Child: “Grandpa, were you alive during the Covid19 pandemic?”
Grandpa: “Yes, dear, I was your age at the time.
Child: “Wow. That must have been horrible, Grandpa. We were learning about that in school this week. We learned about how the schools were closed. Moms and dads couldn’t go to work so they didn’t have as much money to do nice things. Some people didn’t even have enough food. They said that you weren’t allowed to go and play with your friends, even at parks! They told us that stores ran out of lots of things so you didn’t have much bread and flour and toilet paper. They said that summer vacations and camps were cancelled. They told us thousands of people that got very sick and died. They explained how hard all the doctors and nurses and essential workers worked and that lots of them died, too. That must have been so horrible Grandpa.”
Grandpa: “Well, that is all correct. I know that because I read about it when I was older. But to tell you the truth, I remember it differently…
I remember planting a garden. I remember making huge forts in our living room with chairs and sheets. I remember playing in the little creek near our house for hours. We had picnics in our yard with Mom and Dad every week. I remember lots of outdoor BBQ’s. We walked around the neighborhood more than ever before. We even put signs and pictures in our windows for other people to see. It was so much fun! I remember baking bread with Mom for our neighbors and building a fence with Dad. I remember Mom’s favorite words becoming ‘Hey, I‘ve got an idea…’ rather than ‘Not now, I am too busy‘. I remember my Mom getting frustrated and sad sometimes, but then going for a walk and coming back happy again. When I missed my friends, I remember lots of extra hugs from my Dad and then drawing pictures and putting them in their mailboxes. I remember my parents showing me some old TV shows like Andy Griffith and Flipper. We had movie night 3 or 4 times per week instead of just one. Oh, and I remember ‘silly days.’ Those were the best! We had ‘Speak Like a Pirate” or “Backward day” when we had sandwiches for breakfast and pancakes for dinner!
It was a horrible time for lots of people you are right. But I remember it differently. My parents made it joyful rather than fearful for me. For that I am thankful. – Author: Unknown
Parents, you are creating memories for yourselves and your children right now. While we cannot change our circumstances, we can change our outlook and use this time to help our children grow in new and wonderful ways. See the back of this page for additional “Tips for Parents” produced by SEL4SC. Find more ideas at: www.SEL4SC/resources/for-families
Ten Parenting Tips for Turning These Difficult Times into Joyful Memories
1. Pause and take three deep breaths before reacting to anything. Be easy on yourself. You are a parent; not a teacher, a counselor, or a camp director. Do your best and then give yourself, and your children, a lot of leeway and grace.
2. Model calm and confident behavior without minimizing fears and concerns expressed by your child. Listen very, very carefully to your children without judging their experience. A good place to do this is around the dinner table or at bedtime. “What was the high point and low point of your day? What is something new you learned today? What was your favorite time today?”
3. Make time for yourself each day: a solitary walk around the block, a bath, a call with a dear friend.
4. Allow breakdowns of tears or other shows of emotions from yourself and your children. Tell your children what you are doing to recharge yourself. When calm returns, identify what happened and talk about ways to manage moving forward. All feelings are okay.
5. Add humor to each day – dress-up day, role reversals, funny hair day….. (see suggestions at www.sel4sc.org/resources/for-families for more ideas.
6. We all have a need to feel needed and important. Consider teaching your child some life skills to your child that will also help the family. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, planning meals….”
7. Play, play, play. Play helps children solve problems, try out new roles, builds imagination, and so much more. “Playing store” is a way to learn math, planning, writing, social skills. “Fixing an old bike” is a way for a teenager to learn all sorts of engineering skills and then gives them a vehicle for exploration. Traditional school will resume someday. Take this time to teach your children in unconventional ways.
8. Make up new “Coronavirus Rules” that may involve letting go of some of your normal rules (amount of screen time; putting toys away every night, etc.) Calling them “Coronavirus Rules” will make it easier to change the rules later.
9. Screen time is a way to give everyone a break, but it is imperative that you limit shows and games of violence, scary news, moral behavior that is not in-line with your family beliefs.
10. Use these words often: (3 words) “I love you.” (4 words) “I care about you, and (5 words) I am here for you. Or if in a hurry, simply say #345
Contributor: Christine Donavan PCI® Certified Parent Coach