By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
If you ask parents what are the latest challenges they have beginning the fall school year, no doubt, back to school is one of the major concerns. With so many of us affected by changes to school activities, our wellness focus this week is on resources for parents, care takers and those who need to work and with children at home. COVID-19 has impacted the well-being of all of us in some capacity, and it’s important to recognize our own needs in addition to attending to those of our children. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has provided the following tips in taking care of yourself, so that you may best take care of your family:
- Check in with other friends or colleagues. Share concerns, identify difficult experiences and strategize to solve problems. You are not alone in what you are experiencing! As you are well aware, depending on where you live, the return to school choices varies. Many of you are asked by school districts to determine whether you choose distant learning for your child or you want to attend in person. Each parent has to verify how up to date the school district is in following CDC guidelines and whether they are sufficient resources to support the recommended school options. Really do your home work first!
- Increase leisure activities, stress management and exercise. Allow time to take care of yourself. If you are stressed, it could dribble over to your children. It is okay to sit down, think of peaceful and joyous moments from your past trip or event, make yourself comfortable, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. It is not a luxury to be quiet and do nothing. Take a deep breath and say your favorite prayer.
- Pace your efforts. You don’t have to be everything to everyone all at once. This is such a good advice. I remember 25 years ago I worked for a department that was totally chaotic. Finally we got a new chief in. He summoned all the clinic staff and his family to come in to the clinic on a Saturday. In a big waiting room, he assigned areas of where the piles of files should go. Now this was before we had electronic files. We had boxes of un-opened letters, files, papers; He picked a corner for medical record, another corner for business communication, the third corner for authorization and the fourth one for surgical booking. The take home lesson is, we have to start somewhere, and you rip a piece of the problem on day at a time. Eventually if you set daily goals to complete the chores, the project will see to its end.
- Find one moment of joy with your family, and one moment of joy for yourself every day. Stay aware of limitations and needs- recognize when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired and HALT to take the appropriate self-care measures.
- Manage expectation. If you decide to do home schooling, a “rigid” schedule needs to be adhered too. Set up a mutually agreed upon schedule and space for home schooling. The children need to have breakfast and properly dressed before clicking on the computer. Lunch time is lunch time and should not be used for games or other activities. Good nutrition is part of a good curriculum for successful schooling. No snacks during the class hours. Remember, you are in a “classroom” and you should behave like the teacher is instructing you in person.
- We cannot emphasize enough the health benefit of a good night sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes a bedroom dedicated for sleep only. The bedroom is not the game room, not a TV family room. The furniture should be just a bed and nothing else.
It seems crazy to say this. But I really want you to enjoy what you can under these challenging circumstances. We hope that it will come to pass, sooner or later.
Your homework assignment from the Care Ministry this week: take good care of yourself and help a family who might struggle with returning to school issues.
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