Ok, I’m going to get real. The last week has been… bizarre. We’re in this weird little routine that feels normal most days and then something happens that throws everyone off kilter. For example:
- On Tuesday, the oldest refused to sit still during rest time and, as a result, was a basket case by 4pm, resulting in an epic tantrum about what color popsicle he had. This encouraged the middle one to consistently and loudly point out that he was listening and was behaving. That went over really well, as you can imagine.
- On Wednesday, we all just got back into the house after a walk and, as I was getting the dog situated, the middle one bolted out the front door and into the middle of our street as I tried to delicately run to catch him with the baby still in the carrier attached to my chest. This was all done to the soundtrack of the dog barking at another dog walking by and the cackling of my oldest who thought this was the height of comedy.
- And on Thursday, the baby spit up every time I looked away (I think he did it on purpose) and was working through teething pains and a growth spurt. This made for a very tricky day for the older two because my usual attempt at equally dividing attention was not possible and, as a result, I found the middle one proudly showing off his new artwork after he was left alone for a short time: crayon on the wall behind his bed.
I have no idea where the crayon came from since crayons are not allowed in the bedrooms FOR. THIS. VERY. REASON.
These are just some of the big things that happened this week. And as I cleaned up after the boys went to bed and got the house ready for the next day, I found myself feeling really down. I know my triggers. I’m self-aware enough to know when I need a minute to regroup. But it has been an unrelenting requirement for me to be 100% on every day for the last 28 days. And it caught up to me this week. And it caught up to the boys, too.
And like I said, I was really down on myself for being so grumpy with the boys, confused about their behavior and why they felt the need to test me on everything all day, every day.
And then I stumbled on this article about regression in kids. And man was it eye-opening.
“Stress and anxiety can show up in all kinds of ways in children: irritability, defiance, clinginess. But one of the most common responses is regression. Sleep regression and toddler potty training regressions are common, but psychologists say all children (and adults) may regress in times of stress.”
Stressed. The kids were stressed. And anxious. How could they not be? Our routine changed literally overnight. We haven’t seen anyone different in weeks. Only Daddy can run out to go to Target or the grocery store. There are masks and gloves involved when he leaves. We wash our hands ALL. THE. TIME.
I’ve been having strange dreams and not sleeping well. Why would it be any different for my children who, though young, are still oddly aware of what’s going on around them?
So, though I normally share a few lessons as part of my Quarantine Diaries posts, today, I’m just going to share one: tune out to tune in.
We’ve talked about this on our blog quite a bit and we share this bit of wisdom with our clients. Here’s the gist: you cannot be clear about who you are, like what gets you excited and what triggers you, unless you take the time to tune out the noise of the world and tune in to you.
So, this is really a two-pronged lesson.
#1) Tune out the world to tune in to yourself. If you’re feeling irritable, take some time to figure out why. When things are going particularly well, allow yourself time to reflect. Do more of what’s working, what feels good. Figure out where or how to improve on the things that aren’t going so well. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Stay ahead of the triggers and stressors that change your mood and temperament.
#2) Tune out the world and the voice in your head telling you what you’re doing wrong (or not good enough) and tune in to what your kids are telling you. It could be quite literally what they’re telling you. It could be body language or specific behaviors. It may be a message hidden in the words they’re actually using (intentionally or not). Pay attention to what they’re saying and doing. Quite often, you’ll find a seemingly simple mannerism is actually speaking volumes.
- Science Experiments – Check out some easy DIY science experiments and tie it into the weather. Plant seeds and watch them grow. Use shaving cream in a glass of water with food dye to resemble rain from the clouds. Vinegar and baking soda for the sizzle effect (add food coloring to create a rainbow). Get creative and help your kids make connections and draw correlations to what’s going on.
- Get Moving –Teach the kids the Electric Slide or the Macarena. I tried to teach my boys Cotton Eyed Joe and they stood still, staring at me with this half smirk, half terrified expression (yup, achievement unlocked. I am well on my way to being an embarrassing mom). Have them join you for a short workout (like one of my favorites, 8-minute abs) or turn on a Kids Yoga channel on YouTube. Just start moving. It not only helps get extra energy out, but it also helps to clear the mind of any negative energy and thoughts.
- Talk – I mentioned this in my last Quarantine Diaries entry: make time to talk. I sat down with my oldest every night this week to try to talk about the day with him. Thursday night was the first time I was able to get him to articulate what’s going on: he misses school and his friends, but he likes being home. He wants some space but wants to play with his brothers. He wants some “mommy time” but also wants to be with his brothers and his dad. He’s confused and he doesn’t know how else to explore or fully experience that emotion. He doesn’t know how to navigate this emotion on his own, but after talking to him, I now know how I can help guide him to better understanding a more productive way to respond to this emotion and the corresponding frustration that comes with it.
Check out our COVID-19 Resource Center to help you create a more mindful response to our evolving definition of “normal.”
If you feel like relationships are getting strained due to the quarantine, join me for my FREE 30-minute webinar on Wednesday, April 15 at 8:30pmET to learn how to have your relationship(s) survive quarantine.
Consider reading The Quarantine Diaries: Day 17