Hello Adoptive Families,
We care about you and your family and know that this is a time that many families are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, and exhaustion. Whatever your circumstances – a newly minted homeschool teacher; an employee figuring out how to telework from your basement; a parent trying to figure out how to cope – we know this is a time when everyone is feeling unusual pressure and many are overwhelmed. We want your family to thrive during this time so we have compiled a list of tips and resources for helping you navigate these challenging times.
Take Care of Yourself
We’ve all heard it – “put on your own oxygen mask first before helping another”, but as cliché as it may seem, the truth is that we’ve all seen, and maybe even personally experienced, the fallout of parents who neglect their own well being. In times of unusual stress like this, we urge you to make this a priority.
- Ensure you’re eating healthy (that means lots of water!), exercising (a neighborhood walk, or jumping on the trampoline with the kids counts too!), and getting enough sleep.
- Even while you’re social distancing, find ways to connect with friends and family via phone/video. It’s important to maintain relational and emotional connection. For example, some families are intentionally doing Facetime with grandparents while everyone eats dinner, or playing board games together online or over video chat. Apps like Marco Polo are a fun way to share life and feel connected to those we may be missing the most.
- If you find yourself overly stressed, impatient with your spouse/children, or experiencing physical exhaustion, it is time to take a break and seek healthy coping mechanisms. Managing your own stress and anxiety is critical at a time such as this.
- Healthy self-careis also a way of caring for your family. Limit your consumption of alcohol and consider limiting your time watching and reading news stories that cause you anxiety. Identify things that help you relax and rejuvenate, and block out time to
- Utilize online and tele-health services to support your own mental and emotional health needs during this time of additional stress. Many counselors and therapists are still meeting with clients online or by phone to provide their services, which are needed now more than ever. If you need help finding a professional, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. And if you were already involved in counseling, connect with your professional to ensure you can continue to receive the services and support you need. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If your emotional wellbeing is depleted, you and your child will suffer.
Support your Child
- Talk to your children about the coronavirus, in an age-appropriate, factual way. Expect that this is not a one-time conversation, but an ongoing dialogue that has to be taken at each child’s pace and readiness.
- Just as you are focusing on your physical and mental health, be equally focused on your child’s eating, exercise, and sleep. Coronavirus has upended many things in our world, but a child’s need for good nutrition, movement, and regular sleep patterns hasn’t changed. Encourage them to play outside as much as possible, and be sure to join them in getting fresh air and sunshine on a regular basis.
- Maintaining a consistent routine is proven to be one of the best ways to help the entire family cope with prolonged periods of stress. This is especially important for children who have had their normal school routine abruptly disrupted, and particularly for children from hard places for whom transition is very hard and often triggers dysregulation. Predictability is a key way to support them. Get up at roughly the same time everyday, get dressed as you normally would, block out times for certain activities and chores throughout the day, eat at the same times, go to bed at the same times, etc.
- Along these same lines, acknowledge and make space for the grief your child is feeling. They, like you, are missing their friends and normal routine. They’re feeling the disappointment of cancelled events, their extracurricular activities, and the uncertainty of when things will get back to normal. Expect that underneath many of their “big feelings” is likely a lot of sadness and fear for the future.
- Limit screen time whenever possible, and carefully monitor the screen time to ensure that children aren’t unintentionally accessing content about the virus that would spread misinformation or perpetuate unnecessary fears and anxiety. Focus screen time on educational and character building content.
- Model healthy coping strategies. Children will match their parents’ behavior. This doesn’t mean that you have do things perfectly all the time. But it does mean that you are intentional in what you model, quick to self-correct when things are off track, and open with your children about how to effective self-regulation strategies.
Focus on Attachment
All parents should be focusing on forming strong, trusted relationships with their children. This is especially true for adoptive families who want to ensure they build a strong foundation with the children who joined their family. We encourage you to seek the unique opportunities presented in this unexpected time together – seek quality play, engagement, and connection.
Check out further tips for implementing and strengthening attachment from TBRI Practitioners over at TCU’s Institute of Child Development blog. Harmony Family Center has put together a number of resources, ideas and tips for kids and parents called Harmony At Home.
While rewarding and enriching, parenting can also be challenging. The reality is, none of us have ever parented through a crisis like this, so you’re not alone in that at all. But we do have the training and experience to come alongside you and offer a listening ear, resources, and guidance if you feel overwhelmed and want help. We all need help at various times and that’s why we’re here! We’re just a phone call or email away. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Staff of Adoption Associates