Self-Care in the Time of a Pandemic: One Editor’s Story, Part 3
I know that for many of you who read my Editor’s Notes in St. Charles Avenue, you enjoy reading about what my 2.5-year-old son is up to the most. But now that we’re on top of each other 24 hours a day, I find myself longing for playdates, Mimi-as-babysitter time and distractions like Farmers Markets and the Audubon Zoo.
So for this week’s installment, I reached out to the greatest expert on toddlers that I know: my son’s teacher, Meryl Rescoe, M.Ed., Lead Teacher at Les Enfants at Trinity Episcopal School. Les Enfants has been a godsend during this “Trinity at Home” time. Each day that he would’ve been at school they send readings of books, sing songs and call each and every parent/student to check in on us – there are even videos for PE and Music classes!
I asked her for the best tips she knows for taking care of yourself while taking care of a toddler, and even if your child is a teenager or of a furrier nature, I think these ideas are useful across the board.
Take it away Meryl!
“First, give yourself some credit. Above all, you’re keeping your toddler safe. They are emotional little creatures and they aren’t always going to be happy. Know that you’re doing your best to keep them safe and that’s the most important thing. If they’re safe and busy, take a minute to yourself when you can; it will foster some independence, as well as sustain your sanity!
Second, routine is important, but so is fun! Toddlers thrive in an environment where they understand what’s expected of them. However, they also need times where you take advantage of the freedom you have to watch movies in your pjs, have breakfast for lunch or turn the family room into a pillow fort. Do not confuse them by trying too hard to recreate the school environment. Think of this as a time to work on your parenting skills, not a time to become a teacher.
Third, you’re going to make mistakes and have imperfect moments. Let your toddler hear you say, “I’m sorry” or “I made a mistake” or “Let me try that again”. You are modeling how to work through a difficult situation. Give your child the language and the skill set for how to persist.
Fourth, try to understand their actions have reasons and emotions behind them. We are all a little extra nervous and frustrated right now, and so is your toddler! Just because they cannot tell you what they’re feeling, doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling extreme emotions. Do not always try to distract them from their emotions; you can feel them together. Let them see you soothing yourself. Model sitting somewhere calming and taking deep breaths. Help them work through their feelings and find some peace. It isn’t your fault if they’re acting out. They are dealing with a frustrating situation with no understanding of what’s happening. Assure them that all of their friends are at home right now, too. Get pictures and videos of people that your child misses so that they feel connected.
Finally, on that note, don’t do this alone! Even though you may be physically isolated, find ways to emotionally connect with other adults in the same situation. Reach out to your child’s teacher or another parent (you can ask your teacher for help making a friend if you don’t have a lot of “parent friends”). Find someone who knows what you’re going through. Talk to someone who will listen to your frustrations or help you problem-solve. Build yourself a support system.”
With that last tip especially in mind, I would like to reach out to any of you reading who might need an adult voice or face to chat with, vent to or cheers with! Email me at Morgan@MyNewOrleans.com and I’ll set it up. We are all in this new world together!