things we look forward to. This gives us a chance to share our feelings, process tough moments and celebrate the joyful moments—and, all the while, give kids the ability to process and learn from their experiences. Even if kids seem too little to participate, you can still share your reflections with them and expose them to the concepts.
- Limit self-inflicted anxiety. Let things slide. For me, it was snacks first, then media. There are times when I can’t be right there, and I was feeling pain and a sense of loss as hard-fought norms were slipping. But, I can’t always be right there right now, and kids need to learn that the rules can change with the circumstances—especially when life is so drastically different. It’s part of flexible thinking and adapting to the world around us—and I want my kids to be able to do that. Keep reminding yourself: “What happens in quarantine stays in quarantine.” If I can reframe it as part of surviving this strange point in time, I can limit the suffering for me and the kids.
- Each night, ask yourself the 1 question that really counts. Take one minute and ask yourself, “What is one thing that went well today?” Let all of the rest go, but slow down and 10x just one moment you can treasure from the day with your family. Read more about how this tiny practice can make a huge difference in how we experience life.
“When the bones are good, the rest don't matter.”—Maren Morris
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding whatever ways—in whatever small moments—you can nurture climate as you weather this storm. Trust that the foundation you’ve built with your kids is strong enough to withstand even this wild time.