We are certainly in times of uncertainty and many of us are feeling anxious and scared about the future ahead during this pandemic. When it comes to managing family anxiety during these times, you are the answer to help cope with social isolation.
Believe it or not, your ability to find the calm within yourself gives you an incredible power to be a strong presence for your family.
Even though you may feel as though everything seems out of control, what happens in the space of your own home is something that you CAN control.
As Olaf wisely states in Frozen 2″ This is called controlling the situation when things feel out of control.”
I love Olaf! Such a wise little snowman.
So whatever you may be feeling, thinking, worrying about, your children will be able to feel with you, which is why it is of the utmost importance to find calm in your anxiety.
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Ways You Can Help Your Family Cope With Social Isolation
Talk About Feelings
Your children likely feel anxious about whats going on in the world. All of a sudden their school life stopped without warning, parents may be working from home, friends cannot be interacted with and they’re stuck at home with no indication of being able to be social again anytime soon.
Having your children anxious about all of those sudden changes can activate your anxiety, it’s basically what parenting is all about. When your children are hurting, it is your job to be there and provide comfort and security.
All of these feelings are super important. When we let ourselves and our children feel those feelings, we can learn so much about the needs of our family members, and there is no need to guess at the solution.
What I’m trying to say is, let your children feel their feelings and provide a safe space for understanding and comfort because you are what they need in these times of uncertainty and we need help to cope with social isolation.
Make Movement A Part Of Every Day
Mental health is important and one way to ensure mental health is exercise!
Exercise helps decrease anxiety in all humans, not just kids, by helping the brain maintain healthy levels of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When we have too much GABA in the brain, anxiety kicks in, and no one wants that. Another effect of too much GABA in the brain is depression, which a whole beast of a situation you will want to try to avoid as much as possible, at any time. So it is a good idea to maintain healthy levels of GABA and get kids active daily.
Not to mention all the health benefits of getting kids to move such as a decreased chance of obesity and lower chance of disease.
Now if you live in an environment where it’s pretty much Winter all year long, or at least feels like it, (as I write this we have a snowstorm in mid April..gross), it can be difficult to get daily running, jumping and skipping into the day.
If your children are younger, they can tumble, skip, hop and jump in your house without too much damage. If your children are older, you might want to find some space in your home and set up a basketball hoop, a hockey net or a treadmill. I understand that’s not possible for everyone and it’s just a recommendation! If your kids can go outside and play, make sure they know the rules for social distancing. Outdoor activities can include playing basketball alone or with siblings at a local court, riding bikes, going for a walk, jogging or rollerblading.
Think Of Screen Time As A Friend
I know right, i;m obviously insane in saying this and this is totally the unpopular opinion BUT we are in extraordinary times and screen time is a lifesaver for most parents. It’s alright, things are going to be like this for a while, so let screen time into your life.
You’ll have a chance to adjust your screen time habits later, when things slowly start getting back to normal.
Like I mentioned, we cannot really play outside right now. Snow storms, ice on the ground, frigid cold….being outside for more than 10 minutes is just plain unpleasant. As much as I can personally entertain my children with slime, activity kids, reading, school work and coloring, I cannot for the life of me keep them entertained on that stuff for 12 hours a day.
Screen time can get in the way of pretend play, spending time outside, family connections, disrupting sleeping and more. The challenge of course is adding screen time in without interrupting the other important things in life.
So think of screen time as something you can add to your day rather than something you need to limit to x amount of hours a day.
My kids sure get excited when I let them play the Xbox every afternoon after all schoolwork and chores are completed. This is prime time for me to work on my blog, finish some house cleaning or simply take a rest.
So yes, screen time is a friend during these times when I need help to cope with social isolation.
Let Them Be Bored
Yes! Do it. Let them be bored. Do you know how much imagination and creativity happens when kids are bored?
I’ve never been more impressed with the stories and imaginative play that comes from my children boredom. The lego creations that come out of a quiet hour in their room are amazing. I’ve had my children write entire books with pictures when they were bored.
So keeping this short and sweet, let them be bored.
Get Close To Nature
if you can, spend time in nature. 20-30 minutes of nature a day can reduce stress according to doctors. Fresh air always makes me feel better, even if it’s just opening my backdoor and sitting on the porch for five minutes. Seriously, it’s important.
Keep Bedtime Routines Consistent
It is easy to let routines slip when we are so bungled by the new world we live in. It is important to remember that sleep helps reduce anxiety in everyone, and it is a very important part of the day. When kids lack sleep, they can become overtired and when they are in the overtired state, it can be near impossible to get to sleep which makes it harder to cope with social isolation.
Its a pretty vicious cycle.
You can read all about our bedtime routine here, or you can go ahead and create your own routine. Make sure your teens are getting to sleep at a reasonable time also, they need sleep and a break from electronics too.
Practice Daily Mindfulness And Affirmation
Get your brain geared toward a healthy day by practicing daily affirmations with yourself and your children.
Affirmations promote positive thinking which can, in turn, improve health, confidence and reduce stress. Positive thoughts can also help children make better choices in their day.
If you’ve ever heard your child say
- I’m not good at this
- I can’t do it
- I’m ugly
then you need to go over some positive affirmations with your family.
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you overcome those negative thoughts. The more you repeat your affirmations, the more you’ll believe them.
The more you say them, the more you believe them and the more likely those thoughts can come true. How cool is that?!
Family Connection Time
Provide short bursts of family connection time so that you will be able to pull away from your children and things done. We all need to clean the house, get work done and take a rest, and if you don’t give your children full connection time on a regular basis, your kids will likely never you give you a minute of peace.
Let family time be all about them, and directed by them if you can.
Activities can include a full 30 minutes of playing catch, walking the family dog together, making breakfast as a team or sitting on the back porch with your full attention on them. Anything really that allows you to give them your full attention.
You Are The Ultimate Solution
We are facing such extreme times right now and some days you’ll have it all together and everything runs smoothly while other days will be a hot mess where nothing goes right.
There is a lot out there that we cannot control, but our space at home, we can control which can help us cope with social isolation.
In order for you to pull through this tough time, allow yourself room to not be perfect. Your kids don’t need a perfect parent, they need you.
Some days you might allow more screen time than you anted, and that’s ok.
Some days you may not make it outside for 30 minutes, and that’s ok.
Some days you may lose your cool and yell, and that’s ok, just make sure to apologize and make it right.
The most healing, loving things you can do have nothing to do with perfection, and everything to do with connection.
By the way, have I told you that you’ve got this?
Because you totally do.