The Time for Resilience is Now.
Are You Struggling? We Are Too.
Hello, Practice families!
Tomorrow is September. Let’s face it: 2020 has been the longest and simultaneously the shortest year of all time. How is it possibly September?!
Most kids are already back in school– and the rest will be soon. By ‘back in school,’ of course, I mean back to remote learning, on iPads and laptops in different rooms in your homes.
This is not the fall we expected. This is not the start to the school year that we had hoped for. And we are seeing many families hitting a wall around that– the challenges posed by the pandemic (particularly when exacerbated by smoke/air quality issues here in northern California, and the simultaneous larger backdrop of ongoing civil rights tragedies) are starting to feel endless rather than temporary.
I hit my own wall about ten days ago, the night before my older son went back to preschool. For months, I’d been holding on, watching responsibilities pile up, waiting for this week. (Not that there haven’t been delightful things about having my big kid at home– because there were– hiking and biking and art-projecting and baking and crafting and book-reading and SO MANY THINGS!) But this was the week that I would FINALLY get the chance to catch my breath and have the time and space to catch up with all the things I’d been putting on the back burner for the last six months.
The night before our preschool was set to open, the director emailed: they would be closed on any purple air quality days, and although they would be open on red air quality days, they did not actually want us to send our children.
I am a psychologist who has spent over a decade working with kids, teens, and parents, around managing stress and big emotions. And I am not embarrassed (OK, maybe only a LITTLE embarrassed!) to say that I lost it. This was my week! The week I was finally going to have full-time– or at least CLOSE to full-time– childcare again! The week I was FINALLY going to catch up! This is not how things were supposed to be!
But this is 2020. This year is offering us all endless opportunities to work with our own emotions (or not, ha). To work on our ability to tolerate uncertainty, to accept things outside of our control, to be present in the moment, to do what we can with what we have here and now. To remember that emotions are like waves: they ebb and they flow, even in the context of external challenges that might be unchanged.
So if you’re finding yourself getting hit by a wave this week, hold on. The only thing constant in life is change… and that’s true for our emotional state and for our physical circumstances. The way you feel? It will pass. The way things are? That also will pass. In the meantime, as we all wait it out, do your best to find something, anything, that will make you feel better, even if it’s only fractionally (you can find a few of my recent favorites here!). Seize this moment as an opportunity to sit down and brainstorm as a family– this is hard. What things might help? Deep breaths? Family dance party? Walk around the block? Just a little space? If each member of the family makes their own written list (plus maybe a joint list, with things that the whole family can do collaboratively), then you can pull these lists out at the most difficult moments (when it’s the very hardest to think of or put into action things that might actually make you feel better!).
And as always, we’re here and we want to help. More Mighty Kids drop-ins for kids in grades K to 6 and a full Mighty Minds session, coming up. New stand-alone workshop and series for teens, starting soon. One-on-one support for kids, teens, or for you as parents– we’re here for it. Just send us a note.
In the meantime, I’m sending you and your families lots of warm wishes as we all navigate the beginning of the school year. It’s not what we had hoped. But we can– and will– get through it.
P.S.– a few good links:
- Your surge capacity is depleted– it’s why you feel awful (Medium)
- Trying to parent my black teenagers through protest and pandemic. Gorgeous meditation on parenting from Carvell Wallace in the NYT.
- If you also feel this way about Jacob Blake’s shooting, please find action items here.
- I was a screen time expert. Then the coronavirus happened (New York Times)
- Is resilience overrated? (New York Times) (IMO: nope. Does practicing our own resilience mean that the system doesn’t need to change? Also nope.)
- Pandemic motherhood (video)