Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldburger, founder of Sleepy Planet Parenting and our residents Dream Lab sleep training experts, sharing advice on spending extra time at home.
We have no doubt that you are making some pretty big life adjustments at the moment – working at a distance, kids out of school and social distance. We are all in the midst of a very challenging situation, and part of what is so difficult is the unknown. All we can do is take steps to be proactive and healthy – and stay as grounded as possible while we watch and wait.
Here are some guidelines for navigating these unusual times:
Let's face it: Staying at home for most or most of your day is not something you would have asked for. There will undoubtedly be times when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated with the situation or bored to tears. Children will know these things as well. At the same time, none of us can do anything about these circumstances. The model for children how to practice acceptance by vocalizing what is difficult: "We really wish we didn't have to stay at home that much … this is hard!" And verbalize how you should show up for the experience anyway: “This is one of those times in life that we just need to make the best of things. We will take this one day at a time. "
Keep structure for your days
Apart from having regular designated time for meals, bathing and sleep, consider having "circle time" with your children where you read or tell stories. Set aside time for "PE" where you do something physical, such as taking a walk, a short hike, doing yoga or having a crazy dance party. Children enjoy a certain structure, and the day does not seem as overwhelming to you.
Look for the gifts that are tucked into this difficult situation. A forced break from the daily hectic life means more time to bond with the kids and as a family and enjoy small quiet moments with your children that you probably won't get as often as you want. You might just make some memories in the coming weeks that you all cherish throughout your life.
Take some time for yourself
Make sure you take breaks to refuel. This may include practicing some yoga or taking a walk or running. Reconnect to your social circle (almost naturally) and pick up old friends over the phone or video. Finally, start the book you intend to crack open, or enjoy alone time in gardening, painting or playing music.
Practice your own self-regulation
You are likely to have lots of feelings sometimes in the coming weeks. One minute you may feel quite destined for the circumstances they are, and the next minute you may feel very anxious. Taking the time to find your center will not only help you function as well as you can during these challenging times, but will also help you bring your best self forward with your family. Bonus: Your own self-regulation also affects your partner and children.
Remember to be patient with yourself and others above all. We navigate all the unlabeled waters but with a little self-love and compassion we will get through this together.
Jen & Jill