We live in challenging times as we deal with a pandemic for the first time in a century. It has upended the rhythm of daily life and how the family functions, particularly one governed by a custody order. Following the lead of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), we want to offer some advice over a series of posts to address different perspectives of parents and children. In this final post, we suggest ways to keep yourself healthy and sane.
First, consider trying relaxation techniques. We all need some help chilling out during this crisis. If you haven’t done it before—or even if you’re already an expert at the One-handed Tree Pose–this might be a good time to try an online yoga class, focusing particularly on your breathing. Or you may decide to learn to meditate. Your children could even try some of the yoga poses with you.
Second, engage in physical exercise regularly. If you have exercise equipment at home, use it! If you do not, you can find excellent routines for all types of exercise on YouTube, from basic yoga to muscle group isometric workouts. And get outside: while we have limits under our stay-at-home orders, we can take walks and get fresh air as long as we observe social distancing. Exercise is vital to keeping your immune system strong at this time, and also it will help your mental state.
Third, do not put pressure on yourself to become a teacher for your children. If you have not been a homeschooler and do not have an education degree, you may feel you are floundering at helping your children keep up with their schoolwork. Even middle-school math may challenge those of us who last saw one of those infamous “word problems” decades ago! These days there are many, many resources online. We are not alone in our struggle. It’s probably good to have some study time every day, but probably best not to spend the whole day in lockdown. Your child’s entire future will not be determined by whether you can explain quadrilateral equations or teach him/her to summarize the central themes of Hamlet in a five-page essay.
Fourth, try and get into a regular routine. If you are still working, whether from home or as an essential person in an essential business, you have your work schedule and you should stick to it. If you are not working, do not lapse into a lumpy fog on the couch or in bed. Instead, develop a daily schedule where you get up at a regular time and go to sleep at a regular time, and in between, you engage in a variety of activities to keep your mind and body working. If you become a sloth, your children will follow your lead. If you appear depressed, your children will begin to worry.
Finally, cherish the time you have with family. Parent and child isolated together, or parent and child trying to connect virtually, may find that they have special opportunities to give each other their full attention, which seldom happens in our usual rat-race days. When this is all over, those unique connections, those moments of closeness, may become surprisingly precious memories. You are demonstrating now how important your child is to you by the attention you are giving him and your commitment to keeping her safe.
If you have questions about parenting during COVID-19, contact us – we can help.