Lockdown Day 37 – Navigating Turbulent Skies
Today’s post is for the parents, the teachers, and all of us adults who have the job of keeping ourselves and those that depend on us safe, healthy, engaged, and sane.
These are trying times.
Parents have overnight become teachers, teachers have overnight become e-learning specialists and ‘make-a-plan’ experts! All of this whilst navigating unknown turbulence, blindfolded, upside-down, inside-out and in the dark. Trying times.
Coupled with this are the other stresses – physical restrictions, mental stresses and fatigue, news (real, fake, can it even be trusted at all?), social restrictions, emotional regulation, economic and financial strain… Basically – just everything.
We are however adults. And – adults are supposed to know what to do. At least in the eyes of our children!
So – we provide structure for the children (as parents and teachers) by encouraging the children to move and get fresh air, by keeping the children purposefully engaged as much as possible and not letting them sit in front of a screen all day long, and by encouraging communication and togetherness. All the while, trying to do the same for ourselves.
As the lockdown continues, economic woes deepen and school dates are shifted further away, the stresses and strains start to show. Schools and teachers (who are also trying their utmost to stay afloat and keep themselves and their families sane) are faced with closure due to parents with-holding or being unable to pay fees. Parents, who were quite committed to being ‘teachers’ for three weeks, now not quite enjoying the task quite as much six weeks down the line…
As we head into the next stage of our lockdown and ‘new normal’, today is a good day to reflect on the way forward into the great unknown. The one certainty that we move into this unknown with is the knowledge that how we, the adults, respond emotionally to these challenging times greatly influences how our children do the same.
As the adults of the planet, it is our mandate to set the ‘emotional tone’. Compare this to being on a flight that hits an unexpected pocket of turbulence. As a passenger, this is a frightening experience, as one does not know what has caused this, how long it is going to last, or even whether it is going to have a positive end. This causes the passenger great anxiety and distress.
The pilot makes an announcement and calmly explains that the aircraft is going through an area of turbulence and that it is expected to be a bit bumpy and uncomfortable for the next little while and that in order to be safe everyone needs to remain seated with their seatbelts fastened until the turbulence has ended. This immediately sets the ‘emotional tone’ of the flight for the passengers. The pilot has acknowledged that this is uncomfortable, has regulated her/his own emotions and shown that s/he is not panicked, has set safety measures in place, and has assured the passengers that they are in good hands.
We are all on this plane. Our children are our passengers and the adults (parents and teachers) are the pilots. Covid-19, our government’s response (and everything else that goes with it) is the turbulence.
Our children need to know and feel that even amidst all of this turbulence and uncertainty, someone is calm and in charge.
So how can we set this emotional tone? How do we become or remain the pilot of this aircraft?
- Be realistic in the goals that we set for ourselves and for our children. Managing our expectations better will allow for an easier adaptation to the challenges that we face.
- Be proactive in managing our stress thresholds. Make a concerted effort to eat well, exercise well and sleep well. Just these three factors lay a solid foundation for our mental health.
- Learn to identify thought patterns that contribute to our cycle of distress and find individual coping skills to shift out thoughts from worries to gratitudes.
- Create and stick to routines. Routines create security and safety in that they can be predicted and relied upon. This is especially important in a time when there is little external (i.e. out of your own control) routine and security.
- Be kind. Try and focus on the good rather than the bad. Find the silver lining in each dark cloud and just be kind. To yourself and to others.
- Stay connected. Start this in your home. Switch off the TV. Switch off social media. Connect with each other. Connect with nature. And yes – use electronic media to connect with our family and friends – have a cyber tea party!
- Be present. Take each day as it comes and navigate the turbulence as well as we are able. It is better to deal with the turbulence of pockets of your current flight (i.e. today), rather than all the turbulence experienced by all the aircraft in the world all at the same time!
From our homes to yours, we send love and best wishes for ‘safe flights’. ♥️