Helping Children Cope with the New NOT Normal

Disclaimer: This is written as general advice and is not for those who are under either state-imposed or health-imposed self-quarantine. Also, I realize work responsibilities differ for each of us and these recommendations may not be feasible for everyone. I will not be one of those who refers to this time as “the new normal”, because it is not “normal”. We absolutely can and must adapt, but calling it normal infers that life will always be this way (ie: schools will always be online, there will be no dine-in restaurants, hundreds of stores will be closed, and even beaches & some local parks in areas will be forever closed)…again, this is not the forever case, so this is NOT the new normal. It is instead a currently evolving situation that requires us to be resilient and adapt.

There is so much discussion, some in jest and some honest, surrounding children not in school while parents are trying to work and children are supposed to suddenly learn completely on their own (or by someone who is not fully-trained in educational instruction methodologies). During this time it can be easy to ‘push the children to the side with a tablet’ while we try to accomplish our work responsibilities. However, these little humans are used to constant interaction and engaging activities.

My few suggestions directly for these littles, without trying to overwhelm you, and in hopes of maintaining as much consistency in their little lives as possible are: 1. Stick to the same morning schedule: Have them get up, eat breakfast, and do their normal routine. On that same note, stick to a similar evening routine & bedtime. Little ones thrive on routine. 2. Create a plan/ schedule: Having a detailed plan provides expectations. Ideally be sure to incorporate physical activity breaks at least every 2 hours. Giving children (and even adults) physical activity breaks will help increase productivity & focus. These 10 minute breaks not only allow time to connect with the kiddo so they do not feel completely isolated, but also benefit overall health. 3. Get creative with the day: When developing the daily routine and even during learning activities, find creative ways to accomplish the tasks. Maybe it’s parents working outside during active play or even taking the kiddo’s lessons outside, double-duty activities like learning math through cooking, or even letting them select the order of activities for each day.

A few tips for parents will come in a later post, but most importantly, give yourself GRACE! Again, this is not normal, so accept that and do the best you can! Sometimes part of the day will look like this pic.Screenshot_20200323-151745_Instagram

North Carolina just announced that schools will remain closed for at least 8 mores weeks (May 15th). With that being said, this quote is quite applicable: “It’s not about the card you are dealt, just how you play the hand.” – Randy Pausch

Coronavirus Resources

Yesterday when I pulled up to the park for my normal lunch run, there were 16 cars in the lot. Most days there are 3-5 cars there at lunch time. During my short run I saw 3 groups playing doubles tennis, a couple of high school aged kids swinging on the swings, a dad & daughter exploring the creek, and a dad out on his bike with a toddler in a bike carrier and his school-aged kiddo riding along beside him. These scenes made me contemplate the status of current events and the effect this pandemic may have on the current generation. First, I was happy to see people outside being active and not completely isolating themselves. I am a proponent of following the CDC recommendation of social distancing, but for healthy individuals this does not mean isolating. Social distancing is an actual epidemiological term and has a scientific formula: R=[1-(1a²)f]R0. Based on that formula, if 25% of people reduced their contact with others by 50% of their normal level, that would result in an effective reproduction of 81% of the basic reproduction number which would exponentially slow the spread of disease (and “flatten the curve”). Not only is physical activity important for overall well-being, from mitigating chronic conditions to improving mental health through the release of endorphins, it is also proven to help boost immunity. The second reflection from these sights was we are currently living in a time of uncertainty and everything is not “normal”. So if you are in a flexible position that allows you to work remotel20200318_135047y or your company has shuttered their doors (and hopefully still paying their employees), take time to experience a different kind of life with your family. That may mean getting up earlier or working later in the night, but this is time we will not get back. Plus our children are used to continuous interaction throughout the day; suddenly taking that away from them can also be detrimental. And yes, I know most children have been given packets of school work, but learning can happen in many different environments. I also realize there are plenty of individuals who must report to work and are just trying to make it through this chaotic time. I see you and hope those in your community step-up to help.

With that being said, here are few resources for you to look into today to see if they can benefit you during this time of unknown. Today’s focus is directly on free apps. I chose not to list a whole bunch of apps on one post, because the truth is, that is overwhelming and the last thing we all need is one more thing to overwhelm us. While there are seven dimensions of wellness, each day, I will select only two dimensions (again, not to create overwhelm). Today is focused on physical & emotional wellness.

Physical Wellness: Peloton is offering 90 days free membership. You do not have to have a bike or treadmill as they have both strength workouts and yoga sessions. Emotional Wellness: Headspace is offering their meditation tools for free.

 

Coronavirus – When the World is Cancelling How Do We Respond

There is so much unknown and as a very go-go-go, Type-A person who lives by my color-coded Google calendar, this is challenging, in a number of ways. If I had a definitive date of when everything would “go back to normal”, this would be easier to process, because I am a planner. Once I had my little boy, I became a little more go-with-the-flow, but not much. I try to live in the moment and enjoy each day, but I like to know what that day looks like and even more so how tomorrow, next week, and even next month will go. I am not a fan of unknown. In part I am trying to maintain as much “normalcy” as possible (same workouts, same healthy meals), but there is not much normal. There is no school, people are isolating themselves, the death rate is climbing, the economy is tanking, and on a personal level most of Breck’s activities are closed, there are no races, even the zoo is closed! We are blessed to have plenty of food, both of us have jobs (along with us both having positions that somewhat allow us to work remotely, even if our employers are not embracing telework), and even have a full gym at home along with treadmill, trainers, and rower.
But I have also noticed so much kindness and creativity. Small businesses are finding creative solutions to provide activities/ services to families while still also trying make a little revenue to save themselves. From the art studio offering at home painting kits or pottery to paint & bring back to be fired, the restaurants who have created family-size take & bake casseroles or are keeping their servers employed by using them to deliver their regular menu items directly to homes, the local sports league posting at-home activities for the kiddos, and more. Seeing businesses (the list keeps growing by the day) who are closing their retail locations but paying their hourly employees while the store’s doors are closed, seeing educational companies offer free subscriptions as well as Zoom owner offering that platform for all educators to use to continue distance education. There are those who are paying individuals who would have worked for the number of upcoming sporting events but would now otherwise be looking at no income with all of the cancellations. There are also those in the community, from restaurants to single individuals, who are offering to provide free food for those in need, there are high school students who have created a resource for free babysitting for employees who must be at work. ..5b196c9f1a0000c704ce0e1dMoving forward, as a health & wellness professional, my goal is to share a daily tip or resource related to one of seven pillars of wellness.

2020 Goals

Now that we are one full week into the New Year, taking a moment to share my goals for 2020. Not included on this list is our goals related to RYP Performance, as Braden & I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss that yet. Currently we are just utilizing RYP to showcase our family’s training, racing & sports and acknowledge our sponsors. While I want to continue our typical healthy habits and build on our family traditions, here are a few new things I want to tackle this year!

Athletic:

  • Run Boston Marathon
  • Place top 3 AG in USA Duathlon Championships (Qualify for World Champs)
  • Half Marathon PR (not concrete focus)
  • Sub-19 5K
  • Think “Food is Fuel”

Personal:

  • Create 1 new recipe per month
  • Read 6 books
  • Utilize cash-back rewards app
  • Limit nightly sugar/ dessert to 3x/ week
  • Stay calm & happy during stress

Family:

  • Eat 1 family meal per week
  • Take a date night every other month
  • Take 1-2 family vacations (non-sport related)
  • Consistent, structured, firm but positive discipline
  • Begin age allowance with investment
  • Utilize Breck’s responsibility chart weekly

Home:

  • Organize & de-clutter attic
  • Organize & track spending
  • Complete 2 major home projects

A Decade In Review

The short version (less than 800 words) of this past decade…

2010 started with us living in a small town in Louisiana and both of us coaching at Northwestern State University. In May 2010 we both finished the last requirements for our Master’s Degree and moved to Auburn, AL for Braden to start his PhD at Auburn University. During our three years in Auburn, I worked multiple jobs (Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Server, & Recruiter for Non-Profit), wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper, got all my wisdom teeth taken out, had surgery for my torn meniscus, ran three half-marathons, three 10Ks and a handful of 5Ks. Braden’s primary focus while in Auburn was his commitment to getting his doctorate degree and research within the Sports Biomechanics Lab. We did lots of trail runs together, lifted semi-regularly, and occasionally played tennis. We also lost Star (Braden’s black lab he got as a teenager) and added Ibis (the pup we found while trail running). In August 2013 we moved to Ruston, LA as Braden accepted his first professor position at Louisiana Tech University. I also quickly landed the job as Wellness Coordinator for Vantage Health Plan/ Affinity Health Group, which afforded me immense opportunities to grow professionally including opening a Health Management Center and even a monthly segment on the local TV news. We spent the first few months after the move completely renovating our house (#ProjectRustonRenovation). We kicked off 2014 with regularly swimming and mountain biking and spent lots of time trail running together, as we did our first Xterra Triathlon in May 2014 and our first Ultra Marathon (Rock Creek Stump Jump in Chattanooga, TN) in October 2014. In April 2015 I got pregnant with our first kiddo and Braden started getting back into riding BMX (oh the irony…). The summer of 2015 (despite the constant puking from pregnancy) we headed to Europe for a 3-week road trip (yes, we drove all around Europe!) visiting as many places as we could squeeze in. In December 2015 we welcomed our little boy Breck into the world. Early 2016 Braden started racing BMX before breaking his collarbone in April, while I built back up to half-marathon running-shape. April 2016, Braden accepted a position as a professor at High Point University and in May 2016 we sold our house in Louisiana and quickly moved into temporary housing at a cabin in Sevierville, TN (outside of Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge area) until we bought our house in North Carolina in August 2016. I stayed with Vantage Health Plan as a remote position until September and then spent a few months at home with our little boy, exploring our new area in Greensboro, NC. I took a short term-position (5 month) in Sales until I started as Wellness Coordinator for Old Dominion Freight Line in May 2017. In August 2018, Breck started pre-school at High Point Friends School. During the last 3 years, 4 months in Greensboro, Braden and I have each focused separately on our individual sports… I have set PRs in every distance, run 2 full marathons (earning BQ standard both times), 1 half marathon, 2 10Ks, countless 5Ks, and took up duathlon training while Braden has raced & placed in too many BMX races to keep track of and set insane PRs in the weight room. Breck started ISR swim lessons at 9 months old and has continued with weekly swim lessons, he started weekly gymnastics/ tumbling classes at 1 years old, he started racing his strider bike before he was 2 years old and moved to racing his pedal bike at 3 years old, and he started soccer at 2 years old and has played each season since. As a family of three, we have traveled as far north as Michigan, as far west as Oklahoma, and as far south as Florida.

When the last decade started, I knew Braden would be heading to Auburn to get his PhD….but the journey after that was unknown. It has been a journey (lived in 5 places, visited 5 countries & 29 states) filled with adventure and many more ups than downs over the past 10 years. When I think about the end of the next decade, I really don’t know what it will look like….but I know we will have a 14 year old who will be looking at starting high school and I hope we will have spent those 10 years loving each other and making memories that will last a lifetime!

Decade

 

Here’s to the next decade!