Does it feel like the walls in your home are moving in closer? Are your once “angelic” children suddenly stomping on your very last nerve? Are you envious of the cat – who can just get up and go wherever and whenever she wants and no one tells her to stay home and put a mask on? Take comfort my friend, you’re not alone.
The truth is, someday this crazy season will pass… but rest assured, another crisis will come. So, how do we keep our sanity and lead our families well as we navigate in times of chaos and crisis? I’m no expert, but here are four ideas I think you should consider…
1. Be The Thermostat, Not The Thermometer
We all know the jobs these devices do. A thermostat sets the temperature, while a thermometer simply records the temperature. When faced with a crisis, it’s vital that you, the adult in the home, sets the “temperature” of the environment. Whether you know it or not, your kids are looking to you for how to respond in most situations and certainly in difficult times.
I learned this lesson firsthand when my father died. My children were four and six years old. As I drove home that day, I realized with great clarity that my attitude and behavior when I told them they had lost their grandpa was going to set the tone for their understanding of death for many years to come. I must have sat in the car for thirty minutes praying and grieving before I went inside. But when I did, I was mentally prepared to break the sorrowful news to my children in a way that didn’t make matters worse.
To be a good thermostat, we must have our hearts and minds firmly attached to Jesus Christ, our source of hope. There’s a scripture that says…
This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it] — a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells].
Hebrews 6:19 (Amplified Bible)
What joy we have that we have an unbreakable hope even in unbearable circumstances. Let that hope shine to your children, neighbors, co-workers. They need the hope you have.
2. Take A Mommy Or Daddy Time Out
Yup, it’s true! What parent of a newborn doesn’t recognize they were a better parent after a few hours of rest and withdrawal? This doesn’t change as kids get older, in fact, the need may grow. But, be careful how you choose to retreat during your time out! If your idea of a time out is to mindlessly scroll your social media accounts – which really only adds to your frustration, isolation or discontent – you didn’t take a time out, you just magnified the problem. To take a time out, do something that refreshes your soul.
- Go for a walk
- Read a book, or magazine
- Try out that new recipe you saw
- Plant a few flowers
Whatever it is that helps you shake the cobwebs from your heart, mind and soul and emerge refreshed. Do that!
3. Pick Your Battles
This was the mantra that allowed my husband and I to survive being parents of teenagers. Know what is worth standing your ground for and what isn’t. And choose to release what doesn’t really matter, especially now. If getting the kids to make their beds is a two-hour struggle, let them sleep in messy beds! Seriously. I mean, no one is going to be able to drop in to see it, so what difference does it REALLY make in the long run?!
4. Embrace The Kid In You
Kids are so much more resilient than we give them credit for. I observed my kids looking for moments of fun even in the most difficult of moments. I’m convinced that their ability to set aside the difficulty and just focus on play was part of what allowed them to navigate treacherous times.
If you’ve bumped into me around campus or at the office, I was likely barefoot! I adore being barefoot. And I have a favorite time to be barefoot. When it rains. Here’s why… Whenever I see a rain puddle, I STOMP through that puddle with all my might. I have had more than a few raised eyebrows over my crazed abandon over the years. But here’s why I do it: I simply don’t know how to stomp in a puddle without suddenly feeling like a giddy six-year-old. A grin will cross my face and stay in my heart long after my feet are dry.
What makes you feel like a joy-filled kid? Do it! Here’s a few ideas:
- Get on the floor and have a tickle party with your kids or grand kids
- Have a dance party
- Bring out the board games or craft supplies
- Set up a blanket fort
- Watch some favorite movies and eat too much popcorn
Set aside the trying times for just a while and have fun. If you can do that, those will be the memories your child will be clinging to years from now when COVID-19 is no longer calling the shots.