Navigating the New Normal.
How to help yourself and your kids ease back into the world.
Hello, Practice families!
A number of years ago (well before I had kids, and a husband who might kill me if I left him to fly solo with two small children for an entire week!), I attended a week-long silent meditation retreat as part of a larger professional training program on teaching kids and teens mindfulness.
At the end of the week, I got back into my car and drove the hour home– but the contrast posed by re-entry to the real world was difficult. I found myself completely overwhelmed and overstimulated by the chaos, speed, and noise of the highway. The radio music that was so delightful on the way to the retreat was jarringly unpleasant and loud after a week in which the birds (in combination with an occasional human voice!) were the loudest noises I’d heard. The cars seemed to be moving so quickly all around me. I had lost my baseline sense of comfort and familiarity with the chaotic, hectic real world– after a week of living in quiet and stillness, everything felt foreign and new.
I think the territory ahead of us is likely to offer some similar discordance– in that the opportunities and demands coming our way likely will present sharp contrasts with the way in which we’ve lived our lives over the course of the past 15 months.
I’m already feeling it– I saw therapists from our team in-office today (while wearing non yoga pant pants!). I worried about my commute ahead of time, found in-person interactions delightful in the moment, but also was so exhausted by the demands for eye contact and small talk that I could go to bed for the night right now (and it’s only 5:00).
Similarly, I have separate plans with two different friends this weekend (out of the house! at night!)–both of which I am looking forward to, but the combination of which feels a little overwhelming after months of few to none of these kinds of contacts.
If you’re noticing these kinds of things too, it’s going to be fine– we’re ALL going to be fine, and we’ll all readjust. In the meantime, this note today is just a PSA to be gentle with yourself and with your kids as you ease back into doing the things you haven’t done in a while. Take it slow. Be intentional about what you add into your life (and how much you take on at any given time). Doing things you haven’t done in a while probably will feel weird or awkward, even if they’re things that you’re excited about or looking forward to (both of these feelings can be present and true at the same time!). Tap into some compassion for yourself, and for your kids. Find things that offer rest and rejuvenation between the things that stretch your comfort zone. And keep going– you’ve got this.
Finally, if you find yourself and/or your kids feeling how I’m feeling– a mixture of optimism and apprehension as you think about navigating these transitions– consider joining us for our summer programs. Mighty Kids will tackle exactly this topic on Tuesday, June 22 (Navigating the New Normal, 10-11am PDT on Zoom) and our summer Mighty Moms programming is designed to help you find your feet after an incredibly difficult year– and to support you in scaffolding a post-pandemic life that really works for you (Tuesdays 12:30-1:30pm PDT; Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00 PDT, both on Zoom).
Looking forward to seeing all of you, on Zoom and ultimately out and about in the world.
A few related resources:
- 3 Tips to Cope with Re-Opening Anxiety (psychologist Jennifer Shannon for NBC Bay Area, approximately 4 minutes)
- From Zoom Screen to Sunscreen: Managing the Transition to an In-Person World (Stanford Positive Parenting Center webinar, approximately 1 hour)
- What should my kids do this summer? (Ask Lisa podcast from psychologist Lisa Damour, approximately 30 minutes)
- Help! My kids don’t want to go outside! (NY Times)