Creating an Emotionally Healthy Home in Our Turbulent Times; Finding calm within the chaos | Nechama Kruk, LCSW

Nurturing our children and ourselves to not only survive but thrive.

Parenting is always a challenge. Now, in our current situation, with our children home all day, it’s a whole lot trickier.

Kids are missing their daily routines, dysregulated without their school schedules and desperate for some social structure. Add to that the preparations necessary for the upcoming Yom Tov and the very real fear of a pandemic in our midst, the anxiety levels reach new proportions.

We are navigating new territories as we juggle being both parent and teacher to our own children. We were thrown into these newly defined roles without warning. It is understandable that it will take some time to adjust. We are figuring out ways to help our children fill their day and work things out with each other. Flexibility is becoming our best friend as we realize the only thing we can be sure to expect is the unexpected. It can be daunting. Frightening. Overwhelming.

Looking at this time as a chance to step back and prioritize our relationship with our children is something that can really transform the whole experience both for us and for our children. Specifically focusing on helping ourselves and our children to notice and understand feelings can be infinitely valuable and can be a starting point in creating a whole new reality. As parents it is vital that we become attuned to our kids and be available to help them with their emotions. It’s a whole new perspective. We need to help our children feel appreciated for who they are and feel understood. The impact is lifelong. It’s a shift that is both internal and eternal as it naturally gets passed on for generations.

Let’s get practical and let’s be planful. Providing some semblance of structure can help our children count on a basic level of consistency. Let’s write a schedule and post it on the fridge for the whole family. Now let’s take a tour through the different parts of the day and see how we can make the most of each moment.

Counting Blessings at Breakfast

Make it a routine to sing Modeh Ani and to say Brachos together each morning. Then everyone says one thing they are grateful for. For example: I am thankful that I can see and hear,” or I am grateful that we have warm eggs and toast today, my favorite.” Practicing appreciating what we have boosts our moods and helps us exercise our positivity muscles.

Daily Davening

Choose a chazan or chazanis to lead the davening. Take turns who gets to lead each morning and perhaps give out some tickets or a treat to super daveners.

Long Distance Learning

This one is trickier than it sounds. Assuming there are more children than phone lines in a house, this may take some staggering. Plus, there may be one child who needs help with following along with the teacher’s pace and doing assignments. Assign an older child as a tutor for a younger sibling who can use the help.

Recess!

Use the kitchen timer as the recess bell! Let it ding and let the fun begin. Let the kids air out on a porch or put on some music for everyone to dance around a room. Challenge the kids to show off silly tricks and movements and watch everyone let out all that energy!

Make an obstacle course for even more fun! Create two rows of cans on the floor. Leave space between cans. Place a basket full of stuffed animals on one end of the rows and an empty bucket on the other side. Two children, or a parent and a child, each zig-zag separately between one row of cans, lift an animal, run back to the starting spot, zig-zag style between the cans again, placing the stuffed animal into the empty bucket.

Science Lab

Do an easy science experiment! Use a dry erase marker and draw little frogs or fish in the bathroom sink. Turn on the faucet and watch them swim!

Make Lunch-time a Fun – time

Go around the table and give each family member a chance to share one thing that happened today that felt good and one thing that felt not so good today. For example: I felt proud this morning when I led the davening”; “I felt so frustrated when the baby broke my LEGO structure.” By making space for feelings we are creating an emotionally safe environment for our family.

Pesach Cleaning and Crafting All in One

Transform Pesach cleaning tasks into exciting adventures. Choose one room to clean as a family project. Seek extraneous items that are no longer useful and put them into one big bucket. Challenge the children to create an artistic masterpiece with all the stuff you purged. For example: On garage cleaning day, collect odds and ends of wood, screws, nails and create a robot! Be unique in how you build the head, body and arms. Be creative in how you hammer in nails and screws sticking out in different angles to be the eyes, nose, antennas, ears and mouth! Add some color if you have paint or permanent markers.

Down Time

Allow some time for the kids to unwind before actually falling asleep. Books; Library time; Listening to music or story CD’s are all great ways for kids to relax. See what works for your family to end off the day.

Laila Tov

Physically and emotionally nurturing our children is no easy feat! As we meet the needs of our kids and their emotions, let’s think about ways that our needs and feelings can get met as well. Giving to ourselves is so important so that we can keep on giving. We need to find ways we can get some breaks and even some me-time. We need to practice self-care so that we can continue caring. Identifying safe and supportive people whom we can reach out to for validation and direction can help with this too.

This is a trying time. We daven that everyone should have the strength, good health and stamina to keep moving forward together, with our families toward whole and healthy development. May Hashem protect us and our families and bring us speedily to the Final Redemption.

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Nechama Kruk, LCSW

Children’s Therapy Consultant

LCSC – Lakewood Community Services

LCSC is offering teletherapy and phone sessions. Services can be set up by calling the office at 732-886-6964

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you Mrs. Kruk for your practical and applicable advice! We started with the “Blessings at Breakfast” and i was pleasantly surprised by what my children came up with!! i printed out this article (& sent it out to all my friends on the same boat) and using it as my lifesaver during these turbulent time! May Hashem protect us all!

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