Dear Dr. Debbie,
Is it just me or does it seem everyone is on edge? To say there’s a lot on my mind is an understatement.
Coronavirus cases are increasing across the country. My work-from-home job is asking when I can come back into the office. The national election may or may not result in a clear decision, sooner or later, or who knows when. In two weeks my second grader may or may not return to the classroom, but not every day, or maybe schools will be shuttered again.
And an asteroid is on its way to Earth.
So what do I tell the family about plans for Thanksgiving?
Turkey No Turkey
Yes, it’s a lot. And yes, many of us are on edge. Here are suggestions for getting through it all.
There are reliable sources for information about the spread of the novel coronavirus, the unfolding long term effects of the virus, and the chances of re-infection if someone has already had the virus (rare but possible). The more you know, the easier it is to make those day-to-day as well as more far-reaching decisions.
Decision making is hard for choices that will affect your family, such as a job change, but even harder for a whole school system. Options from Anne Arundel County Public Schools have been presented to families for elementary students to return for two consecutive days of the week (“hybrid option”), or to remain at home with e-learning through the end of January, or to remain at home for the duration of the school year. According to the AACPS website, middle school and high school students will be asked to register for their choices after things get settled with the younger students. Of course by then, if the pandemic emergency continues on its present course of carnage, the state, or parts of it, may be ordered to stay-at-home.
A little national news each day will keep you up-to-date on this dramatic election as it continues to unfold. You can check in with the United States Election Project for state by state stats on early voting, and if the counting of mailed in ballots drags on, in the days after the election. As a gentle reminder, final results are rarely in by the end of the news day on Election Day even in less contentious times.
According to astrophysicist and convivial talk show guest Neil deGrasse Tyson, a refrigerator sized asteroid is indeed expected to bump into Earth’s atmosphere on November 2 (yesterday, when you read this!). Dr. Tyson assures us that this is more of an interesting phenomenon than a danger. Maybe you and your second grader can use the event as an invitation to dig into bigger explorations of the solar system?
Take a Break
Family fun is a good antidote for stressful times. Respecting the need to be Socially Distant from others not living with you, what can your family do to be creative, adventurous, carefree, or just at peace? A second grader would be a good person to ask for ideas. Have you colored rainbows together lately?
It’s always easier to endure difficult times when you have someone with whom you can lay bare your emotions. You can pay a mental health counselor for this, or follow the suggestion from Mental Health America to find “someone who loves you and genuinely cares about your wellbeing. Those are the people that are already in your corner, no matter what.”
Make it a mutual support session by asking, “What’s taking up most of your headspace right now?” and “What’s something you can do today that would be good for you?” Then share your own responses to the questions.
Prepare for Possibilities
We may have gotten used to some things, such as wearing masks in public, video conferencing and e-learning from home, and hearing tropical storms and hurricanes named for letters of the Greek alphabet because the number of storms has exceeded the list of 21 names planned for this year.
Remember last March?
It seemed impossible that Easter and Passover would have to be managed very differently than we were used to. But somehow we did it. Since then, birthdays, weddings, and other milestone events, as well as the everyday tasks of work, school, and grocery shopping, have been altered to the dictates of the ongoing health emergency.
With interstate travel already restricted in some areas of the country, families might as well start planning alternative scenarios for upcoming holiday observances.
Just think, if the pandemic goes past March, planning for families to not-get-together will be a breeze!
Deborah Wood, Ph.D. is a child development specialist and founding director of Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Read more of her Good Parenting columns by clicking here.
Stay-at-home events for the NEA Big Read Anne Arundel County continue with Book Lovers Day on Saturday, November 7 at 10 am, and a virtual presentation of the Native American tradition of the Jingle Dance on Sunday, November 8 at 1 pm. Register in advance to get the Zoom link for these free events: 410-990-1993 or by email [email protected].