We all have felt the effects of the recent pandemic and the quarantine our families have been under. Today I want to talk about how we can use stories to reduce stress both for ourselves and especially for our children, during this uncertain time!
Hello all, my Dad (Steve Lambert) shared his thoughts, ideas, and encouragement with you in his Live FB event Making the Most of the Current Crisis. If you didn’t see it live you can see it recorded and posted on the Official Group Five in a Row page on FB.
I wanted to connect with you all in the trenches, homeschool mom to homeschool mom! My name is Carrie Lambert Bozeman, I work from home for Five in a Row and I homeschool two children, plus a tag-along preschooler. My husband is a freelance graphic designer and also works from home. Working from home yourself or having a spouse working from home is something that some of you are becoming familiar with because of Covid-19. For us, it’s wonderful and we are grateful for work and the ability to do it from home and that we can homeschool our children…but having 5 people around each other all the time and trying to be productive isn’t easy!
I saw a news article go by a few days ago in light of the current times that read, “tips on working from home and staying productive.” I said, “Ooo honey, we should read this and get some ideas to help our everyday life.” Guess what, well, most of you will already know that the tips aren’t all that successful when you have toddlers or preschoolers around! So, if you or your husband are now working from home in addition to homeschooling…it’s a whole new ballgame.
While this week (vs. two weeks ago) may not look all that different from a typical day for a homeschool family…it is different! There’s underlying stress as we face uncertainty in so many areas of life: changes to where we can go, what we can eat, how many squares of toilet paper we should ration ourselves and our kids to each day, red chapped hands from washing them for the thousandth time (pro tip: Vaseline Advanced Repair lotion works wonders on that). And then there are the big stressors: is my husband going to have hours cut from work, will my high schooler be able to complete their online school work, what is our country going to do after this is over, and will anyone I know and love get sick? So, even though we might have been homeschooling and not going out-and-about all that often a couple of weeks ago, today is different. Give yourself and your kids’ grace! And your husband too. And then a little more for yourself.
How I use stories to reduce stress
We do have an ace in our pocket though…we have shared stories! A few days ago I saw an article titled, “How am I going to explain Covid-19 to my children.” It made me so grateful for shared stories and what we’ve learned from them and can relate to our lives. Over the last week, I’ve had multiple conversations with my oldest (who’s almost finished with Beyond Five in a Row) about what we’ve learned in our Five in a Row and Beyond lessons.
In our lessons over the years, we’ve covered crisis thinking, fear, death, lots of ways to help others in our community, polio during Teddy Roosevelt’s childhood, war efforts on the home front during WW2, following rules for our safety, waiting, and patience…just to name a few! Wow, these lessons make for good discussions of what we’re facing today and how we can approach the changes that are beyond our control.
Stories provide intellectual empathy that relates to so many things we encounter in our lives. It’s as if we can almost feel the relief of having been through this before even when we haven’t!
The benefits of reading get even better. Reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 60%! I’d say this may have been more accurate before Covid-19 but either way, it’s definitely going to help you and your child bond and de-stress!
Reading can provide a much-needed distraction during these times! Plan a trip to a foreign country via your favorite FIAR book and dive deeply into learning the culture, making a meal together, decorate the house and video call friends or family to share your travels!
You know yourself and your children best and know if you (or they) need a deep book that relates to our current experiences and provides support and emotional empathy or if they need a great distraction. Feel free to abandon plans you made before all this started and choose books and activities based on what your family needs at this moment. Give yourself or your child time off if they need to process or if the mental fog or stress is high.
There’s suddenly more resources available then we could ever use…if you want to, find the best one or two that will benefit your family and enjoy it! Don’t feel pressure to use everything that is out there. That can create its own stress. Also, you or your kids may want to dig in and learn something new to stay busy but don’t feel that you need to learn a new instrument or a second language to make use of this time. Just snuggle up and read, play a game, paint, bake some cookies, or make amazing LEGO sculptures with your kids! That’s more than enough.
There’s been a cultural push to get a lot done and take advantage of any spare time we have…what if we take advantage by resting and connecting with our loved ones? Perhaps we’ll all come out of this event with a better handle on balance and making rest and connection a priority.
Books throughout the levels of Five in a Row and the lessons within the manuals can foster conversation during this moment in history…If Jesus Came to My House or Prayer for a Child jump out as Before FIAR books that could speak to the moment. Waiting is Not Easy and All the World would be More Before books that I might choose, while Very Last First Time, The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar and Katy and the Big Snow would make good Five in a Row picks to relate to current issues. Beyond FIAR’s The Saturdays has topics that could relate to the sacrifices we’re all making. Many of the other books provide perfect distractions and things to focus on beyond your four walls!
I challenge you to take a few minutes today, even just 5 minutes to sit down and read to your child. Try it! Use stories to reduce stress in your life and you could be amazed at how helpful it is!stories
At Five in a Row, our hope is to inspire learning through great books and to help foster family connections. We want to help you not just survive this season but THRIVE during it. We’ve started a webpage www.fiveinarow.com/thrive to be a central source of information, ideas, and tips specific to Five in a Row, to help you navigate FIAR “rowing” during this time.
You have been doing this homeschooling thing for a while, maybe a long time…your neighbors and coworkers haven’t been. Reach out (via social media or chat from across the yard), encourage them, let them know that even the veteran homeschoolers are struggling with the loss of activities, social involvement, and the day to day focus to continue teaching and learning! We’re all in this together.