Specially tailored content for parents to help navigate the unique challenges of caring for your children during COVID-19.
‘Making Rain’ Activity for Kids
This simple activity with a few household items is great for young children and easy to play inside or in your backyard. Family Life Education Associate Sarah Waxman, MSS, LCSW, takes you through the steps and the fun she had playing this game with her own son.
Supporting Your Child Living With Disabilities
Lisa Ney, Director of Programs and Services for Persons Living with Disabilities, offers practical advice for parents on how to help their children of all ages living with emotional, behavioral, and cognitive differences navigate these uncertain times.
Write Your Own Story
Children’s book author and educator Hallee Adelman shares tips on developing a story idea and getting started writing your own book, as well as her own journey to writing her first children’s book.
Conversations on Important Topics
Helping Parents and Children
Learn ways to help your child manage anxious feelings. Topics include navigating anxiety and overwhelming stress, how to foster resilience in your family, coping skills and strategies and managing worry, fear, and anxious feelings.
This is a particularly stressful time for young people as they adjust to the new realities of remote school work, their social outlets being limited, and the barrage of frightening news coming their way.
Supporting Persons with Disabilities
A conversation for persons with disabilities and caregivers of children or adults with disabilities. Topics include how physical distancing affects individuals with disabilities, creating opportunities for learning or social engagement, and more.
Maternal Mental Health
A conversation about maternal mental health and their current challenges. Topics include how to manage feeling overextended and overwhelmed, unique experiences of pregnant mothers or mothers with newborns, talking to your kids about the pandemic, and how to help your kids manage remote schooling.
Preventing Substance Misuse
A conversation about drug and alcohol use in young people, how the stressors of the pandemic may cause increased substance misuse, and tools to support individuals struggling during these times. Topics include trends in substance use, warning signs, strategies, and healthy coping skills for children and teens.
Suicide Prevention and Awareness
A conversation about suicide prevention and awareness in adults and young people and how the stressors of the COVID-19 crisis can cause emotional distress or anxiety which lead to suicidal thoughts. Covers how the pandemic can exacerbate existing mental health diagnoses, risk factors and warning signs for suicide, how to talk about suicide with a friend or loved one, and helpful resources.
A conversation to create deeper understanding around trauma, its effects on individuals and communities, and being trauma-informed. Topics include definding trauma, meaning of being it mean to be trauma-informed, talking to young people about trauma, and understanding compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and secondary traumatic stress.
Pandemic Parenting- Some Practical Tips
Written by Leah Sorokorensky, CRNP, JFCS Nurse Practitioner
Parents and caregivers have been put between a rock and hard place when it comes to childcare. COVID- 19 has created a difficult situation for everyone but some would argue that parents and caregivers have to face some extra challenges. Working, parenting, and keeping up with housework. “Who can do all of these things full time?” “It’s impossible!”
Some parents are now working from home, and some may need to leave the house for essential jobs. Some have had no choice but to utilize grandparents, babysitters, essential daycares. All things that might have made them uncomfortable with stay at home orders in place. Some parents have created (non-ideal) schedules with their spouses to manage children. Some are working night shift, and just not getting sleep during the day. Some are forced to leave older kids home alone when they normally wouldn’t. Some single parents haven’t had a break.
Currently, with stay at home orders lifted, parents now face a different choice. Some camps and daycares are now open. Test the waters? Or watch and wait? Some are choosing to keep their kids home amid fears of a continued threat, despite their desperate need for assistance with childcare.
Let us take a moment to acknowledge and salute you, the parents. You are doing mission impossible. Something no one would have ever expected any human to juggle “pre-COVID”. Not only are you managing all of these stressors at work, you are also parenting full time. Mother’s day and Father’s day just doesn’t seem to do justice this year.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably waiting for my advice on how to juggle this all like a pro. Sorry to disappoint you folks, but you will not find an answer here. Because it is IMPOSSIBLE. Let that sink in. No human should be expected to do all of these things simultaneously. I’m here to tell you it’s all ok. Housework and family life may not be perfect. Forget Pinterest. Forget perfection. We are talking survival here. So I’d like to offer some tips on how to make things a bit less stressful and create routines that work better for your family.
Organizing helps. Constant decision making is stressful and exhausting. Planning things in advance help take the stress out of routine decisions.
Meal prep/meal plan- Taking 10 to 20 minutes once a week to inventory and plan what will be served will help decision fatigue. I will include some of my favorite time saving recipes/ideas at the end.
Schedules- Creating a routine is important for parents and children to have a sense of stability and consistency in their life. Creating a detailed schedule down to the minute did not work for my family, in fact it flew out the window pretty fast. Depending on your kids’ ages and personalities, you may have to find a schedule that works for you and allow some flexibility. Now that school is out it is even more difficult to find ways for kids to be entertained. Allow children to choose from a pool of pre-decided activities to take the stress out of decision making.
Give kids responsibilities: Depending on the child’s age, they can be given different chores and responsibilities around the house. The upside is that children will be learning valuable life skills. They can help manage laundry, dishes. Older children can help occupy younger children.
Most importantly give yourself grace. You are not superhuman or a robot. This is not a normal situation. Drop the guilt. At the end of the day, choose quality over quantity when it comes to spending time with your children. Studies have shown links between quality time and positive outcomes. Set aside at least 10 minutes of one on one time with each kid if possible.
Save your sanity. Life will one day get back to normal, your kids will get into great colleges despite zooming through 2020, and this too shall pass. Your family needs you to have your mental health intact. Reach out to JFCS if you feel you need some support.
****My Favorite “healthy” meal prep ideas- Breakfast- grab ‘n’ go oat muffins (see recipe), egg muffins. Snacks- cheese sticks, yogurts, applesauce, bananas. Lunch and Dinner – tacos, lasagna, salmon and rice, eggs, frozen veggies. And hey, frozen chicken nuggets and cereal for dinner are great options too!
Grab ‘n’ go oat muffins
(This is my favorite recipe because it’s a one bowl dump and go. I don’t usually measure ingredients, but I did my best to estimate. It’s most important to eyeball for consistency. You can add wet or dry ingredients as necessary to get the right consistency which should be a thick, sticky, oatmeal consistency. I make these on Sunday mornings. It yields 18 muffins which last about a week in my family but can last up to two weeks in the fridge. Can be frozen too!)
- 3 bananas mashed
- 4 cups of rolled oats
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1-2 cups of applesauce
- 2 cups plant based milk
½ cup Almond flour
- 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseed
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon
- Oil spray
- Chocolate chips (optional, but without this I don’t think my kids would love it as much)
- Almonds or nut or seed of your choice (optional)
Mash bananas first in a large mixing bowl. Then add the oats, almond flour, apple sauce, flaxseed, cinnamon, and milk and mix together. Add additional wet or dry ingredients to achieve a thick oatmeal consistency. Then mix in blueberries, chocolate chips and any other nut or fruit you fancy. Spray muffin pan or liners with oil spray to prevent sticking. Muffins will not rise so feel free to fill them high. Bake at 350 for about 30 – 35 mins, until firm but watch for burning. Keep in fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze. My kids love them. Enjoy!
Building Empathy in Our Children
Written by Paula Goldstein, President and CEO
The past week has been agonizing for Americans. After bearing witness to the tragic killing of George Floyd, and evoking a sense of anger and outrage, our country is not where it should be in terms of racial division and equality. Peaceful protests and demonstrations nationwide followed, exercising our freedom of speech, and characterizing one of the privileges of being an American citizen. While the majority of protesters expressed their understandable anger and despair in a peaceful manner, others chose destruction and theft, leaving parts of our cities destroyed and George Floyd’s family and many civic, religious and community leaders saying this is not the way to achieve justice, and not what George Floyd would have wanted.Read More
Our children have been watching or experiencing the narrative of racism, social inequality, injustice, and personal safety unfold, and as if parents did not feel enough anxiety already, they are now searching for ways to talk to their children about these recent events. How do parents create a safe space for discussions about race, privilege, and injustice with the goal of educating our kids, helping them reflect on their world and cultivate empathy for others, and embrace anti-racist values, standing up to hate?
I remember when my kids were growing up, our most significant conversations took place in the car when I was driving, and they were in the backseat and did not have to make eye contact with me. Now in the pandemic, families are with each other 24/7 with little personal space and a lot of stress. Having these conversations now is critical and finding the optimal location and time is a challenge indeed.
If parents were to think of moments like the ones over the past week, when people are scared, confused, uncomfortable, and angry, as opportunities for tremendous growth and learning then perhaps the intense feelings of despair and anxiety can be redirected towards self-reflection, awareness, and change for both the adult and the child.
To begin conversations with kids it is imperative to know yourself and your own feelings about some big topics. Self-Awareness is a must! What are the values that you live by, how you do you feel about your own ethnicity and heritage, and how does your own life experience inform your beliefs about social justice, social action, inequality, discrimination, diversity, and inclusion? If you have a partner or spouse, talking to each other about your feelings and creating a loving and encouraging space where these difficult conversations can take place and will benefit children in the long run. Engendering a comfort level between partners enables healthy discussion with kids where self-expression is honored.
Finding the appropriate language by which you express your values and beliefs based on kids’ ages and developmental stages can help to engage your children in meaningful conversations. Looking for cues that they bring forth to start a discussion will also show your ability to be responsive when they want to talk. When you are asked questions about events such as last week’s, respond thoughtfully and honestly. Use “I” messages in explaining your feelings, like “I feel sad that George Floyd died;” “I feel like it is not fair;” “I know some very caring police;” or “I feel like people should be free to express themselves peacefully.”
You can also frame a conversation about protests in front of the White House, or at the Philadelphia Art Museum as an important way to express oneself when a person doesn’t agree with something that has happened or the way that someone has behaved. When talking with teenagers it may be more appropriate to hear what they think and why, as opposed to finding opportunities to share your own views. Asking questions about their ideas or what they think is needed (even if it isn’t well thought-out) might get them thinking and open the door for future conversations. No one needs to have all the answers—everyone just needs to care.
The relationship between the parent and child is key for discussions that tap into kids’ sense of belonging, safety, and responsibility for themselves and others. If the parent is overly anxious and stressed, kids most likely will be too. If the parent can listen and acknowledge all feelings, more and more discussion will naturally occur.
It seems that all roads in talking to kids about the unrest in our country lead to the cultivation of empathy and this is something that a parent must first model themselves. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We want our children to experience deep empathy in times like these so that they evolve and lead the next generation with a sense of hope, compassion, and responsibility. Now is the time. Developing empathy in children is the most hopeful way to cope with the cruelty and chaos our country is now experiencing, with the goal of changing the future.
Information and Resources
21 Anti-Racism Videos To Share With Kids
We Are Teachers
Talking to Kids About Racism, Early and Often
The New York Times
Beyond the Golden Rule
Talking to Kids About Racism
Parenting in a Pandemic
A Conversation with Dr. Alan Kazdin at Yale University
The Postpartum Stress Center
A great resource and also offers support groups
CNN/Sesame Street Coronavirus Town Hall
Dr. Leana Wen answers questions from children all over the world about what the coronavirus is and how they can stay safe.
CNN/Sesame Street Racism Town Hall
CNN’s Van Jones and Erica Hill partner with “Sesame Street” for Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism, a town hall for kids and families.
For support during this time, please call our Care Navigation line at 866.JFCS.NOW (866.532.7669)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 800.273.8255.
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