When life gives us lemons – it’s up to us to make lemonade! Coronavirus has all of us stresses, some of us quarantined, panic levels are high, and all this might be affecting our children, especially the highly sensitive ones.
I didn’t take Coronavirus seriously enough until it got right to my doorstep. When I picked Ilay up from daycare yesterday (he’s four years old), he went all about the virus, how to protect himself and us, and, wait for it – that kindergarten closes until May! He doesn’t know what “May” is, but he had the feeling it’s a long time from now. I didn’t take him seriously until I heard the news at 20:00. He was right – we’re going to spend a lot of quality time in the next few weeks.
The first thing I did was to stress about it, freak out, feel the air leaving my lungs, and whatnot. My freedom and autonomy are taken from me, and it’s going to affect many aspects of my life. This was all I could think about for a few hours. So I let myself think about it and stress about it and feel it – because that’s what I was feeling.
When we feel like s***, pretending that we’re okay is the worst thing we can do to to ourselves and our connections. Admitting to how we feel, sharing our feelings, and asking for help when needed are key strategies to remaining sane and well connected to our loved ones.
When I was done feeling, I admitted to the truth and made a plan.
Coronavirus: How to Cope with the Upcoming Events?
This is going to be tough, no matter how many children you have. I’m going to start by lowering my expectations:
- The house will not be as clean as I want it to be
- I won’t be able to cook as much (ordering out is a great idea!)
- A bit more screen time than the usual is okay if it helps
- Bending the rules is okay
- Letting go of some rules is okay
During times like these, we need to do whatever we can to make things easier on ourselves and not feel bad or guilty for taking these measures.
I’m also going to lower my expectations when it comes to the kids, because this is going to be tough on them, too. This sudden change of routine, the lack of clarity and confidence is challenging for children for whom these are super important. I will expect more meltdown, I will expect bigger feelings, and bigger needs.
This is a great time to learn the five essential steps to emotion coaching your children.
How to Talk to Children About Coronavirus?
If your children are experiencing anxiety, difficulties in falling asleep, lack of appetite, and even bigger big feelings, it could very much be because they feel the stress in the air. Children are generally more sensitive than adults are, and the highly sensitive ones are even more sensitive.
Often when we try to shield our children from what’s happening, we end up hurting them even more. When we’re hiding, not sharing, or pretending that things don’t exist to protect our little ones, we give them a much better reason to fear. “If Mom and Dad are hiding this, then it must be horrible”, they would think.
They might react in more clinginess and express higher needs. They might need you to be more active in your presence; they might be asking a lot of questions. Answer everything they want to know in a calm and relaxed manner.
Our children are watching us all the time; it’s from our reactions that they learn how to react. The first thing that you want to make sure is that you can contain the situation, that you feel safe and secure, and that you know what to do. When you are feeling safe – so will your children.
The best rule about communication (in general!) is to avoid secrets and avoid overloading children with information. Tell things precisely the way that they are, in short sentences, and without too many details.
What to Say?
Coronavirus is very similar to the flu and other winter diseases, mainly characterized by high fever and cough.
Everyone, even in the highest ranks of the government, is doing everything that they can to protect you. All the scientists in the world are working hard to develop a vaccination. We are all in excellent hands 🙂
All we need to do to make sure that we are protected is to wash our hands and stay away from large crowds! This means it’s an excellent opportunity for quality time at home!
Don’t forget that the older children will love days off from school 🙂
With this being said, do whatever you can to keep to your at-home routine as routines help children feel safe and give them the clarity that all human beings need to thrive.
And avoid watching the news when the children are around 🙂
Coronavirus: Activity Ideas to Keep You Sane
Make sure to have a daily schedule, and build this schedule together with your children – involve them in these decisions. Plan meal times, energetic activities, learning activities, chilling activities, and have set times for each day. Just like at school or kindergarten.
If you and your partner are experiencing difficulties in your relationship due to the situation, check out this post where I offer three marriage tips to rock the hard days of parenting.
Avoiding crowds and people doesn’t mean staying at home! And this is what most of us are missing 🙂 We can be outside! We can travel and explore our surroundings the way we never did.
We can go mushroom picking; we can explore the variety of fauna in our forests. We can go to the beach! We can play in the sand and the mud, we can dance in the rain – we can do whatever we want as long as we keep to our hygiene and avoid malls! What can be better than this?
We can play hide and seek in the empty streets! We can have friends over, and we can visit friends. The more I write about it – the more okay I am about the near future 🙂
If your children are into arts, here’s a good list of things to stock up on:
Dough, hand paint, body paint, watercolors, brushes, stickers, stamps, glue, clothes’ patches, washy tape, glitters, and papers. Take yourself and your kids to the closest art supplies store, and go crazy! Make a list of what you do each day and let your children go wild!
If your children are into cooking, stock up on cooking supplies. If your children are into reading – go to the library! It’s never too packed anyway 🙂
Think about all those things that you’ve always wanted to do together and didn’t have time to – there you go: Coronavirus just gave you the gift of time 🙂
Want to talk about it? Join my life and parenting support group on Facebook; I’d love to meet you 🙂