“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or troubled. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
When I think of what families, particularly parents, must be feeling right now, my heart aches. Most overwhelming of all is the uncertainty of not knowing what’s ahead while trying to navigate parenting in such uncharted territories. What do we say to our children who ask about school and when they will return to see their peers? How can we comfort our older children who are expressing fear?
In times of trouble, we turn to each other for support. When social distancing places hurdles between connection and bonding, how can we fill the void? When things seem impossible, I turn to the verse above. Do not be troubled. God is with us.
One of the hardest, but most important, things to do for now is to remain calm. Children will react to not only what we say and how we say things, but also to our actions, moods, and tone. It will be important to make time to talk as a family. Carve out time to pray together each day and ensure that children know that they are safe.
Be careful of what information you make available to children. Little ears have remarkable hearing! News and adult conversations can be too advanced for children to process. Instead, this is a time to rely on bedtime stories, shared family meals, coloring together, and simply taking a moment to breathe.
In the coming days, your strength as parents will be measured in more ways than you might feel prepared for. Know this: no matter what lies ahead, God is with you. You are enough to provide love, comfort, and to ensure the well-being of your children. You are their safe place.
Break down the barriers to connection by Facetiming or Skyping with loved ones. Watch interactive story times on YouTube. Have children write their friends letters, postcards, and send each other cards in the mail.
If you are at home with little ones while school is out, create a new daily schedule together. Start with a morning walk, or time for reflection. Providing consistency and routine is just as important for parents as it is for children. Take learning outdoors and count leaves, go on a nature hike and find pine cones. Experiences like these are incredible learning opportunities. Be sure to include art. It can be messy, like painting, or simply listen to music while coloring pictures.
We are all in this new world together, doing our best to make sense of it all. I pray that the burdens and anxieties are eased for all of you, and that we can all find the strength to not be troubled during these trying times.
Dr. Leanne Badham
Director of Precious Cargo Academy
Take a virtual field trip! Many places offer families the opportunity to visit through online free videos and tours. Georgia Aquarium has an Ocean Voyagers Cam, Seattle Aquarium has a 30 minute tour video, and Monterrey Bay Aquarium has a Jellyfish cam! Also, Star Atlas offers an online Planetarium, San Diego Zoo and Atlanta Zoo have lots of videos and online animal cams, and the Nature Conservancy has 11 online free virtual field trips! Even Disney offers free virtual ride videos, and behind the scenes field trips for kids!
Also, don’t forget it’s spring! The weather outside is beautiful, so go to your backyard and look for pine cones, rocks, leaves, or find sticks while walking your dog. Bring these home to make leaf rubbings, use sticks as paintbrushes, or decorate a pine cone together. You could even make a bird feeder to hang outside a window!
Dear Lord, help me to be courageous. In this time of uncertainty, may we be filled with the peace that only you can provide. I will be strong knowing that you are at my side as I walk this journey with you. Amen.