Lemonade Out of Lemons: Coping During COVID-19 (September 2020)
Recently I had a video chat with a former camper. Of course, my first question was, “What did you do over the summer?” The camper explained excitedly that she took up painting! She immediately picked up some canvases and displayed several accomplished paintings of her beloved cat, Lucifer. How extraordinary! This camper showed me not only her impressive artwork but also her resilient character. Through her tenacity, she pursued a new hobby and found a silver lining in the midst of the pandemic.
As adults, we all are worried about the health of our children, families, and communities. We miss socializing with friends and grocery shopping without masks, gloves, and the fear of infecting ourselves or others. Combining this overall anxiety with the daily stressors of our new reality — working from home, managing difficult financial decisions, supporting learning for children at different grade levels, and balancing childcare for younger children — can cause anyone to scream. (I know; I have done it!) Yet many people seem to be taking advantage of this slower-paced time to enjoy their families and explore new avenues. Parents have told me about their children’s recent milestones, such as learning to ride a bike, learning to play a new instrument, or hiking on new trails. Families are gardening, cooking their harvest, and eating their meals together. Competitive siblings are building puzzles and playing board games together.
Just as at Green Acres Day Camp, the adults need to teach the children how to cope when life is hard. We need to demonstrate grit! I recently read a blog from Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry that offers excellent tips for parents dealing with COVID-19. I found the most important points to be the following: take care of yourself and model coping for your children; limit access to news; normalize and validate anxiety; be active; and shift perspective so that you focus on the positive aspects of this new but temporary life. The blog also has great suggestions for nondigital and digital games to play with others; coping skills for managing anxiety; and ways to visit museums, take field trips, and experience Broadway shows virtually! So, which hobby or skill have you and your family shared or learned together over these past months? I have taken up yoga and can now hold a plank for two minutes! Please share your new adventures!
Below are some of the paintings the camper shared with me: