I have to be honest with you: My plan was to have a new blog post delivered to your inbox this morning. The draft was ready to be finalized last week and I was looking forward to sharing it with you.
But I've found myself hugely distracted this week. Distracted by the constant updates and news about the spread of the Coronavirus and distracted by how it would impact a family vacation on which we were set to depart in 10 days, and had been planning for over a year. I was distracted by what this epidemic means for my two kids' schools, and what we'd do if there was a prolonged closure. Distracted by concern for my dad, who lives in a nursing home, and my mom and my in-laws who are in good health, but of an age where they are considered "at risk."
I can only imagine that many of these distractions have been on your mind and heart this week, too.
And then there's an added layer for us, parents of kids who have neurobehavioral challenges, that might go unnoticed by those around us, and sometimes not even acknowledged by us for what it is, and what it all means. When we are parenting kids who are prone to high levels of anxiety and perseveration, an escalating crisis will start to take its toll on them -- and then on us -- as we try to help manage those fears. When we have children who thrive on routine and structure, and then all of the sudden that structure disappears, we see that absence emerge in challenging ways, behaviorally, and this, too, takes its toll on us. When we have kids who cannot see the "grey" in situations, who can't make sense of cause and effect, it causes them more distress and, in turn, causes us to be more exhausted and depleted. When we have a situation where there is child on parent violence happening in the home, and school is the only time of respite, it can bring on stress and panic to think about this respite being unavailable in the weeks to come.
So yes, it is a lot for you to manage...for all of us to manage.
Recognizing the low hum of stress and anxiety all around us, and its impact on all we do, is important for our resilience. It's important so we can make it through this challenging time with the least-possible negative impact to us, our kids, and our families. While it may feel like there is much that's out of our control, there are still things we can do to protect ourselves from the stress, and care for our nervous system.
- Focusing each day on the basic three: food, sleep and movement is a great place to start.
- Setting a timer on your phone to take three deep inhales followed by three deep exhales each hour helps our nervous system reset to a place of equilibrium.
- Putting limits on our exposure to news and social media gives our mind some time to quiet down from all the noise.
- Calling our support network and letting them know what we need over the coming weeks, due to our very unique circumstances as a parent of a child with extraordinary needs, versus assuming they know what we need, is also essential.
These are just a few ideas, and there are of course many more small but significant ways we can practice self-care, mindfulness, and health in the coming weeks and months.
Above all else, I want you to know that as I've made my way through this week, you've been on my mind. I know your struggles, and how they are likely intensified right now. I've paused many times to think of you, and hope you're finding ways to find moments peace. Remember, you are not alone and we're in this together.