Coping in Quarantine: Parent Yourself Too
It seems almost cliche to say this at this point, but dang, these are weird times!
As I am writing this, we are just starting week 3 of quarantine, stay at home order, in the state of Washington. Kids are home, Eric and I are both working from home, everything is at home. We are doing school at home, exercising at home, eating at home, church at home. It is so strange and surreal.
Here is what I’ve been noticing in myself experiencing all this new stuff.
When I am faced with change or an unknown future, I feel like a child.
I become unsure, insecure, unmoored with no direction of where to go. I don’t like it.
When I feel like a child, I start to act like a child. I kind of catch myself throwing tantrums, turning to comfort in unhealthy places (junk food and all the sugar, neediness from my partner), I want to zone out and not get anything done. I lose all discipline. And that makes me feel terrible. I don’t like that either.
So here is what I’m trying to do, and what I want to offer to you too.
Parent yourself too.
Treat yourself like you are treating your children during this quarantine. Give yourself some space to process, but also direction and structure to process in.
Here is what this has looked like for me.
I set up a very loose plan for my kids each day. I knew from the get go that we were not going to be able to pull off a strict homeschooling schedule, so I came up with a plan that works for us instead.
Specifically, we have a set time during the day (10-12am) that is reserved for school/productive work. Outside of that time, we have goals. 30 minutes-1 hour of movement, 30 minutes of reading, daily chores, practicing musical instruments, etc can be done on their own time, and as soon as it is, they can have access to video games, which have a limited daily use.
I’’m not suggesting that this is a perfect system, but it seems to be working for us so far. We might tweak it later. The point is, I knew that my kids function best with at least a little bit of structure and discipline, so we set it up in a way that works for us.
Now, here’s that parenting yourself part.
I stick to a very similar schedule for myself. I allow myself tons of grace within the framework, but I hold to the frame work like my sanity depends on it. Because it does.
Even when I want to spend the whole day binge watching Netflix and eating Oreos, I don’t. Because I wouldn’t let my kids do that, so I’m not going to let myself do that either.
I try to approach this with a bucket load of love, kindness, long suffering and firmness, just like I try to do with my 5 year old when I am wanting him to sit down and eat dinner instead of bouncing around the kitchen.
I am noticing, and maybe you are too, that the toddler that lives in my brain wants to come out more during crisis. That little girl wants to take the wheel of this bus and drive it all over town. She is really insistent that she wants to take over all the decision making.
But she is a terrible driver. And just like I would never let my 5 year old drive the car or make the decisions for my life, I’m not going to let my brain toddler take over either. I will love her and tell her that I know it is hard to do new things, and then the parent part of my brain will show her how it is done.
Have you ever noticed the parent side of your brain and the toddler side of your brain constantly battling against each other? Do you ever let your toddler brain drive the bus? Of course you have! Because you are human, like we all are. We just want to be aware of that tendency and start redirecting it as many times as we can.
This shift in thinking was a game changer for me and it takes some practice. If this is a work that you are interested in diving into more, let’s hop on a consult call and I will show you how to make it happen. This is the work we do everyday in my coaching program and I would love to tell you more about it and get you back into the parenting role in your own life.