Family Matters #13: Constructive use of time during a pandemic

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Lucia Ferrara

Parenting in the time of Covid-19 has definitely been challenging in many ways. I ask myself every day how am I going to handle today’s struggles with my son as a virtual learner?

Well, the first thing I do is PRAY! We all handle situations in different ways, and one way I do it is by praying. Others will use different ways. For example, some may want to meditate, do yoga, or use techniques like mindfulness and focusing. There’s no right or wrong way. Do what works best for you. As parents, we need to stay positive and calm to manage the situation. This time is a lot to navigate for parents. We need to interact with our children during this time of confinement.

All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.

So what can parents do? You know your child best, but one thing I would suggest is seeing if they are willing to sit down and talk. Communication is key! They hear all the negative things on social media and they get confused. Do not protect your child by being silent, but instead, talk openly and honestly about how much they understand. My motto has been lately to take things “one day at a time.”

The Search Institute, a Minnesota-based group that studies child development, has some assets in the Constructive Use of Time category that are crucial for the healthy growth of young people.

Helping young people learn to use time constructively is important now and can make a huge difference in the way kids grow up. For young children and teenagers, learning balance between school, sports, hobbies, social time and family time is definitely a life skill. Building connections with like-minded peers and adults is beneficial, this provides opportunities in communities in which your child grows and learns. This allows for a safe and supportive environment.

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During this pandemic time, my son, a sophomore in high school, is learning virtually from home, so we came up with a few activities to stay connected with people in our community. For example, he checks in on a few of our elderly neighbors to see if they need anything from the store or work done around the yard. Another activity is writing cards to family members. This is a fun way to brighten the day, and receiving a greeting card in the mail is fun, too!

These are just a few things we have done in our house. What can you and your family come up with?

Other ways to build assets for constructive use of time during a pandemic include playing and spending time with family. Putting a puzzle together or even coloring mandalas can be fun, for example.

Time alone is important too. Finding separate spaces in the house where individuals can go to read or draw alone can be beneficial for all family members. You can also suggest individuals go for a walk. Tap into your child’s creative energy and allow them to explore themselves in these areas. Offer them choices like painting pictures, learning an instrument, building something.

Helping your young one find the right mix of together time and alone time is very important, not just now, but in the future too.

I want you to know we are all in this together. All of us are experiencing so many emotions like depression, anger and boredom. These responses are normal, and it’s good to acknowledge those feelings. We need to remind ourselves to take things “one day at a time” and this too shall pass.

Look forward to what God has in store for us. God only wants what is good and righteous in our lives. I leave you now with a few tips for building and promoting constructive use of time during a pandemic.

  1. Periodically check in with your child to find out if they are happy in the activities they are engaged with. See if it is challenging enough for them, if not create new ones.
  2. Find a safe place where they can meet with friends or neighbors. For example, a park or playground outside where they can meet up to ride bikes or skate while maintaining six feet of social distancing.
  3. Make time at the end of the day for the family to come together to pray, meditate or even exercise a little bit.

Until next time!

[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to info@pbrenewalcenter.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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