Bouncing Back from Pandemic Meltdowns
We held an exciting Webinar with Trova Health about managing our emotions as parents.
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the structure and stability in our daily lives can disappear at a moment’s notice. A difficult time for parents, adapting schedules and managing inevitable meltdowns as their child is sent home from day-care for the 4th week in a row. We all have a limit and grown-ups are certainly not exempt from tantrums at times like this.
Luckily, Springtime, wherever you are, gives us an opportunity to start anew. As the flowers begin to bloom and we celebrate the Spring holidays, let’s think about where we are and how to hit the reset button.
What Causes Meltdowns?
Emotional “dysregulation” is quite common for kids, but we forget it happens with adults. We move into survival mode, counting down minutes until bedtime and think about solutions to chaos rather than finding moments of joy and peace. Meltdowns occur in all humans due to a dysregulation of the nervous system. If we are unaware of what is happening, we stay in paralysis or survival mode until we burn out, blow up or both!
What Do Meltdowns Look Like?
During our webinar, we heard many great (sometimes funny) examples of pandemic meltdowns. It seems the pandemic was very successful in adding unpredictable layers of stress to existing chaos. Between family members testing positive for covid, to homeschooling, new jobs, remote working and the sheer uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s no wonder we cracked under the pressure. While dealing with some or maybe all the above, it’s common to find yourself raising your voice to your kids. A meltdown can look like shouting or arguing, but also bitterness, resentment and burnout are common traits. Each parent is different. Identifying what you look like during a meltdown can be the first step to preventing them.
So how do we prevent meltdowns? The answer is simple: give yourself exactly what you are seeking. This is where we dive into what we really want…the deeper desire. If a parent says, “I want a break!” what does that break look like and what will it bring? Peace? Relief? Once we slow this down, what we see is that as parents, we don’t allow ourselves to feel what we want to feel until we have the THING (the goal, the “break.”) Ironically, as we slow down, tune into our own nervous system, feel what’s happening for us, we gift ourselves the exact thing we truly desire! We’ve given ourselves the break.
For example: If you come home from a long day and see you kids sitting around in a messy room with no chores done, what do you do? Shout? The perfect meltdown. Play back this movie in slow motion and see how neutral this situation is. The kids are sitting on the couch. That’s it. You may experience other thoughts like: “My kids are lazy, and I do everything around here.” Notice how these thoughts make you feel: upset, disrespected, judgemental, etc and see where these thoughts and feelings lead to.
The Inner Work
Doing the “inner work” goes beyond self-care. It’s paying attention to yourself and honouring exactly what you desire and need. In the above scenario, the parent probably desires relaxation or connection. They’re probably hungry and thirsty too! So, let’s practise pressing pause, diving into the deeper desire and give ourselves what we need before reacting. What becomes empowering is noticing that peace and joy are no longer dependent on you finally getting that well deserved break. You don’t have to hold out all day to finally be rewarded. You can listen to the smaller signs and fulfil your needs as they arise, taking back your own power.
Hear Yourself Before Demanding to be Heard
Remember, you discover the desire by noticing your behaviour pattern. If you get upset and yell, your deeper desire is most likely to be heard. If your pattern is withdrawal, your deeper desire could be to ‘relax’ or ‘take a break’. When we honour our needs, the triggers are no longer present.
5 practical things you can do before, during and after a meltdown
Slow Down and Connect with Yourself
Slow down your internal world, paying attention to cues or markers that let you know you are outside of your window of tolerance. You might be too “high”- overwhelmed or too “low”- depleted/ burned out. For now, just focus on allowing and accepting the emotions.
Honour the Need that Arises
If you desire a break, take it. If you desire peace, feel it. If you desire joy, take a moment to dance in the kitchen or whatever brings you 30 seconds of joy.
Be OK with Taking a “time out”
Practice a calming technique such as breathing or visualisation. This goes along with self-care and models for your children and spouse that you are tuned into your own needs and limits. You can call it a “break” or “taking 5” and use that time to sit outside or lay down in your room while kids entertain themselves.
Ask for Support
This is tough to do if you’re living in a new place with less friends or family around. Some parents have found that asking for support via video calls can help. You can ask family or friends to help out with homework by jumping on a Zoom call. This can also work with reading bedtime stories or any other activities you can participate in remotely. If you’re really stuck for friends and family, check out the local community and see if you can build a support network through schools, kids groups or church.
Connect with kids/ family
Schedule intentional time to do something novel. Our brains crave novelty and connection! Plan a scavenger hunt, play a new game, give your kids a phone and let them direct their own commercial or movie. You can try new food together or dress up in costumes and go to the park! Camping in the living room is always fun or even ask your kids or spouse to plan something they’d love to do…
Watch the Webinar
Emotional dysregulation is addressed with awareness and self-compassion. Slowing down and becoming present is key in these moments of distress. You can watch the webinar here
What is one thing you can do in the next 24 hours to find your deeper desire?
Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families connect with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.
Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build memories together. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here.