By Allison Villa, certified psychotherapist and human relations expert
When you resume activities outside of your social isolation bubble, you (and your children) can experience a whole host of emotions. By being more aware of how you get back into public life, you will feel confident as a family and give your children a sense of security. Here are some tips and guidelines for relieving anxiety, being in a state of grace, and having a clear intention during this transition.
1- Find out what makes you happy and make it a priority
It goes without saying that parents, today more than ever, are the angular stone of their children’s world. When you arewell grounded and take care of yourself, your children will feel safe and confident. Particularly in this time of uncertainty, the stability you bring them home (emotionally and physically) will provide a sense of security that will follow them when they venture into public spaces again. But what does “stability” look like? It is important to take care of yourself before taking care of loved ones. It can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep every night, eating healthy food, or even going for walks in the neighborhood. The more you take care of yourself, the better you will be able to be present as a parent, and to be more patient and loving when these great emotions arise.
When you don’t take the time to take care of yourself regularly, this is when resentment develops and the risk of burnout increases. Your children will have more needs and feel more emotions during this time. This is expected and completely normal. You must have the tools you need to support them at that time. Help each other, you and your partner, and set aside time to take care of yourself. The ideal would be for each of you to have a little “time alone” daily to recharge your batteries. Self care will give you more energy and help you manage your emotions more easily (this will promote a more stable emotional environment for your family members).
Ask yourself: what do you each need to recharge your batteries right now? What is the schedule for family members like? For example, a need for more sleep, discussions with friends, walks in the neighborhood every other day, etc.
2- Keep what you love
Instead of “picking up” on your habits before COVID-19, make smart choices about how you want to build your life now. Think of the time you spent with your family members. While there have been many challenges to overcome, it is likely that there have also been some positives. Take the time to think carefully about each of your activities when you put them back into your schedule. Is this an activity that promotes your development? You may have liked having fewer social responsibilities, which left more room for family spontaneity. Or you liked to telecommute which allowed you to spend more time with your family. Don’t do things mechanically, make thoughtful choices. It is an opportunity to lay the foundation for an ideal life.
Ask yourself: what activities and habits do you want to keep from now on? What do you like about your COVID lifestyle?
3- Accept challenges
Having family members together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can add to life and relationship challenges. There may be an aspect of your work that you did not like before, but which now appears to you as an ideal opportunity to make a real change in your life. Or you haven’t done enough physical activity and now want to make your health a priority. Perhaps you have realized that you have spent too much time talking about domestic tasks with your partner, and you want to reserve more time for a constructive exchange with your partner. This pandemic has brought to light the needs in certain areas which (probably) required special attention before. Now is the time to re-examine your values, your list of imperatives, and take action to take small or big steps toward change. Accepting challenges is an opportunity for personal growth and a more fulfilling life for you and your family members.
Ask yourself: what aspect of social isolation do you dislike? What was highlighted? What changes can you make to lead a more satisfying life?
4- Ditch the things in your life before COVID that weren’t working
It is common to do things in life because it is “expected of us” to do them. You now have the opportunity to choose the aspects that you want to keep in your life at the end of this confinement. Remember to choose only the aspects that are worth it. Put your life in order. Do it intelligently with full knowledge of the facts. If an aspect of your life seems to you to be a “duty”, ask yourself the reason for its presence in your former life and if it is essential in your future life. If your children are old enough, they will love to take part in this conversation. Their honesty, wisdom and insight can provide a useful perspective.
Ask yourself: what aspect do you miss in life before COVID? Who are the people or activities present in your life by “obligation”? If you never had to do that again, how would you be?
If as parents you adopt a regular self-care practice, you will be better able to control your actions and provide a solid foundation to support your children when they return to public life. By reflecting on the COVID lifestyle, you can become aware of the positive aspects that you can keep, as well as the challenges overcome that you may choose to give up. This understanding will encourage the adoption of a more voluntary and intelligent attitude that will allow you to build a future life. This clarity and self-awareness empowers you as parents while reducing your anxiety and fostering a peaceful environment for the whole family.