Question of the Day:
Any suggestions for how we all survive the next 3+ weeks without school due to COVID19? How do we stay sane?
Parent Educator Answer:
Staying home with kids for 3+ weeks is actually a neutral circumstance. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this even though most moms would agree it’s a recipe for insanity. What Jacqueline’s question showed me, is that her brain had gone into fight, flight, or freeze.
The fight, flight or freeze response is our brains natural instinct when faced with a life threatening situation. Our brain can’t differentiate between real life and imagination. Whatever she is thinking and imagining how the next few weeks would be, it’s a very fear inducing picture.
The way fight response shows up for Supermoms during Covid 19:
- Yelling at your family to wash their damn hands, not go outside, disinfect, etc.
- Getting annoyed with kids for not doing enough school work, making too many messes, just about everything.
- Fighting with husbands over the distribution of labor in the home, leaving the house…everything.
- Arguing with reality. Blaming. Rebelling against recommendations.
The flight response shows up for Supermoms by:
- Busily moving from one task to the other, anything with a sense of urgency.
- Getting annoyed with kids for not working hard enough.
- Emotional eating, drinking, or other avoidant activities.
- Calling everyone you know.
- Ignoring requests to stay home.
- Intellectual action: researching, worrying, planning, anticipating future problems.
The freeze response can look like:
- Moving slowly, not really accomplishing anything.
- Binge watching netflix or news channels
- Over sleeping, feeling lethargic, zombie mommy mode
- Not feeling fully alive or present.
- Difficulty making decisions or thinking clearly.
I can’t help Jacqueline unless I know what exactly she is scared of.
If Coronavirus social distancing is leaving you worried or anxious, the first step is to ask yourself what specifically you are afraid of and why you are afraid of it. Sometimes you need to ask “why” a few times to get down to the core fear.
Here’s Jacqueline’s response to my question, “What specifically are you afraid of?”
“For me, I am most concerned with staying patient, especially with my 6 year old who struggles to follow instructions and is often very needy.
With school and camps in the summer we get a break from each other regularly enough to stay sane. Several weeks together seems daunting!
I don’t want to resort to screen time but need to get my own work done. Setting boundaries with her about time for me is challenging.
I wish this could feel like a gift of time with the kids but I don’t enjoy parenting much, so it fills me with dread. So many people are going to be worse off so I hate to complain.”
Now that we know her main concern is “losing patience” we can dive into the life coaching answer.
Life Coaching Answer:
What Jacqueline doesn’t realize is that the thing that’s scaring her the most is what she is going to say to herself about herself when she loses her patience. It’s always the biggest fear. We think our children dying is our biggest fear, but people die. Death and grief are normal parts of the human experience. The WORST thing that will happen is what we will say to ourselves if they die: “I shouldn’t have let her go to the park.” “I should have been more diligent with the hand washing.” “I failed as a parent.”
What are the scary things Jacqueline will say to herself when she loses her patience with her daughter? I don’t know, but I’m going to guess it’s something like, “I messed up.” “I’m not a good mom.” “I’m failing.” It’s the shame and guilt that follow that kind of self berating, that is making this shelter-in-place seem unbearable.
Jacqueline says, “I don’t enjoy parenting much so it fills me with dread.” But the cause of dread is the thoughts she will have about herself in the future. When she attempts to do something like set a boundary with her child but are filled with dread, worried about the beating you will give yourself after, it makes it really hard to set that boundary.
Kids can sense our wishy-washy energy and dismiss it. When we’ve got an “inner mean girl” inside our heads that we don’t have control over, it makes it hard to parent from calm confidence.
What I work with my clients on, is recognizing this “inner mean girl” and learning how to work with her. Say hello to her, but don’t let her be in charge. This is your brain and your life and you get to decide how you want to feel about your parenting.
Feeling guilty sucks. Sometimes we think guilt is a sign of being caring and conscientious but it doesn’t help you parent effectively. Your daughter deserves to have a mom who is confident, peaceful, and joyful. Make a decision to speak nicely to yourself no matter how imperfectly you parent. Set the intention to support yourself with kindness and compassion, especially during this crazy time.
Supermom Kryptonite: Thinking life should be “business as usual”
So many moms are stressing themselves out trying to be the perfect homeschooling parent while continuing to do a seamless job working from home. If ever there has been a time to let perfectionism go it is NOW.
We are so accustomed to following orders and doing what we are told that it’s natural we would try and bring that into a pandemic. We learned how to be successful in life by jumping through hoops, getting good grades, doing what others expected of us, and obeying expectations.
The SCARY and BEAUTIFUL thing is that there is NO RIGHT WAY to move through a global pandemic. Other than STAY HOME, we get to figure out what works for us. There is no right or wrong here.
Can you have kids playing in the background during client calls? of course!
Do you have to homeschool? Absolutely not.
Can you be in the kitchen during conference calls? How else will your kids eat?
Won’t your children fall behind if they don’t stay on top of their school work? Every child will fall behind.
Can your kids go a week without bathing? MINE DID!
There are no rules to surviving a global pandemic; and that’s ok. Create a structure if that feels good to you. Let your kids sleep, cry, play, and do whatever they need to do to adjust to this new normal.
We have no idea what will happen at the end of this. Our economy is falling apart. Certain infrastructures will not survive. The skills you and your kids will need in the future are resourcefulness, passion, curiosity and being open to opportunities.
My highest hope is that kids will use this time to explore their own interests and discover their passions. With this break from school as we know it, I would love to see a mini-renaissance. Children will discover their own creativity, explore art, music, and other pursuits ignited by curiosity and passion, not from external authority.
Our children will remember this “Coronavirus Quarantine” for the rest of their lives. Let’s do whatever it takes to make it a positive experience for them, and US. Let it be a time where you softened and they had freedom to explore. A time of independence where they learn to cook, do laundry, and trust that the answers they need to be successful in life have always been inside them.
Supermom Power Boost – Netflix Party Workout
My 15 year old daughter introduced me to a Netflix Party Workout. You can get the free Netflix Party Chrome Extension which allows you to watch a show while interacting with your friends. Once you and your friends have picked a show to watch together, go on Pinterest and search “Netflix workouts.” There you will see fun creative ways people have been turning their favorite shows into exercise programs.
“Squat during every surgery on Gray’s Anatomy and plank when they talk about sex.”
“Do a burpee every time Jim from The Office looks at the camera.”
“Five pushups when Sheldon states a scientific fact on Big Bang Theory.”
“Do ten lunges every time someone on Survivor finds an immunity idol”
“Ten jumping jacks every time ‘He who must not be named’ is named.”
I love how this combines socialization, exercise, and entertainment. What I love even more is that this is something the younger generation made up on their own, demonstrating their resourcefulness, desire to stay connected and have fun.
Quote of the Day:
“The greatest danger during times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker