5 Ways to Support Children in Uncertain Times
With schools and businesses closed because of the coronavirus, we find ourselves sharing more time with family, including school-aged children, than we ever thought possible. Are you letting this time be a blessing or a source of stress?
Michael Matthews is an Army veteran and father of three school-aged children. He has always been invested in his kids’ education, even more so now that they’re home 24/7. “Free time is definitely gone, but I’m perfectly fine with that,” Michael said. “I’ve changed up my routine to incorporate my children and keep them busy.”
Michael and his wife Krystle are both veterans and have busy lives in addition to their parenting responsibilities. Between home life, work, and volunteer time with peer support groups for veterans, it takes resilience and organizational skills to keep life in balance.
Here are five ways busy parents can be present and fully support their kids — especially during uncertain times:
- Be honest. Keep kids in the loop; keep it simple. Answer questions openly and truthfully — without transmitting your anxieties. Keep it short, and don’t elaborate on hypothetical situations.
- Breathe. Practice mindfulness. Teach your children to pause, or just set the example. “Right now, one of the biggest things is taking time to meditate,” Michael said. “It allows my kids time to regroup and stay the course. One of the things I’ve learned in the last few weeks is that not only are the parents overwhelmed, but also the kids. It’s important to take time to regroup and push forward through this difficult time.”
- Move. Find time to take short breaks to walk or ride bicycles with your kids. Moving will help them release tension and boost their mood (and yours).
- Set a routine, even if you are home all day. Kids can get up, eat, do homework (or a home lesson) and go to bed at about the same time as before. “I start my day at 5:30 am,” Michael said. “I manage my stress by taking the first part of my day to pray and look at the tasks for the day. I usually take 20 minutes to do this. I then work out for about 30 minutes to an hour. With the kids home now, I cook breakfast and wake up all the kids by 7:30 am to get the day started.”
- Manage your anxiety. Avoid catastrophic thinking. Reduce time spent consuming news, and find positive things to focus on. Make time for your own tasks or work, and take care of yourself. It’s OK to step away if you need a break.
“Self-care is an important aspect of parenting. Whether it’s waking up earlier than your children to have some quiet time or stepping away for five minutes of solitude, it’s good to find time to regroup and come back refreshed,” Krystle said.
And remember you’re not alone. As we adjust to a new normal, we’re learning that social distancing does not have to mean isolation.
For additional networking opportunities, connect and engage with WWP and other warriors through WWP’s official social channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Or register as a warrior or family member on WWP’s website.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.