In trying times, trying to keep it all together takes everything we have- and more.
In uncertain times, we certainly need help managing ourselves, our families, our work- and more.
And in times where everything seems to be falling apart, we can pull together and work to bring strength and hope to our families, schools, communities – and more.
Bodybuilders know they gain the most strength lifting the heaviest weights. So also in life do we gain more strength from heavier “lifts.” As our nation faces one of the heaviest lifts in its history, parents and school leaders are daily facing more questions than answers and more problems than solutions. The intense stress of the situation for adults has a great impact on the children and youth they care for each day. We believe this stress can be turned into an opportunity to build strength.
It seems contrite to offer the well-known euphemism, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and yet this time of great difficulty can be a time we pull together to make the most of these opportunities in order to grow and learn. It is a time to talk about things in life that are in our control, and things that are not in our control. Find courage to make positive choices in areas we can control, and peace to accept things in our life that we cannot.
Here are a few ways to make the most of these difficult days, and help children and youth to do the same:
1. Offer the assurance of your presence. Life’s hard roads are hardest when you walk them alone. But walked with a person who loves you and promises to stay with you, they become much more easily traversed. Even if you’re walking very slowly and unsure of the next step, having someone there to hold your hand keeps you moving forward. As we say in our parent programs “Be there for your children.” Research shows the power of parent presence to ease stress and give strength.
2. Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation. While assuring your children of your presence, you can at the same time be honest with your own worries and fears and open the door for them to talk about theirs. They are watching how you respond to each day’s difficulties, and it will pull you closer together if you can acknowledge the challenge and let them follow your lead through it.
3. Cherish the gift of time together. Most families are finding themselves with more “together time” than usual weeks give. While this can certainly present a whole host of challenges, work together to find creative solutions. Plan together a schedule for each day, and set time for shared activities, alone time, and rest time. Pull out old games, take on a house project you never have time for, take a walk or bike ride, or try some new recipes.
4. Take a break from “busy.” Families often complain about how busy they are. Now with cleared calendars comes an opportunity to spend quality “down time” with each other. Take time to rest and practice peace and quiet. Unplug by turning off devices. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read and haven’t had time for. Sit together (try sitting in a room or chair you never use) and get some good in-person conversation going.
5. Learn about and work on resilience. We say in our programs that resilience means “not giving up or giving in, growing strong through life’s challenges.” Look up a dictionary definition of resilience and grit. Talk about some past challenges that you have each faced individually and as a family, and how you were able to come through them even stronger. Help everyone see today’s challenges as another of life’s challenges that you will come through together.