Author: Kyra Folkins
Kyra Folkins is a SUNY Brockport social work intern in SPCC’s Teenage Parent Support Services Program. Kyra’s greatest takeaway during her time with the agency thus far has been learning how to connect with clients and help them find the resources they need. Kyra plans to graduate in May 2020 and hopes to attend graduate school and obtain a Master’s in social work to continue serving families and children.
March 2020 was the beginning of a new way of life for the children and families we serve, as well as our staff. In response to COVID-19, some, without applying for the job, became homeschool teachers overnight; some became stay at home parents as they lost employment; some struggled with how to be home while trying to work; some struggled with their privilege, while others were yet again confronted with the complex inequities that are so deeply woven into our society.
Check that email.
Did the kids get enough to eat?
Another email/call from a teacher?!
No, you may not watch TV.
Fine, yes, watch TV.
I wish I had help.
Am I getting sick?
I should play with my child.
I’m too tired.
Why is no one answering my questions?
Am I a good enough parent? Employee? Partner?
When will this be over?
The pressure, demands, and worries are real and intense. In deciding to write this blog, even, I hesitated to offer ideas, in fear that I may be adding another worry to the list, another “should”…more pressure.
There’s a letter on social media circulating around that says this:
Don’t stress about schoolwork. In September, I will get your children back on track. I am a teacher and that’s my superpower. What I can’t fix is social-emotional trauma that prevents the brain from learning. So right now, I just need you to share your calm, share your strength, and share your laughter with your children. No kids are ahead. No kids are behind. Your children are exactly where they need to be.
All the teachers on planet Earth
Instead of the pressure of doing, perhaps we can focus more on our way of being and our pull to connect. Maybe big picture thinking is too much right now, so what about the small moments? Those moments that you may not even remember in a day or two, but moments when you and your child felt a connection with one another. While tidying their hair in the morning, a few moments of play together, the preparation of a meal, a moment of eye contact and a smile, a gentle stroke of their cheek, a tickle, a tuck and kiss goodnight… you are doing it.
If you’re a person that needs ideas, structured ways to connect with little ones, play-based activities, we’ll offer that below; or maybe you’re a person that has a “toolbox” of ideas that’s deep, yet you’re still left with a void; or maybe you’re both.
So we’ll also offer this:
Be gentle with yourself.
You are doing the best you can.
Being “good enough” is enough.
Take a breath.
It’s ok to be worried and notice little moments of joy and connection.
Know that you and your child are both likely feeling many of the same things (stress, worry, confusion, scared).
Ask for help.
In this time of unknowns and uncertainty, I leave you with this quote from Mr. Rogers:
“How great it is when we come to know that times of disappointment can be followed by joy; that guilt over falling short of our ideals can be replaced by pride in doing all that we can, and that anger can be channeled into creative achievements … and into dreams that we can make come true.”
Play dress up – let your child wear your clothes and do make-overs on each other.
Play “I-Spy”- helps your child learn shapes and colors.
Bake – teach them measurements
Create a scavenger hunt – create a list of items for your child to find around the house.
Make playdough or slime
Use pots/pans and other household items to make your own music
Chase after a ball
Walk around the house pointing and naming things- This allows your baby to become familiar with the names of everyday objects.
Splash in water – Helps with sensory development.
Blowing bubbles, which they can make at home with soap and water
Painting on pieces of nature- Take a walk and find sticks, rocks, leaves, etc. to paint on.
Build a fort- use it to play make-believe games with your child.
Ride a blanket-pull your child around the house on a blanket. It feels like a ride to them and is great exercise for you!
Make up a dance routine
Create an obstacle course using pillows and stuff around the house – pretend the floor is lava!
Resources used to find activities: