When WES first made the decision to move to distance learning last spring, we had no idea how long the public health crisis would last. The weeks slowly evolved into months. Although some of our daily routines pre-pandemic have begun to be partially restored, such as the gradual reopening of schools and businesses, in most ways we are living in a drastically different world.
My wife, Sandy, and I have been struggling to balance the need for social outlets for our boys with the need to remain safe. With many of our former activities cancelled indefinitely, we also had to find new and interesting things to do as a family. We planted our first garden last spring, and the boys have also taken up new hobbies, such as bike riding, cross-country running, and cooking.
But parenting during a pandemic can be challenging. We’ve been dealing with these unique circumstances for several months, and we thought it might be helpful to revisit some of the things we can do to help our children through these unprecedented times.
- Create structure. This is one reason our scheduling committee went to tremendous lengths to build our students a consistent schedule to follow while learning on site and at home. We can increase predictability in our children’s environment by developing and maintaining reasonable routines.
- Balance family time with alone time. This one is a little easier to implement for parents with older children. In addition to finding new ways to connect as a family–be it board games, making meals together, or learning new skills–it also helps to create space for each family member to recharge. Plan solo time when everyone can go to their room or a quiet space for an appropriate activity, such as reading a book, working on an art project, talking to friends, or journaling.
- Manage media consumption. Staying informed is important, but too much information can be overwhelming. Remain steady when talking about the virus, and reassure your children that lots of people are working very hard to bring back a sense of normalcy.
- Allow age-appropriate choices. This can help increase your child’s feelings of control. For younger children that might mean choosing their clothing or snack for the day. For older children that might mean generating ideas for the family to do over the weekend, or selecting from options that you provide.
- Focus on the positive. This doesn’t mean ignoring that things are hard right now, but rather directing our attention to that which brings us joy. This helps frame perspectives and builds the resilience muscles we have been discussing.
- Above all, practice compassion with yourself and your children. Replace unhelpful thoughts with encouraging ones.
And remember, the WES community is here to support you. We’ve said it before, but I think we could all use a reminder that we’re not going through this alone. Chaplain Kristen and our counseling team are available if you need someone to talk to or suggestions specific to the circumstances your family is facing.
Head of School