Find gratitude. Connecting with gratitude is one of the surest way I know to feel better and healthier. Expressing the gratitude you have for the things you experience on a day-to-day basis helps you and your kids orient to the well being that is happening. Express gratitude out loud often! A lot of things are going right for you to be alive…food, water, clothing, bedding, family time, good books to read, or snuggle time.
Acknowledge your pain and tenderness about what's happening as it arises.
Ask for help. Find other adults to support you in holding your feelings and thoughts about everything. It’s totally normal for you to be feeling waves of fear, anxiety, helplessness, and overwhelm. You are going to be able to be with your kids in a better way if you feel held and connected. Reach out to your family, talk on the phone with people, text folks and check in, gather for dinner, have a big cry and ask people who love you for help when you need it.
Practice compassion for your kids' big feelings and challenging behavior. Your kids are feeling everything that’s happening collectively and may not be able to think about it as clearly as you. That’s a lot for them! Know that they may express their feelings in challenging ways, like extra sibling conflict, resisting boundaries etc. Do your best to have compassion and not take it personally.
Reflect safety in your body. Kids are so attuned to our body states. Remind your own body that you are safe. I think the smoke and toxins in the air are triggering fight, flight, freeze responses in our bodies. Use all the tools you have to calm your body down, and come into a relaxed state. Drink tea, stretch, take a hot shower, take a break, have the plant medicine you need, eat grounding foods. The more safety and love that you can feel in your body, the safer your child is going to feel.
Reframe from tragedy to awakening. We are living in an amazing time where it’s becoming crystal clear that were are living out of alignment with the earth. We are polluting the earth and all beings that live here (and so ourselves) at a rate we can’t even fathom. The impact of this is starting to be felt and registered at new levels. We are collectively waking up to the negative impact we are having. Brilliant people all over the world are coming together to create new cultures and technologies to live in more balances. So while its true that there is a lot of suffering, we are collectively moving forward towards more alignment. Kids are hungry for and relieved from this perspective. Joanna Macy has named this the time the Great Turning. Check out the work that reconnects for help holding a bigger perspective.
Talk simply. I have spent lots of time talking to kids about challenging things. I have found it’s always better speak simply and clearly about what’s happenings. If they want more info they can ask follow up questions. Stop yourself from over explaining things or talking for too long!
Make art. Prompt kids to express some of their feelings and ideas through art. Last week I had one of my groups paint a picture of what it feels like/would feel like when the earth and themselves are in a places of balance. The two watercolors at the bottom are from kids last week!
Move your bodies. Lots of us in the bay have been pent up in houses and buildings since the air has been not healthy for us to breath. Do your best to make space in the house for kids to move around. Move breakable things, pull back the couches. You could:
- Make obstacle course with pillows or ropes
- Have a dance party and let everyone choose one song to dance to
- Play hide and chase games
- Take turns leading exercise moves (you may need to build some of your own excited energy to get kids on board. Get your energy moving!)
- Follow some exercise videos from the internet!
- Give each other massages
Make cozy nests around the house. There is something very comforting, on a deep embodied level, to be wrapped and surrounded by softness. Energetically, people can get really scattered and ungrounded when things like this are happening. Making special pillow and blanket nests and forts is a simple way to offer bodies a contained place to rest and relax.
Drink Water. It's very relieving and will help you feel better!
Do something. Find ways to actively engage to better this situation. This can help kids (and you) feel less hopeless and scared. When things get hard there is a natural impulse to do something. Follow it!
- Make herbal tea blends for family, friends, and people impacted by smoke and fires.
- Write thank you letters to the firefighters and service workers. Send them to the stations!
- Raise money for families who have lost homes.
- Do brainstorms and action plans for ways to rebalances your personal relationship to the land (using less plastic, planting gardens, study how to tend land, etc)
With love in these times of big change <3