How Not to Manage Stress: The Quarantine Chronicles
Like the majority of the world, we're currently self-isolating. While that may sound like something we normally do, being the weirrrrrd home school family, I usually spend a large amount of time outside the house. When we are in the house, it's usually with people! A social home school family, say what? Yes, it's true... we interact with other humans.
So during this time of isolation, what are we learning exactly? I can tell you there's a lot less actual school happening and a lot more learning how to manage stress. The kids manage stress by teaching the baby to walk way before her first birthday. Mommy manages stress by overeating and trying not to yell... etc. You get it, it isn't pretty.
We're pretty big on incorporating life tools into our education routine. I don't mean life skills like doing dishes, matching socks and cleaning the house, I mean things like stress management, expression of ones feelings... parents are often reminded to teach morals and life skills like I mentioned before, but almost never reminded of some of life's tools. It's important to remember the tools they need to make them successful aren't always just good morals. Stress management, conflict management, mediating difficult discussions (among themselves) are things I absolutely allow the kids to dive head first into, even at the age of 2.5.
Anyone who's spent any significant amount of time in our house has heard me teach these things to my children. Not through a lesson at the dining room table, but through practical moments. If Zadok and his little buddies are fighting over toys, arguing in general, whatever... my response is usually, "you need to talk to each other about this, unless someone's in danger of being physically hurt I want no part." It can seem like I'm passing the buck, being lazy, even just ignoring a problem. But what I'm trying to do is teach him, and his friends, that they're allowed to express themselves to each other in order to resolve conflict. If I save him from everything now, he'll never save himself from anything later. Once they've talked it out, they almost always continue about their little lives, but if they still need a grown up, I'm happy to help. The ultimate goal is having them start the process themselves.
As far as stress management, we're doing a lot more tablet time than I would like to allow. I had to put it into perspective for myself a bit over the weekend. COVID-19 is terrifying. It's scary for me, a 28 year old adult with a family. How could I expect it not to scare my kids? Thankfully they only hear snippets of what's happening, but even just a little bit is sad, scary, confusing. Their daily routine has changed drastically. We went from two play dates a day, taking dinner to friends regularly, coffee dates and trips to the park often to nearly nothing. We still deliver food when we can, but those opportunities are even limited now. There are no extra kids running through my house, no coffee dates with our favorite people.
So how do you teach a five year old to manage stress? Four year old? Two year old? Honestly, I can't give a great answer. Grace for meltdowns, distraction, long talks about big feelings. So, so much prayer. Their sweet little souls need so much in this time, and so does mine! A lot of my posts here will have purpose, but for now I wanted to unload my brain. It's a jumbled mess and writing things out for myself helps me recenter myself, regain some mental clarity. I pray you all stay safe and healthy.
As the title suggests, we aren't always good at managing our own stress. I don't do nearly enough talking to God, I don't do enough reading my Bible. There are a lot of things I know work that I just don't make time for. Posts like this one are designed to remind me to do those things. Read the Word. Talk to my heavenly Daddy. He gave me everything I need, even more than I need to get through this insanity. When I am weak, He will be strong. It's a speech I have to deliver to myself and to my children on a daily basis.