Last Saturday I did my usual: get up early, go to the gym, and head to the grocery store to grab a few things. I like to go to Fred Meyer because it has a Starbucks, and I get to enjoy my coffee while leisurely rolling my cart down the aisles. Usually no one out is out Saturday mornings, so it feels like an extra special treat away from my busy schedule.
But walking into Fred Meyer last Saturday was a biohazard. The store was packed, and the shelves were barren. Not only was COVID-19 concern suspended over the store like dust particles from the media combustion, but it seemed like the overnight snowfall awoke every Central Oregonian to the alarm of not having enough.
I would have rolled my eyes in annoyance, except the people amassing the dregs of the shelves weren’t stereotypical out-of-touch-with-reality doomsday preppers. They were normal people, like you and me. By the time I had reached check-out, panic had surged my own voltage spike more than the coffee clutched in my hands. I had better grab those peanut M&Ms on sale over there, because who knows when I’ll get chocolate again, I thought to myself.
I don’t even like peanut M&Ms. What was going on?
It took a few minutes for me to remember one important fact: Even though I am a rational human being, I am still human. It’s normal to have an automatic fear reaction during upheaval and uncertainty. Have you felt fearful lately too?
As Mamas, we feel it even deeper because we have more people to look out for than just ourselves. We want to protect and nurture our children. We wonder if we are doing the right thing or responding the right way. The uncertainty of trusting our parenting can compound our fear and then everything just…gets overwhelming. Cue the peanut M&Ms.
most important thing to remember is this: Your kids will attune to your
emotions. If you are fearful, they will be too. Conversely, if you are at
peace, they will be too. Here are three tips for helping your kids get through
- Make your own self-care an even bigger priority. Yes, you read that correctly. Since your kids attune to (pick up on) your emotions, it’s more important than ever that you are at peace. Turn off the TV. Take a nap. Do things you enjoy, both alone and with your kids. Get in touch with God daily (hourly if you need to!), even if you can’t go to church right now.
- Openly assure your children that God is the provider. Their little eyes are observing the grocery-store frenzy, and their little ears are listening to the news. Say to your children, “It feels like the world has gone crazy! And yes, it’s wise to think ahead about what we need and buy it, but remember that it’s God who provides the things that we need. We can trust God to always provide for us because he loves us.”
- Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations. In my book When Your Child is Grieving, I write about how to facilitate hard conversations with children. It’s important to be honest with your children about what is happening, but phrase that honesty in language that they understand. They only need to know basic facts. Answer their questions simply and directly. Reassure them that God loves them and will take care of them.
When you are at peace, your children will be too.
I would love to say that I was able to connect with God and leave Fred Meyer in a state of peace, but that wouldn’t be honest. Admittedly, my anxiety comes and goes, especially with the influx of news. I’m sure you can relate—and your kids definitely will experience the same highs and lows of fear. There’s power in admitting that we don’t have it all together. It is through that vulnerability we experience deeper connection with God and with each other. If you need extra support, acknowledge it and reach out. Despite “social distancing,” we can still find ways to connect with each other. This blog is a great start!
What are some specific, tangible ways that you can experience God’s peace today? What are some ways that you can socially connect today, even if you are home with your kids? Please share below!