Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Helping Kids/Teens and Adults with Anxiety During Covid-19

If you haven't suffered from anxiety before, then I am sure you are feeling it now.  Anxiety is worry and I think it's safe to say we are all having some worry right now with Covid-19!  The pandemic is something we have no idea how long, how widespread or catastrophic it will be.  Which means we are uncertain of the future = anxiety.

Anxiety feeds off of UNCERTAINTY.  Any time we don't feel like we have control over something,  or feel uncertain, we worry.  And Covid is the definition of uncertainty.  We have no end in sight.

If adults are feeling it, then kids and teenagers are as well.  How do you handle it for your kids and for you?  With my training and some great advice from Lynn Lyons and others with the Association for Play Therapy, I combined it all and came up with a few tips.

How to help kids deal with anxiety during Covid-19

1)  Check in with your kids. Ask them how they are feeling, ask what they have heard about the virus, if they are afraid of getting it, etc?

2) Explain the virus in developmentally appropriate language.  That means young kids (preschool and younger) don't need to know a lot about it.  Just explain that there is a virus that is going around and we are staying home to keep the family safe.  For older kids, explain a little bit more that it is a new virus that came from China, and since it is new and unknown, we have to be safe and stay inside, practice social distancing so we don't spread or catch the germs.

3) Don't immerse yourself in the news, Twitter, stats of the virus, etc.  It's easy to become obsessed. Just a quick daily update is all you need.  We need to model as parents that even in the chaos, we don't have to be caught up in it and become more anxious.

4)  Have your children be a "Super-Hero".  Kids usually never have power, it's always an adult telling them what to do.  This is the time that kids can be powerful and their superhero job is to stay inside and protect people by washing their hands, and not spread germs to older people who aren't as strong and healthy.  You can have them draw a picture of themselves as a superhero getting rid of the virus!  My children drew pictures of themselves kicking the virus :)

5) Stick to a routine. Kids THRIVE on routines.  It helps decrease anxiety!  Children will act out less if they have limits and boundaries and know what comes next.  Make a schedule for your family and stick to it.  Have lunch around the same time too.  Keep the same bedtimes if possible as well.  Have kids get up around the same time but you can be a little flexible too.  Kids need their rest, to stay healthy as well as to decrease anxiety and meltdowns.

So if school starts at 9am, they can get out of bed at 8:30.  Have them eat breakfast, brush teeth and get dressed.  As adults we need to do the same thing.  I have my pajamas that I'd love to keep on all day, but I will change into my 'lounge clothes' like sweatpants and a t-shirt.  You can be a little more flexible too and feed them breakfast for dinner.  But also try to have them go to bed around the same time each night as if things were still the same.  Plus adults need our alone time to watch our R-rated binge shows when the kids go to bed..lol.

5) Have your kids keep a journal.  It can help ease their worries on paper.  Sometimes it's easier for kids to write than to talk to you.  And now is a good time to write about their experiences as it will be amazing to look back on in 10 years! My grandmother lived through the Spanish Flu and it's interesting to hear her talk about how her family survived it.  (She is 100!)

7) Empathize with your kids!  These feelings they have of being scared, sad, and angry can be overwhelming for them and us, but let them feel them!  Let your teens be angry with you for not letting them socialize with their friends.  We can't eliminate anxious feelings.  When we have these 'bad' feelings, allow them, accept them as normal feelings, then do something to reboot them such as going for a walk, coloring, playing with play-doh, and other moving activities, so we don't ruminate (think over and over) about them too much.

8) Have your kids and teens get connected to others!  Facetime or Zoom friends and family; play a virtual game with family such as Yahtzee, Uno, etc.

9) Give them more autonomy in the home.  Having them help out at home helps decrease anxiety.  Have them do more of their normal laundry steps, dishes, bathroom chores and help with the pets, etc.  We don't expect the house to be perfect and clean, but being home more means the house is getting used a lot and it needs to be cleaned more.

10) Get Moving!  Kids, teens and adults all need to move. Movement helps decrease anxiety.  We can use this as a Reboot- we can't get rid of anxiety, as that is not possible, but we can reboot/restart.  Go for a bike ride, get out that old exercise trampoline for indoor jumping, get a jump rope, do online exercise videos for kids and adults, drive to a park you can walk around in if you don't have a backyard.

11) For teens, they are having a hard time now not being with their friends.  Developmentally, they have a sense of immortality- they think they are okay texting and driving or drinking and driving- that it doesn't pertain to them.  Almost like the egocentric stage of toddlers.  Explain to them that this is about helping our community.  The impact is beyond them, it's for everyone.  Let them be angry with you about having to stay away from friends, that's okay.

12) Role model for our kids good coping skills!  Talk about a mild worry you have, give it a name and talk to it as a role play.  For example, tell them you are worried about not getting enough sleep and name it 'sleepyhead'.  Talk to 'sleepyhead' and tell her she needs to move over, not be the boss of me and let me get some sleep!  Show them it won't boss them around.

*Also on the role model note, try not to teach your kids and teens that alcohol is the answer, even if you say it jokingly.  We don't want them to learn that drinking alcohol is how you cope through chaos and stress.  It's okay to have your glass of wine or beer at dinner, but you don't have to talk about how it's the only thing getting you through this right now.

Also remember it's more important that our kids will remember how we bonded with them during this time at home, not how much they learned homeschooled or if they broke a rule.  Be there for them, give them extra hugs, hot chocolate and cuddling.

How to cope with anxiety as an adult and parent:

1) Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day

2) Don't become too obsessed with the news, Twitter, CNN, etc.  It can overwhelm you reading the statistics, especially before bed!  Just get a brief update in the mornings is best.

3) Make sure you have some downtime for yourself. Whether you live alone working from home, or with family and managing a household, schedule an hour out of the day to do something mindless. Read a funny novel, a magazine, adult coloring books, etc.  I try to set aside an hour in my day to go to my bedroom, shut the door and read a book/magazine or journal.

4) Do yoga every day!  It will help calm you down and ease stress.  Plan it the same time each day and stick to it.  I started doing yoga in high school and did the old school method of Hatha yoga that was super slow and more meditation style.  There are so many variations out there now, but I prefer the stretching kind that helps relax you, not power yoga.  You can find a 30 day yoga routine on You Tube, or google Hatha or Raja yoga.

5) When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, stand up and go outside for fresh air. I know this sounds easy to do, but sometimes when we get anxious, we panic and freeze up and forget the most obvious thing!  Belly breathing helps as well.  Breath in while your stomach caves out, then breath out as your stomach caves in and pushes the air out.

6) Journal.  Write down your thoughts and fears.  It helps lessen the anxiety overload in your head.

7) Socialize on Facetime or Zoom.  Even if you live in a house of 10 people, call a friend, reach out to relatives, plan a book club via Zoom, or a guys' poker game!

8) Eat Healthy!  It's so easy to stress eat and bake cookies during this time.  Believe me, I am tempted every day to bake chocolate chip cookies.  But unhealthy foods make us feel worse.  Research shows how our moods are affected by what we eat.  I know it's hard to find food out there during this crises, but try to stick to healthy fruits and veggies.  When I need a snack I try to go for a clementine orange or a handful of nuts.  Or a piece of dark chocolate :)

9) Minimize alcohol.  It can increase anxiety and trigger panic attacks.

10) Remember you can't control what is going on. Accept the anxiety as something you can't get rid of and then as we do with kids, reboot it.  Tell yourself it's okay to feel anxious, then start to move and go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, or yoga, etc.

I wish there was some magic potion or words to help it all go away.  As we know with history, this will pass, it just will take some time!  Embrace the slowness we have going on right now.  Embrace the not rushing from activity to activity.  And embrace the ones we love!

Anyone have any words of wisdom?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

BInge Worthy TV Shows during Coronavirus-19 2020

I think the most popular non-virus related Social Media posts have been, "What TV shows are you watching??"  Everyone is needing some new (and old) shows to watch while being stuck inside!  I know we all have different tastes, but here are a few good ones most people say are worth the watch! (Side note, sigh, for our home we usually have to wait until the kids go to bed since most are MA, or R-Rated. Unless I can sneak off to my bedroom during 'rest time'!)

1) Morning Show: Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon star in a show loosely based on the Matt Lauer scandal on the Today Show.  It's a really good series!  If you don't have Apple TV,  if you've bought any Apple product in the past year and redeem within 90 days, you can have it for free or pay 5$ a month.

2) Making It  on NBC.  Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman is a show about a competition series reuniting two of pop culture's biggest BFF's and celebrating reativity and craftiness.  

3) At Home with Amy Sedaris on Tru Tv (on cable, YouTube TV, etc).  It's a 30 minute sitcom  based on comedian Amy Sedaris as it focus' on her housewife and crafting skills.

4) The Stranger on Netflix.  I've heard great things about this show, and can't wait to watch it! It's about a family mystery surrounding a husband and a shocking revelation about his wife!

5) I Am Not Okay with This on Netflix, I haven't had a chance to watch this one, but here's the description: Angsty Syd navigates high school awkwardness, family drama and an unrequited crush on her best friend while trying to rein in her budding superpowers.

6) Pharmacist on Netflix.  I haven't watched this one yet but it's about a Louisiana pharmacist who exposes a corruption behind the opioid addiction crisis after his son passes away. 

7) Cheer on Netflix.  A documentary of 6 episodes on the Navarro Junior College Cheer Squad. Based in a small town in Texas, it follows a cheer team as they prepare for the National Competition.  I love all of the characters on the show, and all of the drama!

8) Schitt's Creek (It's an old one, but so worth getting into!) Netflix. Starring Eugene Levy, Catherine O' Hara and Eugene's son and is hilarious! It's a 30 minute sitcom, so it's perfect when you don't have a full hour to watch a show.

9) Tiger King on Netflix.  This is a crazy docuseries about a big cat zoo owner who apparently spirals out of control on a murder-for-hire story.  It's definitely a crazy story! Worth the train wreck.  On a side note,  I once took my kids to an Exotic Cat farm out in the country, when my youngest was obsessed with tigers and lions.  It was quite an experience (and I missed getting sprayed at by inches by a tiger)!  But this farm was dedicated to helping rehabilitate big cats who were owned by US home owners and had been abused :(

10) Modern Love on Amazon Prime.  30 minute episodes on love starring some pretty big name actors like Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, etc.  Some are funny and some are actually a little sad.

11) Fleabag on Amazon Prime is a comedy, about a single dry-witted single girl living in London, written and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  I haven't seen it yet but it's' on my list!

12) Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime.  I've seen the first 2 seasons and can't wait to catch up on the 3rd. It's about a divorced Jewish woman living in the 1950's living in NYC, as she discovers her new talent as a comedian!  Hilarious and well written and acted, no wonder it's won several Emmy's.

13) Working Moms on Netflix is a comedy series about 4 working moms and life after having kids!

14) Love is Blind on Netflix. A Bachelor type dating show but more real life and not scripted. I haven't seen this one either but I'm adding it to my list!

Okay let the TV watching begin!  Are there any new shows out there I'm missing?? 
Monday, March 23, 2020

Online Resources and Activities for Kids during Coronavirus-19

Okay, so it's day 1 for us new homeschoolers, back from our so-called 'Spring Break', whew!  Last week was something out of a science fiction novel, but we survived and I am staying positive, trying to enjoy the stress-free week of not running around to school, activities and the 'hurrying' that we do on a daily basis!  I've found a few fun online sites to help us all navigate the coming weeks we are all out of school!

Also, scroll down to the bottom and you will see a great schedule a homeschool mom posted on Facebook, makes it feel a lot better at this homeschool thing....

Storytime:  A few ideas for kids to listen to stories online

1) Josh Gad (Olaf) reading storybooks to kids on Twitter here

2) Brightly Storytime is reading books to children on You Tube here

3) Audible is having free access to books so kids to listen to stores, click here!

Art Lessons: These are all great art activities for kids of all ages

1) Mo Willems (author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Piggie and Gerald stories) does doodling lessons here:

2) Children's Author and Illustrator has drawing classes here: (For older kids)

3) McHarper Manor has art lessons daily on YouTube here from watercolors, painting a sloth and clay/play-doh

4) How to draw cartoons with How to Toon here

5) Boca Raton Museum of Art has some amazing art lessons you can download here

6) You can tour the MET of New York on a virtual tour here

7) The Art Institute of Chicago (Bueller anyone?) has a lot of paintings you can visit online here!

8) Raising Wonder is offering daily art activities. Last week she did one on building a town and art lessons for drawing people, buildings, planets, etc. and this week she is making puppets!

Music and Lessons:

1) Music classes with Jam with Jamie here

2) Union Square is offering music videos for young children and lessons as well here

3) Broadway is showing 15 musicals for free here from Cats, Peter Pan and Newsies!


1)  Scholastic Books is offering a lot of at home learning resources and videos grouped by grade level here and they have some really cool ones put together!

2) This one is a little overwhelming as there is A LOT of resources listed, but a great thorough list!
This You Tube page has a list of resources for different ages, all put together here for the CVirus-19

3) Tinkergarten is offering free DIY crafts and activities here.  You have to sign up with your email address first.

4) Crash Course has a lot of videos on STEM and History lessons here

5) Want a virtual tour of National Parks?  Click here for an amazing view

1) Can't get to Disney World, click in the post of virtual rides your kids can watch and pretend they are really on them here

2) Amazon Prime is offering free streaming of kids videos here

Any other great resources, feel free to share!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Kids Podcasts

With all of us trying to find new things to entertain our kids with besides TV, podcasts are a great way to fill the time.  Here are a few fun ones they can listen to on an iPad, your computer, phone and on Alexa!

1) Wow In the World Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz guide curious kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the wonders of the world around them. They go inside  brains, out into space and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology.

2) Stories Podcast: They perform a new story every week, drawing from a variety of sources and a variety of styles. There are retellings of classics like Snow White, some folktales, and myths from around the world, as well as original stories. Episodes range from 10 to 20 minutes, with most on the longer side. Everything here is G-rated and safe for all ages.

3) Story Pirates:  We love listening to this one where original stories from kids are sent in and re-done with music and fun voices! This is where the song, "All 8 Unicorns" came from :)

4) Planet Storytime:  Planet Storytime is a wonderful storytelling, audio podcast that helps our children go inside their minds and into their imagination.  It offers classic stories and other quirky less-known ones that will really entertain your kids!

5) Smash Boom Best Smash Boom Best is a debate show for kids and families from the makers of the award-winning podcast, Brains On! Every episode takes two cool things, smashes them together and lets you decide which is best. Cats versus Dogs. Pizza versus Tacos. Super Speed versus Super Strength. Who will be crowned the Smash Boom Best?

So there you have it, our faves to listen to.  It used to be more of something we listened to in the car on the way to school or after-school activities, but now they are enjoying them at home!
Friday, March 20, 2020

At Home In-Door Activities/Classes for Kids and Grown-Ups

Being stuck inside can feel like cabin fever! Not to mention kids going crazy since they need that recess time they are missing out on.  And adults too, all the baking and stress-eating!

If it's raining and the kids can't get outside, or you are missing your gym/pilates/yoga studio time.  Here are a few resources I found to help:


1) Indoor trampoline: My kids love jumping on this!  It helps get the wiggles out and good exercise (for grown-ups too).

2) Jump rope:  These are great for kids to get energy out and fun! 

3) Cosmic Yoga: We've been watching her for a few years now and love her funny animations.

4) PE Classes: If you search on You Tube there are a bunch of PE exercise videos for kids like this one, and also on Amazon. Also, ContiFIT  : They are starting 30 minute LIVE PE

5) Yoga for kids with Adriene. She mostly does adults but does a few children ones.. We watch the bedtime one before bed, and is really calming.


1) Yoga with Adriene.  I love her yoga segments. She has a ton to chose from on You Tube and right now has a 30 day option (and lots of others)  here

2) Heather Robertson has a great free You Tube channel with a ton of workout videos, mostly HIIT style with weights or without. Click here

3) Core Power Yoga is offering free On-Demand classes at home here

4) Orange Theory is also offering free classes here

5) Dance your thing? This NYC studio, Dance 305 Fitness, is offering fun hip hop style dance cardio classes here on You Tube.

Hope this list helps us all get through the next few weeks.  Let me know if you have any other links or suggestions in the comments.
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Helping Kids with the Coronavirus COVID-19 and Video

I have been thinking about blogging again for a few years, but each time I do, it's 10:30pm at night and I have to get to bed.  It was way easier for me to blog back in the days when my kids had fewer after-school activities and went to bed at 7pm! Now, some of our activities don't even end until 7pm.

But with the recent events, and hearing so many kids suffering and feeling anxious about COVID-19 and then with the schools closing, I felt it was time to help parents and kids navigate this- and hopefully we can all help each other out. 

I wish I had all the answers, but as you know, with anxiety, it is all about the uncertainty.  Anxiety feeds off the unknown.  And with the unknown of this pandemic, most people who don't usually have anxiety are having it.  Kids are feeling it and it's up to us as parents to help them navigate it.

Here are a few things that have helped:

1) I ran across a video a therapist, Natasha Daniels, created to help explain the virus to kids. I had my kids watch it (on youtube kids), and it helped them understand what it is and how to navigate it. 

2) Keep the news off.  I have been reading my news on my phone/laptop, the actual newspaper (it's only 11$ a month for every day of the week), and when the kids go to bed at night.  News only fuels their anxiety.

3) Social Distance. That means no play dates.  It's not a snow day people! When the virus spreads, it not only makes more people sick, it causes more cases which means not going back to school or work for a longer time, and a poor economy. 

4) Get outdoor time if possible. Throw around a ball, run around, ride scooters, bikes, etc. It helps decrease anxiety.

5) It's ok for a little screen time.  In times like these, I say go for it.  When we watch movies or tv shows as a family, I forget what's going on in the real world and it 's a huge distraction.  Mine are affected by blue screens though, so we try to make sure the tv's are off an hour before bedtime.

Tomorrow I will post a few activities that have helped my kids get through the day!  Anyone have good tips?