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For Adults Who Care for Young Children

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  • Parents and Caregivers Thrive on Routines, too!

    As parents and/or caregivers of young children, you have likely thought a lot about how simple routines in your daily life impact your child’s wellbeing. Keeping a regular nap and meal routine is just one of those things that, when overlooked, can create very noticeable changes in the behavior of a child. An overtired child may struggle to fall asleep or be exaggeratedly sensitive, for example. A child who thrives on a regular meal schedule may become irritable when that schedule has to shift. Their body tells them that something is out of the ordinary, and it’s pretty easy to see that it doesn’t feel good. 

    Over the last (nearly) two years, however, the routines that we, as adults, have built to keep our daily lives flowing smoothly have become much more difficult to maintain. In fact, many adults have experienced an utter lack of control over this. A mother who lives, works and raises three children in St Paul recently commented on her experience related to feeling the impact of lost routines… 

    “It has been difficult maintaining routines this year with the children because of COVID.  In the beginning of the school and up until our kids were vaccinated, the kids had to quarantine several times, disrupting their routines, as well as ours.  The kids would do virtual learning, but they would have many virtual meetings, so one of us would miss work to stay with them.  Sometimes we would keep all the kids at home if one of them had to quarantine, and now the kids have to do virtual learning again, because a lot of teachers are out sick and there’s not enough subs to cover for them."

    Routines are not only good for children; they are also very important to the adults who care for them! And not being able to rely on them has been pretty hard for many adults. The lack of predictability is one of the only things we can be sure of! That, in itself, is a cause of stress. How does an increase in your baseline stress level impact your behavior or the way that you feel? How do you manage the emotions that arise in the face of uncertainty and disruptions? 

    The article linked here explains why uncertainty creates stress, but even more importantly, it provides a number of strategies to practice when routines get disrupted, yet again, such as noticing and tuning in to your surroundings. This is a mindfulness, or grounding, strategy that can soothe the brain. “Stay in the present” includes focusing on sounds, sights, sensations, and other sensory stimuli to tone down distressing thoughts or feelings. This won’t solve the big problem, but will help you get your brain back into a calm and balanced state before you tackle the problem you are facing. 

    We hope you find a trick that will help you when things take an unexpected turn. When you are able to effectively manage your stress, your child benefits, but also learns from your example. COVID seems as though it will continue to create new challenges for some time, so there’s no better time than now to further develop our stress management skills!  

    Child Mind Institute article: 

    Dealing With Uncertainty in the Face of Omicron:

    How to stay positive and manage stress

    by Caroline Miller

     

  • Adults who care for young children need to care for and nurture themselves. The article contains some tips on self-care strategies that you can use to help reduce and manage stress and to take care of yourself so that you are at your best for the children in your life!


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