The other day when my children learned that we would be stuck another month at home, there were a lot of sighs and groans.
Children and young adults are flexible and adapt easily to new situations. In fact, we have established a new routine and rhythm in our home. Everyone knows where their desk is, and their routine and what is expected of them. Our days go fairly smoothly aside from a blow up now and then when someone is tired of being stuck together all the time without any breaks. Children are flexible. But they are also deep, emotional and full of questions and uncertainties.
There are days when they feel alone because they have “no one to talk to”, since they are not seeing their friends. There are days when they feel afraid- when the virus does feel surreal and distant, but like it is knocking at our door. There are days when they are tired of being stuck at home, and not because they are not flexible, but because kids need space, to walk, to get out, to explore. There are days where online school is stressful and confusing and when their sibling drive them a little more crazy and where they just want a little time to themselves.
So yes, children are flexible. But they are also living an experience that they have never seen or heard of before. They need to express themselves and to feel heard and understood and like they are not ignored in what they are thinking and living.
Of course it is a delicate balance. It is also important not to walk around in a state of constant alarm and stress, causing our children to live our own anxieties and fears. In fact, it is very important that we, as parents, share our fears with our spouse or with a friend, and not with our children. It is also important that we are careful with what they are filling their days and their minds with…too much news about the virus and statistics and stories just feels even more overwhelming. We can help them adapt to this new situation and feel peaceful or cause more fear in them by venting our own stress and anxiety.
To help with this process, we made this emoji activity. We created emojis with dessert paper plates, and a folder to keep them in with two dinner size paper plates. You can use white or yellow paper as well.
Then we hung the folder on the back of their bedroom doors so that the kids can hang up which emotion they are feeling that day without having to find all the right words to express what they are thinking and feeling.
It is a great tool for starting a conversation.
Take time today to check on your kids. To really listen to them. I am sure that we are stressed as parents in this odd situation, but I am also sure that this is overwhelming for them as well. Things are not changing very quickly, and some days their emotions may be harder to manage than others.
Or if you want a more simple way to allow them to select their emotion, here is a free printable that you can hang on your fridge. Then just use a magnet to place on how you are feeling that day or even that moment.
One day at a time. The situation feels overwhelming when you look at the big picture. But if you take it one day at a time then we can do it.
Try reading Matthew 6:25-34 from the New Testament of the Bible with your kids. It is a great reminder to take it one day at a time