Calm the Coronavirus Chaos

Many of you may be experiencing a new level of chaos in your lives right now. For those of you who are actively “socially distancing” due to coronavirus, while still trying to work and juggle kids at home, may I offer you some Calm the Chaos suggestions.
1. Sit down with your family and discuss (even write out) how you want to feel throughout this time. How are you each feeling? How can you support each other? What will you do when you start getting on each other’s nerves? What are you grateful for? What are the opportunities for you and your family through this? These are unprecedented times. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, it’s unfortunate. Yes, we are going to miss events and friends and “normal” life, but we also have an opportunity to embrace this time and teach our kids what is most important in life, especially how we handle challenges.
2. Create a “new normal” routine during this time, for yourself and your kids. During times of chaos and uncertainty, we tend to do better when we have some predictable structure to follow. Have a morning routine that gets you going, even if going means walking down the hall to work at your dining room table. Get up at the same time each morning. Get in some exercise, eat breakfast, shower and get out of your PJs! Set a time to go for a walk around the block, and eat lunch. Decide when you will stop working and have a plan for when and what you will eat for dinner.
3. If your kids are old enough, talk through and agree on a schedule for them as well. How much screen time do you agree to? What other activities and when will they do them throughout the day? It may even help them (and you) to write out their “non-school, school-day schedule” so that you aren’t fielding questions or hearing “I don’t know what to do” all day. Consider keeping some regular school-day routines in place like eating breakfast by a certain time, getting dressed, even making a lunch in the morning that they can grab easily when it’s time. Agree on when they will do different school subjects, like “PE” (something physical), reading time, math time, etc. The more you schedule in advance, the less you have to navigate moment to moment. At the end of each day, adjust and review the schedule for the next day with each kid. Again, have them participate by writing or drawing out their next day’s schedule. This will help them remember and own it. And if your kid is someone who likes to check things off a list, it gives them that as an activity the next day. Win-win.
4. Now is absolutely the time to focus on your health and happiness habits. They are the things that will support you physically (healthy immune system!!), mentally (stay productive!!), emotionally (stay calm!!) and spiritually (keep the faith!!). Moving your body, being mindful about what you consume (foods, beverages and media), meditation/prayer, acts of kindness, gratitude, intention, priorities, connected conversations. All of these things will help get us through this time in the most positive and peaceful way. I’ve started using my Calm the Chaos Journal again to help me integrate all of these each day.
NOTE: One thing that has become VERY clear to me right now is how privileged I am to even be able to think about doing each of these things, especially during a time like this. I do recognize that there are so many who are in survival mode and the impact of them not being able to work or their kids being home is HUGE and much more than an inconvenience – it’s catastrophic. 
If you are someone for whom this is a mere inconvenience, and have the means to help and support others who literally do not know how they will survive during these times, I encourage you to find ways to support others who need the help. Donate to your local food bank. Have some groceries delivered to a family you know needs it. Stop whining and complaining about how inconvenient this is and be grateful for what you have!
 
Nicola Ries Taggart is an Alameda mom, life leadership coach and author of Calm the Chaos Journal (Chronicle Books, 2018). Learn more at nicolataggart.com or calmthechaosjournal.com.
 
 

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