What if this is the new normal?
As I sit in my house in Ft. Worth, TX, I read daily updates about the spread of the coronavirus in my county and city. While the numbers are relatively low here, I also know that the total lockdowns happening in my native CA and in NYC are only a matter of time. It will come here, it's just a question of when? not if?
One thing, however, that I keep wondering about is when all of this will be over. When can I go back to work? When will my kids go back to school?
If you're like me, you're dealing with this temporary inconvenience by spending an inordinate amount of time of social media. (I know you're bored, but I'm not going to brighten your day by sharing the 127th picture from my camera roll. Sorry). Most of us have put our lives on hold, waiting anxiously for things to get back to the way they were before the apocalypse came to America.
But what if this is the new normal? What if things never go back to the way they were?
Eventually, we'll (probably) get a vaccine. Schools will open again and business will go on.
When we do venture out into social gatherings of 50 or more once again, what mark will we have put on our children? How will they view the world now? If you don't think that this will effect them greatly, think about your grandparents or great-grandparents that grew up in the Great Depression. How much of a lasting mark did that event have on them?
As a parent and an educator, I can't help but worry about children across the country. Their routines have been completely shattered and their lives most likely have a lot of fear in them. Parents are scrambling to provide not only childcare but education to their children. If you are a parent of a school-aged child, here are some of my thoughts on how to make the most of a trying situation. If you have any additional thoughts, please share them in the comment section.
Turn off the news
Whether it's Fox News, CNN, or whatever political mouthpiece you subscribe to, news thrives on chaos and fear. While you have the media savvy to discern the truth from fear mongering, your children don't. If all they hear from a talking picture tube is predictions of world catastrophe and images of healthcare systems (like Italy's) being overrun, it can scar them emotionally and psychologically. Get on your smartphone a few times a day to check the news if you have to, but don't let it control the narrative in your household.
Children look to their parents for guidance on how to process major events. You yourself might be worried and anxious. That's only natural. Do you, however, want those emotions to be the driving force behind this part of your children's lives? Don't hoard, don't panic buy, and try to shift the focus to something else. Your lives have changed. Accept it and move on.
Educate your children
There are tons of free websites online for educating your children. If you have a student in middle or high school, most likely you don't need to worry. Schools across the country are scrambling to educate their students. Give them another week or two to figure things out. If you have an elementary age student, have them read for at least 30 minutes a day. They need practice reading and learning about the world. Assign them a History Channel or Discovery Channel episode to watch and report on. They don't need to be weighed down with hours of workbooks.
Keep adult problems at the adult level
This is financially hard for everyone. Soon, many families are going to have to make some hard decisions. If at all possible, keep this at the adult level. Making your children anxious because of financial matters doesn't help relieve any of your anxiety. They can't help you solve the problem, so try not to bring them into it. Let them be kids for as long as possible.
Think about what you want your children to remember about this time in their lives. Do you want them to always think of anxiety, fear, and hoarding? Or do you want them to recollect how your family grew closer together because of the coronavirus? Pick a goal and see if your actions this week are leading toward what you want them to remember or not.
It's never to late to stop harboring fear and start promoting safety and wellness in your family.