When life gives you more lemons than you know what to do with … make the largest, sweetest pitcher of lemonade you’ve ever made!
As a pediatrician my job is to keep people safe, encourage healthy habits, diagnose health problems and provide solutions to those problems, and encourage parents to nurture their children from birth in order to create positive lasting habits.
As a mom of three, I try to listen to my own advice (easier said than done)!
I’m homeschooling Our kids. I am working night shifts as a pediatric hospitalist. And my start-up dinnerware line, Ahimsa, is hitting roadblocks like companies around the world. We know this virus’s impact is so far-reaching in so many ways. Our struggles pale in comparison to many. It’s important to keep perspective and we daily give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
If we look at what is devastating right now, it’s easy to miss opportunities we’ve been given. We are getting time with our families like never before. Moments to cherish. A time in our life we will never forget. So, how do you want it to be remembered? How do you want your children to remember it? I know I want them to remember home. Family. Love. Laughter. Togetherness.
Here are a few takeaways to consider - things that can have a lasting impact on your children in a positive way.
1. Family Meals
Did you know that having at least three meals together as a family each week is proven to lead to healthier habits in children as they grow up? According to the Journal ‘Pediatrics,’ children are “more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together.
Most of us have no choice but to be at home for dinner these days. Whether it’s a home-cooked meal or takeout, just sitting around the table together sharing that meal is impacting your children more than you might imagine. So, turn off the TVs, ask each other questions and get your children’s brain juices flowing with conversation. Residually, you may learn something about each other that you never knew! For dinner topic ideas follow Ahimsa on social media. We’ve created a #DineAndDish campaign with dinner conversation questions. Ask your family just one and you’ll be amazed at the answers and follow-up questions that may follow!
2. Less is More
There really is no room for superficiality these days. We’re just trying to survive. No place to get all dolled up to go to, no one to impress (regular showers don’t hurt though!). All we need is each other. Our families.
During this time, you may be feeling different kinds of pressures like financial stress, cabin fever, etc. But just stop for a moment and take a deep breath. There is NO one you have to impress right now. You can just be yourself and completely tap back into the person you may have forgotten. I encourage you to reach deep into yourself and “meet” yourself all over again. You might be surprised who you find and how that can make you a better, in-tune parent. This also ties into self-care. Instead of a date with the nail salon, have a date with your bathtub, good book or your meditation/prayer app. Just a few minutes can do a world of wonder on your psyche. This can help with your patience and stress management once real life starts back up.
3. Cultivate Family Traditions
Often times, the things we would enjoy most with our families take a back seat to the overwhelming obligations of work, travel, activities etc. Right now is a perfect time to define what is most important to you and your family and stick with those priorities once the world begins to function again.
According to Childhelp, traditions help “bond us to those we love” and “play a role in shaping a child’s personal identity.” Ellen Galinsky, author of Ask The Children and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute surveyed children, asking them what they would remember most about their childhood. Most of the kids responded by describing everyday traditions like family dinners, bedtime stories and watching television shows together. Happy childhood memories offer positive benefits that children take with them long into adulthood.
This “tradition” can be something simple. At our house we have “pancake Saturday” every single week. It’s something my children look forward to and they are now beginning to help me make the batter, etc. Friday Family Game night has been a long standing tradition of ours as well. But If pancakes and games aren’t your thing, maybe it’s a movie night, a song you sing each morning … anything to provide some sort of ritual. What do you remember most about your childhood? Think about that and know it’s likely something your children would remember too.
Right now we are hyper aware of germs. Instead of using this as a time to instill fear, make it a time for teaching best practices when it comes to hygiene. Frequent hand washing shouldn’t stop once social distancing is over. There are many, serious diseases that still lurk all around us that can be kept at bay with simple measures that are front of mind these days.
My children have two doctors as parents so proper handwashing is engrained in them. We hear the "Happy Birthday" song a lot each day! (click here for an adorable handwashing tutorial). Now’s the time to reinforce that. We don’t need to associate it with COVID-19. Associate it with germs in general. Being clean so they can keep themselves and others healthy for years to come.
Right now is a great time to get your family on a sleep routine! If this is something you have historically struggled with, right now there are fewer excuses. Sleep has healing powers that are immeasurable. Here is a great guide from healthychildren.org about how much sleep your child needs at varying ages.
It could be a good time for you to create some sleep structure for yourself as well. Routine isn’t only beneficial for children. It is crucial for we adults as well. According to Harvard University, Scientists have discovered that sleep “plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.”
So while I know these are challenging times, maybe it’s an opportunity to slow down, reprioritize, reconnect with our families and focus on our health. With so much out of our own control, let’s do what we can do … Let’s love more than we have loved before …
“Where there is love, there is life” - Gandhi