Create certainty in uncertain times
As a mother of two teenage daughters, business owner and CEO, Montessori educator, loving wife and caring homeowner, I know what it means to “juggle chainsaws”. During times of uncertainty, like this pandemic, it is my duty – better yet, our duty – to stay informed on the topic of safety, take the best safety measures, stay home, wash hands and make the best of the situation. The latter is probably one of the hardest tasks for most people. “How in the world do I keep a safe and sound mind during this uncertain time?” you probably ask. The answer is: “Create as much certainty as you possibly can in your own environment. That starts with your mindset, your clarity, and your time ownership.”
Right now, parents are either working from home amongst all the other family members and chores that are waiting to be done, or in the worst case one or both parents lost their jobs and entrepreneurs are struggling to keep their business afloat.
Teachers are asked to move their curriculum to an online version and students are asked to stay focused in front of a computer screen (if they’re lucky enough to have a computer) for an entire day – day in, day out. Daycares have been closed for safety pre-cautions, toddlers, pre-kindergartners and kindergartners are expected to stay entertained while mommy and/or daddy work from home. In worst cases, mommy and/or daddy are trying to figure out how to pay rent, groceries, utilities because the income is no longer coming in.
Financial stress, lack of communication and constant arguing are some of the main reasons families fall apart. This stress is heightened through this time of uncertainty as emotions are raw and amplified.
We (the parents and guardians) are asked to stay calm, figure out our “new normal”, maintain “socially distant” and remain calm for the sake of ourselves and our family.
Amongst all, we yearn human connection!
To add insult to injury, being annoyed, stressed out, frustrated and anxious, makes our kids annoyed, stressed out, frustrated and anxious as well.
This means, if you want your children to stay mentally strong, you, the parent have to take care of yourself first, gain clarity, find joy, be grateful and stay/become calm. Sounds simple. I personally use two apps to gain more calmness and clarity, especially in times of uncertainty. Your contentment will reflect on your environment and the people that live in it:
So the question now is HOW? How to make time and space to juggle all these TASKS? How to create a NEW NORMAL? How to deal with UNCERTAINTY? How to COPE? How to stay CALM?
The answer is simple and complex all in one: Create elements of CERTAINTY:
- Have family meetings: dump all your thoughts on a big piece of paper, talk about your ideas, thoughts, fears and hopes with each other – be free of judgement.
- Create a time-system with chores and responsibilities for each child, each family member, make specific time slots for specific tasks, love on each other, be grateful for one another
- Set boundaries: in time & space, outline working hours and family-time hours.
- Let everyone in the family have a voice and allow them to be part of this process and find agreement in it. Put it in writing and hang it on the fridge.
- Plan free time for fun & balance.
- Make time for family activities, create & play games, give all family members ownership for specific tasks (see meaningful task list).
- Move, make intentional time do yoga or a workout routine (either together or separately)
- Create clarity and certainty: talk & listen, strategize and give gratitude for the things
you have (rather than focusing on the things you don’t have at the moment), be intentional
You are in this together, your children are an active part (or at least that’s the goal) of your family. Allow each family member to be a contributing member and watch how this time will draw you closer together. It is work and it will be worth it.
- Give your child/ren meaningful tasks, allow them in the kitchen and integrate them in everyday chores. Rebellious behavior comes from frustration and frustration is caused by meaningless tasks.
- Have a clear daily structure and allow time for creativity. Allow boredom to spark creativity.
- Make time to spend outside (keep your distance to others, use all safety measures to not be exposed), walk in the rain, go bike riding, jog, play ball with your family, plant a small garden or plant some seeds – all of this will make your inside time more bearable.
- As a family, create boundaries, make a day planner with the tasks that each family member wants and must complete.
- Make a vision board with the things everyone would like to do, once this time is past, be specific and write it down what each family member is looking forward to.
- Create an individualized space for reading, to study, to work, to play, to be by oneself and also intentionally create time and space to come together, create new games and play them, be creative, paint, sculpt and cut.
- Identify home improvement tasks that you can do together.
- Cook meals together, bake, make easy recipes, picnic, work out, do yoga via YouTube or an app.
- Laugh! Hug. Talk, listen, sing and make up songs, dance, learn a new language together, read a book together, watch funny YouTube videos, go through your old pictures together and scrapbook a photo-book.
- Write or draw letters to friends and family, create a book together (draw, write and be creative).
- Build a fort,
- Create your own funny videos on your phone.
- Create a gratitude jar where everyone gets to write something that they are thankful for each day on a piece of paper, fold it and put it in the jar.
In simple terms: create balance and get harmony.
As a parent, this all starts with ME, my communication. I am in charge of my kindness, wellbeing, calmness, my joy and therefore I am in charge of how my children are kind, well, calm and joyful. My inner peace will flow over to my children, my environment and my family. It starts with ME. I take care of myself, remind myself daily that the quality of thoughts, words, feelings and tasks are my choice. I reap the results. I connect with kindness, understanding, knowledge, structure and fun to the people that are closest to me. I create the ripple effect that I yearn for. It starts with me.
Renowned Montessori educator & parent, International Speaker, Founder of The Montessori School of Cleveland, and Owner and CEO of the NLP Center of Atlanta