Whether your kiddos are school-bound this September or they’re still too little, this month is going to be all kinds of nutty.

We’re being bombarded by worrisome information, by advice and admonitions, by change. We worry about family members, about jobs, about finances… and our children. How is this affecting our children? What is the best thing to do for our children?

These are all real concerns, and it can be exhausting. We second-guess everything. But here’s a secret: you can’t solve it all at once. So spare yourself the agony of trying to.

Put the distractions aside and focus on family fundamentals

Twentieth-century parenting guru Dr. Benjamin Spock opened The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care with this advice: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

With more than fifty million copies sold, Dr. Spock knew what he was talking about. You know your family and how to meet their needs better than anyone. Now’s the time to trust what you know, not what external forces are distracting you with.

What do your children need, right now and always?

  • good nutrition, solid sleep, fresh air and exercise
  • intellectual and creative stimulation and time to play
  • lots of love, lots of hugs, lots of being heard

You know how to give them those things. (And it might help to remind yourself that at Brightling, we’re giving them those very things, too!)

Look at your child’s world through their eyes. How do they perceive what’s going on? Are they feeling unsafe because of the worried narrative all around us?

Our kids take their cues on how to feel and react by watching us. So the best way protect them from taking in all these outside worries is to put them aside ourselves.

The youngest of this “pandemic generation” won’t remember the specifics of this strange time. But they will absolutely remember how they felt, and their #1 influence is what they observe in the adults they love most. Mr. Rogers said it beautifully: “When we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves, and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live.”

Keeping everyone feeling good

In an airplane, the flight crew safety demonstration includes an instruction that if the cabin de-pressurizes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else (even a child) with theirs. Why? Because you need to be strong enough to be able to help them.

What do YOU need to be strong?

  • good nutrition, solid sleep, fresh air and exercise
  • intellectual and creative stimulation and time to play
  • lots of love, lots of hugs, lots of being heard

Take care of your own basic needs FIRST. (I recognize this is not what parents normally do, which is why I’m writing this article!) Keep on top of the news as much you need to be informed, but don’t allow it to take over your attention. Go to one or two reputable sources for updates and advice, and shut the rest out. Operate on data, not anecdotes, and you’ll be better-able to keep your eye on what matters.

We’re here for you

You can do this, and we’re here to help. Please reach out if my staff and I can provide any advice or even just a listening ear. We love our Brightling kids and their families, and are happy to help in any way we can.

Karolina Dressler

K. Dressler