So what happens when the best-laid plans get thrown into disarray? When life throws a curveball (or two, or five) your way and your established routine spirals into chaos? We are all different in the way we react to unpredictability, but the overwhelming majority of us like stability, and when things become a bit topsy turvy, it can throw us into a tailspin.
Whether it is moving house, a natural disaster, COVID-19, or a loss in the family (just to name a few), when the usual day-to-day is disrupted, it’s important we are able to manage our own mental health while also making sure our kids are doing ok too. And that includes making sure they’re feeling ready to head back to school. So what are some practical steps to coping with the rollercoaster of life?
Connect, connect, connect!
Make time to connect with others, no matter what is going on. Whether it’s a five-word text while hiding out in the bathroom, or a five-minute video call while walking the dog, connecting with others helps us to cope with the challenges of life. Verbalising our experiences can help us digest our thoughts, put things into perspective, and make an action plan. Better still, the person on the other end of the phone / sitting across from you may just offer to lend a hand! If you’re still feeling alone, don’t forget there are plenty of services there to support you.
Make plans, but be ready to toss them out the window
Even when things are unpredictable, it is still important to try and keep a routine whenever possible. That routine may look different than it did before, but it is important for you, and the kids, to know what to expect next. In saying that, you also need to be ready to toss it out the window and go with the flow. How you respond in these scenarios goes a long way to showing your kids how to cope with change, uncertainty and (let’s face it) disappointment. With many of us working from home at the moment, it is important to choose your ‘glass balls’ – the priorities that just can’t be dropped during your juggling act. Once you identify the most important things, the rest falls into place or simply doesn’t seem so important (I’m looking at you, pile of washing waiting to be folded!).
Be open with your kids
During times of uncertainty, we often try to shield our kids and act as though everything is fine. But kids are perceptive and they notice pretty quickly when something is up! It’s best to be an age-appropriate-amount-of-honest. There are some great tips for having tricky conversations with your kids, COVID-related or otherwise. Arm yourself with information to make sure that you are prepared to answer their questions – and if you don’t know the answer, that’s ok too! It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate a) how parents don’t know EVERYTHING! and b) where to go for information.
Whether it’s a lounge room dance off or a quick trot around the block with the kids and dogs in toe, movement will help with our (and our kids) mental health and also provides a great low-key opportunity to check in with your kids about how they’re feeling. Often, particularly for teens, a side-by-side conversation is a lot easier and less-confronting than a sit-across-from-the-table-in-awkward-silence kinda convo.