Support for Families during Shelter In Place
By Carol Castanon
Secure Beginnings Parent Consultant
I’m wondering how you are holding up? Like yours, my family has elders, working parents, childcare, young children, and pregnancy. Some of my family have health challenges and some of my family and dear friends are in senior communities. I’m thinking about our threads of human connection and how we uphold our family’s health as well as our collective vision of us. This thought has silver and gold linings as we move toward a deepening of care and compassion.
Beside us, our children (the very young and the getting bigger) are experiencing the newness of this moment. This stillness is where we offer them the idea of helpers, keeping them safe, and being deeply concerned for others. There is a pause from the doing which fills our lives – to the being.
Children need their grown-ups. And grown-ups have a lot on their mind. Remember to breathe. You might say to your child, “Let’s take a deep breath together.” In your arms, the very young will feel and match your breathing pace. Remember to drink water and eat well. Nourish your nervous system so you can be available to your needs and the needs of others. Walk around the block, or in the river bottom, or at a park. The out of doors are important for you and your child. Point out moments or subjects of beauty. You might say, “Look at the water drops on the flowers! Let’s touch the rain.” Show and express your love. You might say, “I love you more than all outdoors!”
Children do best with predictable routine. We are all creating new schedules. Children will beckon you to be close and fully present. Some of the older children might feel bored with grown-ups and their play, wishing they could play with friends more of the time. You might give them the wish and say, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a friend party every day!” For now, the routine revolves around information, meals, rest and sleep, washing hands, bathing and brushing teeth times and activities. Water play, washing dishes together or bathing baby dolls is a lovely way to clean a child’s hands. Everyday tell your child in the morning, afternoon and evening the plan for the day and night. Young children do not have a mature sense of time. They depend on their grown-ups to tell them the plan – repeatedly. You might say, “Today we are still being careful not to get a flu or sickness called Coronavirus, and it is a home day with Mommy, Daddy or…”. We might add to this, “This morning, we will eat breakfast, make playdough, and read stories.” You might add, “ I will be working today too. What would you like to do while Mama or Papa work?” For the very young, they will not be able to wait while there are phone calls or emails or texts. Perhaps they can wait a short time, but not for very long! This will likely be challenging to balance the needs of being connected to others whether with work, friends or family while being at the beck and call of a child. Notice when it is too stressful for you or your child. Remember, we are all in this together and this brings us closer to compassion for self and others. This is true of the adults who we are asking to wait for us!
Limit your listening, reading or watching the news. It is too scary for young children. The media, while a source of information, is meant to be blunt and graphic.
Below is a playdough recipe for those families who have children old enough to enjoy. Slow down while you make the playdough so children can be helpers! This pace can and should be quite slow and super lovely!!
3 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
3 TBS Cream of Tartar (preserves the playdough but not essential)
3 TBS Oil
2 Cups Boiling Water with Food Coloring
Mix it all together in an over-sized bowl with a big wooden spoon.