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How is everyone doing right now? Week four of social isolation in most places. I know many of you have been going longer though. I know a lot of you have had school, daycare, and preschool canceled for the rest of the academic year.
Everyone is struggling right now. EVERYONE.
Some more than others, but everyone is struggling right now. We are going through a collective trauma right now with COVID-19.
I’m no expert in trauma, but trauma is often defined simply as “too much, too fast.” We’ve all had that experience simultaneously. Our lives changed too much, too fast. Leaving us scrambling to try and keep up, to adapt, to adjust.
I’ve talked a lot before about how our brains scan for danger. Our brains are constantly scanning our environment for a source of danger.
I’ve mainly talked about it in relation to four-year-olds who perceive danger where there isn’t any simply because of the developmental stage they’re in.
What happens when we’re hiding literally from an invisible danger that our brain can’t identify? We’ve adjusted our lives too much, too fast, which the more primitive areas of our brain gets what that means, there is a danger.
We can’t see it.
There’s no clear path to protecting ourselves from it. Our brain stays on high alert, it keeps scanning, it keeps trying to identify the thing we’re hiding from. Collectively, as a society, we are all hyperaroused right now.
We are all on high alert, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
This is exhausting.
It takes a tonne of energy to be on high alert! We aren’t designed to be on high alert for weeks unended, it’s supposed to be a brief state to get us to safety. We are all really privileged that our brains are not accustomed to being in a constant state of fight or flight.
This means that we’re all feeling so discombobulated right now because our brains are trying to figure out WTF is going on. Where the danger is coming from.
What exactly happened to cause us to change our daily routines so quickly and with so little warning. We’re all doing lots of mental gymnastics and that’s draining our energy reserves.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re tired, you have no get up and go, and you’re only operating at 50% or less.
WE’VE ALL BEEN THROUGH A TRAUMA!!
THIS IS NOT STATUS QUO.
You cannot expect yourself, your child, your spouse, to be operating like normal right now. You cannot.
This is PANDEMIC QUO.
Find your new normal, and be okay with it.
Your children are going to be getting way more screen time and their behavior is going to be worse because they have also been through the same trauma we’re going through, and they are also running on low energy. We have to lower the bar across the board here.
This means lowering the bar, but it doesn’t mean eliminating the bar.
Don’t swing too far in the other direction. It just means having more reasonable expectations of everyone and accepting when someone says no, I can’t do what you’re asking me to do right now. It’s not a lack of ability, it’s a lack of energy.
This isn’t a regression, it’s stress!
We’ve talked about stress before, and it’s very important so go consume that post afterward. This is how kids feel all the time when we’re putting demands on them that outstrip their available energy.
We need to make sure that we actively teach our kids how to take breaks when their energy is getting too low, how to figure out what calms them, how to budget their energy.
It’s a lesson we could do well to apply to ourselves right now too. We don’t want our kids burning out, and we can’t burn out either. If we burn out, everything goes to hell in a handbasket.
We need to be taking care of ourselves first and foremost, and that way we will have the energy to take care of them. They will be calmer. They will watch our model and attempt to reproduce it, which means we have less co-regulating to do.
If you just don’t know how to do that, if you’re just completely stuck on how to get everyone regulating, or you can’t figure out what’s draining everyone’s energy above and beyond trauma and discombobulation, then come join us in ParentAbility!
We’ll walk you through it step by step. We’ll help you identify the stressors your family is dealing with. We’ll help you come up with stress reduction strategies and coping strategies. We’ll help you figure out if the stressors are skills themselves! Weak skills that we need to use are exhausting too! If it is those skills, we’ll teach you how to build them with your kids in 10 minutes a day, while you’re doing routine things like eating dinner, bathing them, going for walks to get some fresh air.
You’d be amazed at the progress you can make by just tweaking what you’re already doing. If you reduce the amount of stress everything they have to do causes by 1/4…well then that adds up to a lot of extra energy!
That’s not to mention the energy you’re spending trying to manage Their energy! You don’t have to try to figure this out on your own.
So if you’re ready to hand off the “figuring out what to do” bit to a professional and maybe even come out of this situation with better-behaved kids than you went into it with, come join us, at Parentability!
No matter what, I want you to lower the bar, k?
Lower the bar, acknowledge the trauma we’re all going through, and stop holding yourself to the status quo.
This will not go on forever, but we’re not even halfway through, so commit to reducing everyone’s stress as much as possible and focusing on keeping everyone regulated, starting with yourself.
We’ll all make it through this in one piece.
Thanks for being here with me.