When I was a sophomore in college, my family went on a 10-day Caribbean cruise over the Christmas holiday. On the last night of the cruise, our ship encountered the outer bands of a tropical storm. I woke up in the middle of the night to the ship rocking so hard I thought it would rock me right out of bed.
We had recently watched the movie Poseidon – where a cruise ship capsizes – and in my pitch black cabin, armed with those images of the flipped ship, I was terrified. I crossed the hallway to my parents’ cabin and jumped into their bed. From their porthole, we watched the massive waves crashing against our ship. Over ten years later, I still remember that sight.
We prayed together and then turned on the TV and watched highlights from the NCAA football championship game the night before. If I had been by myself, I probably would have had a panic attack. Or cried. Or both. But being beside my parents, who calmly prayed and hugged me and stayed up with me, it settled my spirit.
When the sun finally came up and the storm drifted away, my dad and I went up to the top deck and prayed. I’ll never forget that moment: sitting with my dad, watching the most beautiful sunrise as we prayed and thanked God for bringing us through the storm.
As parents, we have a profound impact on how our children perceive the world. If we peacefully and patiently accept what we can’t control, they see that. Oftentimes our stillness helps them to be calm, too. And even if it doesn’t – it certainly registers in their subconscious for the future. The opposite is true, too – when we are anxious, worried and tense, that translates to their behavior as well.
But what do we do when there is an actual crises – something truly scary or dangerous ahead? As we deal with the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s a battle for us as parents to know how to react. There are several articles at the end of this post that I recommend reading about how to handle this current crises. Below are ten ways that I’m utilizing to try to be that calm in the storm for my kids.
What are some practical ways for us to find calm in the storms of life?
- Spend time with God. Wake up before your children and read God’s word. Or reserve some energy for after the kids go to bed to pray and meditate.
- Play calming, spiritual music. I’ve been listening to Hillsong United on repeat lately. Prince of Peace (the live version) is my jam right now.
- Memorize a verse or two that you can reflect on throughout the day when you’re tempted to worry. I have some great free printable verses on worry and peace in the free printables section.
- Breathe deeply. Light a candle or put some calming essential oils in a diffuser.
- Protect your little listeners. Try as best you can to not discuss overwhelming topics in front of your kids. Leave the room or wait until they go to sleep if possible. Even pre-verbal kids can understand a lot more than we think they do.
- Talk to someone. Take a few minutes to call or text a friend. Yesterday I FaceTimed with both of my sisters and it was SO refreshing. I’m also an advocate of reaching out to a mental health counselor or licensed therapist.
- Be informed, but don’t overdo it. This is a tough one for me: I have gotten to the point where I had to stop reading the news because it freaked me out so much. At the end of the day, I ask Tyler for any relevant updates, but I honestly can’t handle reading too much about COVID or it affects how I am with my children.
- Go for a walk. Being outside in God’s nature helps us to be more at peace. Exercise increases endorphins and allows us to be able to more adequately handle stress.
- Write it down. I’m a huge fan of journaling, and especially of prayer journaling. I think it helps to really let things go.
- Have a plan. Get informed and figure out what you need to do in order to be prepared. Once you have a plan in place, this can help you to be more at peace about the future. But remember that God is greater than any plans we might have.
Here are some great resources to assist in keeping calm in the storm:
- Greg Stier: How to Help your Teens Overcome Their Fears of the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Focus on the Family: Talking with Your Kids About the Coronavirus
- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries: If God, Why the Coronavirus?
- American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress: Helping Children Cope Emotionally with the Coronavirus
- Focus on the Family: Responding to the Coronavirus with Faith and Common Sense
I hope this is helpful to you, mamas, as we go through this surreal pandemic. If you ever need anyone to talk to or are looking for resources to help you through this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.