BIG GIRLS DO CRY… Part 2 – tania
No man is an island… however right now, every woman who is home with her kids and hubby in lockdown is considering shipping herself off to one…
With so many changes in such a short time, it’s no wonder mental health troubles have skyrocketed. Not only are we experiencing a shock to our daily routines, but most of us are doing it confined with our entire families. During a time of social distancing and isolation, we are all turning to screens and the internet to fill the void of socialising and ‘normality’. We are all starting to crave interaction with anyone other than just our immediate family!
Enter Dr. Justin Coulson… Family therapist and all-round great guy that puts any Dad or Mum (if I’m honest) to shame – pretty much the male Mary Poppins. For me at least, he could very much be the answer to getting through the next couple of months – or at least his methods could be. However, as an expert his delivery can be quite long-winded, and to be quite frank I don’t have hours on end to re-write his book; so to benefit you all I am going to make this a short, sharp and sweet read… because I’m also writing this in between episodes of “The Magical Adventures of Spirit the Wonder Horse” and “Nailed It”.
Granted, I am no qualified therapist – but raising a nearly 8-year-old, a 6 year-old, and a husband with ADHD, I think I am qualified to pass on some pretty easy-to-follow advice that stems from a qualified doctor!
To make this time at home a little more bearable (she types as she also pours herself another glass of red), Dr J.C credits his happy home to a few core founding steps and beliefs that, his years of practice and education as a therapist, have so readily prepared for us as viewers and readers, to reap the benefits from.
First Core Foundation:
Young children – basically anything up to 8-10 years of age – have little-to-no emotional regulation. Now you might read this and think, “well, my kid is totally able to regulate their own emotions”. It’s what we all want to think. But the fact is, they actually can’t. So before you get grumpy and flip for the 10th time today, try using Dr J.C’s method below to stop yourself from adding tension to the household.
1. HALT – yep that’s right! Simply, stop. Push your tongue to the roof of your mouth and take 3 deep breathes through your nose and out your mouth. Then ask the following questions to your loved one:
Generally, when kids are feeling more than one of these emotions, it gets messy for them to convey what they are feeling. So, it’s up to us as their emotional regulator guides to help them define what they are feeling! Once you have identified what’s going on you can work together to resolve the issue… But! this takes A LOT of self-discipline from, guess who… YOU! You are the one who can actually alter the outcome of whether this situation is resolved or whether it continues and spirals. So, before you help your tiny human to regulate their emotions – make sure you regulate yours first!
Next, base your day to day on the following 5 things…
1. Connections – frequent touchpoints. Make a schedule of calls to loved ones and friends and get your kids involved in it – showing them they still have their social connections is really important – try and get in a minimum of 3 a day. This is another great way to remind us that we are not alone!
2. Be active – If you’re lucky enough to have a big back yard – what a perfect time to use it! Get out the soccer balls and the yoga mats… and if you can cartwheel – now is the time to show your kids who their Mumma is – but be active! If you’re like me who has a courtyard and nowhere at all to play – go for bike rides, walks or even pull up some online dance/yoga classes or ‘kids get your sillies out’ videos – see below for my favourite links.
3. Pause and relax for 2 hours – do literally nothing. I’m not even kidding, and neither is Dr Justin – put a movie on for the kids, make them some snacks, give them some colouring in, set a timer and tell them you are relaxing. This sets boundaries for both of you!
4. Learning every day – Home-schooling… I know – it’s a new world. But you need to keep them engaged – because at the end of the day – they are kids and they are still developing! It’s important to keep them learning – but not for 6 hours straight. Dr J. actually recommends no more than two hours in total of learning for school aged kids in primary school. And for the sake of your sanity – make it fun – Google some things the night before and prepare the next day – There are so many fun activities you can do with your kids via Youtube!
5. Make a difference in others’ lives – Be kind. We say it every day – but unless your kids see you doing it, how will they know? Before this lockdown happened the first week was pretty flexible and it was also really out of the ordinary – so I ran to Kmart picked up some bubbles and a chocolate bunny for each of my kid’s friends and we drove around and played Secret Santa: Easter Edition (literally cost me next to nothing). The return we got was the smiles from our friends and their families who were grateful we thought of them. Since then – we have been really sick and our friends have dropped around eggs for Easter, flowers, cookies and hot cross buns and organic Kale! Small gestures make big differences in others’ lives and they always come back to you. Brainstorm on what you could do to help someone and get the kids involved. You could take your elderly neighbours bins out or bring them in… you could bake something for a family member and drop it at their door! The options are endless and it will feed your emotional garden too.
So, in summary, you may feel alone, you may even feel like that island is still the go-to… but, before you start the escape plan – Give Mr Poppins a try. It might take a couple of goes to get it right but it’s not hard and the best thing is that it’s easy to follow. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, we’re simply realigning ourselves to remind us what’s really important – YOUR SANITY!
See my go-to videos below hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Dr Justin Coulson:
Meditation with Adrianne:
National Geographic Kids
BTN – Behind the News