Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family during Challenging Covid-19 Times: April 2020

Hi - I hope this finds you and your family well.

By now, your student’s school should have reached out and started their online learning. A lot of districts are waiting to hear whether school will be back in person in May, or if this remote learning will continue for the rest of the year, so if you are due for an annual team meeting before the end of the year, ask your contact person (teacher, team chair, etc) how your student’s meeting will be handled.


I know so many people who are feeling overwhelmed with all of these changes and conflicting roles. I've posted 10 suggestions below that I hope you will find helpful (no worries if you are too busy to open the document right away.)


For students who will be starting college in the fall and want to talk before making their final decision, if you have any questions or concerns, or just want to talk to someone different, please let me know.

Kind regards -

Janet

  1. Be careful of COVID-19 overload and misinformation 
    1. Limit the time you spend taking in COVID-19 news; it’s coming at us from all directions, and this can be downright overwhelming. Turn off or stop reading the news and try to check the news once a day. 
    2. Rumors abound about what’s open, what’s not, what’s closing and so on. Check out rumors for yourself by going to reputable sources like state and local government sites for up-to-date information about closings. Go to the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for correct information about the virus.
  2. Try to establish a family routine 
    1. Meals, classes, study time, relaxation time: having a schedule helps us manage our emotions and feel a sense of control. 
    2. If it works, stick with it. In general, work before play. Complete school work before screen time. 
    3. Try to keep your usual sleep schedule. Everyone is anxious and stressed; healthy eating and sleep help our immune systems and our ability to cope. 
    4. Practice deep breathing, relaxation, yoga or qi gong. Not sure how to do these? Check out YouTube.
  3. Get your children’s input about your family routine
    1. If you are trying to balance your own work, overseeing your children’s schooling, and managing your family in this pandemic, you may not be able to do it all; and that’s OK!
    2. Ask your children what they are willing to be responsible for. Even preschoolers can have some kind of small job to help the family that is appropriate for their developmental and skill levels. Engage older children in meal planning, and give teens responsibility for periodically preparing meals.
    3. Work when your children are sleeping. Create a designated work area, even if it’s just the kitchen table during work hours. No room for a work area? Hang a sheet from the ceiling to visually block off space.
  4. Schooling might be tough; 2 key goals: communication and compromise
    1. Remember: teachers are also on a steep learning curve.
    2. Try to clearly communicate with them what is working and what is challenging. Encourage older children to communicate with their teachers directly (and cc you.)
    3. Help your child understand that their schooling might be very different than when they are at school. Help the see the pros and cons of this.
    4. Enlist extended family to help work with your kids via video chat. Grandparents and friends who are not working may love to help when they can.
  5. Use this time to teach your children life skills
    1. This might be a great time to help your child learn to do more: cooking, cleaning, exercising, laundry, gardening and/or mending.
    2. You can also learn something new together. Or you can go through closets and pare down clothes, toys, games, books, DVDs, etc.
  6. Schedule quiet times within the house, and alone time for everybody
    1. It’s ok if it’s hard to adjust to all this “together time” and it’s ok if everyone needs quality time with just themselves.
    2. Everyone needs regular breaks from one another. This could be simply a stroll outside or an hour with everyone in different parts of the home. Allow yourself time to relax and read or binge watch a TV series with or without the rest of the family.
  7. Get outside every day to play and let off steam
    1. Always practice safe social distancing and keep the six-foot distance from others.
    2. Avoid public places that they may be contaminated, crowded, or closed.
    3. Bring your own toys outdoors. Try taking a walk in the rain. Explore your neighborhood.
  8. Find new ways to connect with your children, and people far away
    1. Try to view all this family time as a gift and a break from your busy schedules.
    2. Have fun, play new games, binge watch something together, connect with far away family and friends via video chats or letter writing.
  9. Consider keeping an individual or family journal about what this experience is like for your family; try to maintain perspective
    1. Years from now, you or a family member might want to reflect on this experience.
    2. Write on your own, or make it family activity. Try to end your entries with three good things about the day, however small, to help keep your spirits up.
  10. Download one of these wellness apps. Some apps are free and some are not. These links may help you find the best app for you.
    1. https://www.psycom.net/25-best-mental-health-apps Music and Sounds, Meditation, Other:
    2. Android Market
      1. Calming Music to Tranquilize
      2. Relax & Sleep
      3. Relaxing Sounds
      4. Relax Melodies
    3. Apple/iTunes
      1. Relax Melodies
      2. Relaxing Sounds of Nature Lite
      3. Sleep Sounds Ambient Effects for Free
      4. Sleep Stream 2

Covid-19 and your student's education: a message from Janet: March 2020

I hope this finds you and your family safe and well.


I know this is a stressful and uncertain time for so many families, and I know that there are a lot of things to worry about: your family’s health, your family’s finances, your student’s education and access to specialized instruction during school closures and a host of other concerns.


First and foremost, please take care of yourself and your family. Staying healthy is your primary goal. If you are still going to work, working from home, or dealing with work reduction or unemployment, your family’s finances also need to be managed.


For some students, being out of school and pressing pause on their academic/social demands is a gift. For some students, being out of school is scary, upsetting, and they are left untethered without the structure of school. For some high school seniors and other students looking to change schools, this school closure is not only impacting their plans for this year, but also their decisions about where to go to school in the fall.


For some parents, the thought of managing their job and trying to be their child’s special education teacher, guidance counselor, or other school staff is impossible. I’m putting myself in this category, so don’t feel badly if you can’t do it all.


Please know that I am working with other advocates and advocacy organizations to find clarity about the status of IEPs, services, team meetings, mediation, due process, etc. Know that I see these issues through the lens of my practice, but also through the lens of a parent.


If you have any questions or concerns, let me know.


I’m thinking of you and wishing you health and calm as we make sense of this new reality.


Take care -

Janet