This compensated post is sponsored by Responsiblity.org.
Parenting during a pandemic is a new adventure for all of us, isn't it?
I am proud to again be partnering with Responsibility.org this year, which is a national not-for-profit working to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. You can expect a wide-range of important topics in this partnership, ranging from parents and positive role-modeling, to helping kids navigate friendships. They recently provided ambassadors with a helpful list of ideas of how to manage during time. Check out these dos and don'ts, along with some additional thoughts from what this looks like in my house.
- Take time for adequate self-care so you can bring your “A” game to the start of each day. This is that oxygen mask philosophy that I talk about so often. You must put on your own oxygen mask before you can help someone else on a plane. In the same way, by taking care of you at the beginning of each day, even if it is just getting up a bit early and praying, stretching, reading, etc. is going to help you as you go into the day.
- Project calm and confidence. While we all have hard days, the more calm you can project, the more calm your children will feel.
- Be careful of what your kids overhear in your conversations with other adults. Children will use “kid logic” will be used to fill in the gaps between what they know and what they hear.
- Reassure your kids that things will go back to normal, though normal might look different, while being honest about the fact that you don’t know when this will happen. If your family watches a lot of news, be ready to have conversations with your children about what they are seeing presented by the media.
- Create routines your family can follow so kids can have some sense of predictability. It's easy for days to run together, but we try to have some predictability in our days, such as going for walks when I finish working each day.
- Create opportunities to let each member of the family choose things you do, so they have a greater sense of control. Choosing can be as simple as picking the game for family game night or choosing what to have for dinner.
- Give your kids clear, age-appropriate answers to their questions. It's always important to be honest with your kids, but you don't need to give them more information than they need.
- Help your kids take pride in the fact that by staying home they are doing their part to stop this virus. We talk often about how doing this together is good for our greater community. We also have been working on filling out this free time capsule PDF keepsake to document this experience.
- Give your kids space to talk about their negative feelings, help them identify the negative feeling (anxiety, frustration, boredom), and then propose coping strategies: This is hard. Encouraging conversation around the challenges of this season is important for children to process.
- Joke about the seriousness of this situation. Even sophisticated kids will suspect there is a grain of truth to humorous, sarcastic, or hyperbolic comments about “Armageddon” or the “apocalypse.”
- Make promises or give reassurances for things that are out of your ability to control or foresee. It's okay to say I don't know if you don't know the answer to something. For instance, Ezra has been asking a lot about going back to his little school/day care. While it is open, we don't know if we will send him back, so that is what we have told him.
- Model negative or maladaptive coping strategies as you manage your own emotional reaction to this crisis. For instance, one maladaptive strategy would be using the word “alcohol” as a punchline or coping strategy for dealing with the stress of this global pandemic. Enjoying a glass of wine or cocktail out front while socially distancing from neighbors demonstrates a positive mindset. Contrast this with articulating the stress of your day while pouring a glass of wine. The mindset is negative, the language is negative, the role modeling suggests alcohol is the coping strategy.
April is Alcohol Responsibility Month, making it a great opportunity to talk with your children about about alcohol. Did you know parents are the leading influence on a child’s decision to drink – or not drink – alcohol? Also, when conversations about alcohol between parents and kids go up, underage drinking goes down—conversations work.
FOR MORE INFORMATION visit Responsibility.org for valuable information for parents with kids as young as 6-9 years old all the way through the college years. If your kids are in the 9-13 age range, you may also want to check out Responsibility.org’s underage drinking prevention program called Ask, Listen, Learn. These resources are free and tremendous to use, especially while we are all doing some form of education at home.