A Change in Perceptions, If Only for a Few Minutes Destroys Negativity

This week’s blog is written by Cassandra Otoo, SCY’s Program Coordinator for the Juvenile Justice Collaborative.

Without a doubt, being a parent is tough and being a parent during a pandemic requires you to tap into your inner superhero powers. This month I wanted to take some time to highlight my own personal tips on surviving quarantine. I thought I would start by using some humor to break the ice and share this video that shares my reality: https://youtu.be/XMp6Mx34ino

Cassandra’ s Quarantine Parenting Tips:

  1. It’s okay to put yourself in time out: Establishing boundaries with my family has been working in my favor. Parents — you have a lot that you’re balancing, and sometimes you may feel like life is getting the best of you. You may want to scream or go in the closet and pretend you’re not home! I am finding that protecting my sanity is essential during this time of quarantine. Communicating to my family members that I need 30 minutes to reset has helped me tremendously! My children know that when mom’s door is closed that I am off limits. Please create your sacred space!
  2. Building space for mindfulness has been key to saving my mental health. Creating intentional space to focus on what going well in my life has been so meaningful. Exploring meditation websites and stimulating my senses with candles, deep focus music during work hours, sitting near sunlight when possible, creating vision boards, are all tasks that help to center me and allows me to focus on the things I can control. These grounding activities remind me of the many blessings that can be taken for granted and helps me to detach from stress and worry and helps me focus on what’s going well in my life. A change in perceptions, if only for a few minutes destroys negativity.
  3. Build out your Sunday night: “Let’s talk about it or Break Bread! Food brings my household together.  I think I have unconsciously been raised to cook big Sunday meals usually consisting of everyone’s favorites, this helps set the tone for the start of our work and school week.  I use this time to invite my kids to share my kitchen space with me and contribute to the menu or just have some “freeing” conversation. Pay attention parents — you would be surprised as to what you find out about your children during this time. Explore with them during this time, usually this allows me to see my children in a different light and offers me an opportunity to challenge them in dealing with real life situations.
  4. Dancing it out with your kids: Release inhibitions and show them your relaxed side! Being a single parent has been rough on me at times and it’s important for me to separate “Good Cop” and “Bad Cop” because guess what, TAG I am it! My nickname a.k.a “The Warden” has pushed me to be intentional about allowing my children to see me more relaxed. Finding ways to have fun with my kids can be hard when you’re on a budget! But what has worked for us is turning our living room into an exercise/dance space. It important for my children to seem me in a relaxed state because according to them I am always doing too much.  Allowing my kids to see me singing, dancing (and sometimes forcing them to dance with me which allows me to communicate my affection for them) also suggests to them that I am approachable and can be reasoned with.  But most importantly it lets them know that I am human and available.
  5. Virtual learning has definitely been rearing its ugly head throughout this pandemic and has been by far my biggest challenge. Having one college student a.k.a “My Broke Semi Grown Child” and a middle schooler a.k.a “Snacks” has been a force to reckon with to say the least. What I have learned is not to be afraid to ask for help from school administration. After all, they are still there to help you help your child succeed. Explore parenting groups on social media for resources that can provide academic assistance and tapping into the strengths of friends and family has been helpful. I need to realize that I am not alone and that your tribe steps up or you find your tribe during times of hardship.  Also, holding my children more accountable for meeting academic task helps them to become more invested in their education. It lessens my stress a bit and gives them ownership of their destiny! After all they need to have some skin in the game!
  6. Lastly but most importantly of all: Taking care of my physical health has been a priority. Check in with your medical doctor to make sure you’re on track with annual exams. So often we are putting everyone’s health first, but we fail to make our own follow up appointments and take our daily vitamins. Being intentional about maintaining my mental health is equally as important as my physical health is. I have begun developing a few monthly goals for myself.  I realize that I have a lot of people I am responsible for and addressing my medical need is the best way to demonstrate that I care for myself and my family.  So, I know you have a lot going on but make time to love yourself!

Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about but the hardest thing in the world to do.

-Matt Walsh

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