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  • Dr. Parsons

Getting Creative During COVID

We are currently on month two of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are anything like the other tens of millions of Americans, you have been self-quarantining and are starting to find yourself getting a little stir crazy. As a parent, you have likely taken on several new roles in your household in the blink of an eye. Just a few months ago, your primary roles were a parent, a spouse, and an employee. Over night, you have become a teacher, a therapist, a computer technician, a chef, a craft expert, a personal trainer, and all in addition to your daily roles as a mom/dad, husband/wife, and diligent employee. It would not be surprising if the burden of all of the above responsibilities was starting to wear on you. In fact, it would be completely normal to be ready to hop in your car for a long weekend escape. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. So while you await your next well deserved vacation, below are a few creative ways to maintain your sanity while juggling your responsibilities.

1. Good Newspaper: You probably follow the news pretty regularly. It can be extremely anxiety provoking regardless of age. The news tends to emphasize the negative things in the world, but we all know if you look closely, you can find the good. On particularly tough days, try to get the family together to create your own newspaper which emphasizes good news. These can be small things that happen in the home, such as your child not having any "accidents" that week, or bigger things in the neighborhood, like baby birds hatching. Children can help by drawing the pictures and older teens can help type it up. This is a great exercise for mental health at any age.

2. Many Hats: As mentioned above, you may be finding yourself wearing many more hats than you used to. It can be hard to transition between roles and even harder for your children to know when you are in "work" mode, "teacher" mode, or "mommy/daddy" mode. Children who struggle with transitions will find this especially challenging, and you are likely to see the result of that during your most important business Zoom meeting. Using identifying objects can help your child know which role you're in. Perhaps when you wear your glasses it means you are in work mode. When you have your chefs hat on it means you're ready to cook. Maybe when you have your blazer on you are ready to help them learn. Children can jump in on the fun by having their own outfits between school, play, and chores. (Disclaimer: This may contribute to an increase in laundry! Good thing you have also taken on the role of laundry maven.)

3. Designated Days: At this point, you and your family may be finding certain activities "boring." What used to be fun and entertaining is now routine and old. Rather than mindlessly engaging in tasks throughout the week, schedule different nights for different activities and try not to deviate. Monday may be Movie Marathon Night, Tuesday is Game Night, Wednesday is Craft Night, and so on. There will be some days that each person is more interested in than others, which could actually give everyone something to look forward to.

4. Tupperware Roulette: You may also find that you and your family are starting to resist certain meals and left overs. Being deprived of our favorite foods can lead to very intense cravings! Rather than waste food, time, and money by throwing our left overs away, you can play roulette with your family. For lunch or dinner, each left over item gets a number. Use a paper plate to make a number wheel. Each family member takes a turn spinning and letting fate decide their meal. Suddenly, the leftover pizza isn't looking so bad.

5. Mindful Everything: You are probably reading a lot of articles about mindfulness and self-care during this crisis. It's easy to be distracted when worrying about the future or feeling overwhelmed about your day to day life. Although focusing can be hard for children, simple prompts can help them be more present while also giving you a break to focus on yourself. Next time you are on a walk, whether in your neighborhood or around your own yard, create a mini scavenger hunt of items to look for. For example, look for something blue, something sharp, something loud, something new, and something broken. While your children are walking, they will be more engaged with their surroundings which means you might get a breather too.

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