It's a COVID summer Part 2 - Intuitive parenting balances fun and safety.

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Its summer vacation. Maybe you feel anxious about safety but want to have fun. If you are away or home, here are tips.

I was a single parent and my lifestyle often called for quick decisions. This can be called “turning on a dime.” I had to practice listening to my intuition. During COVID it’s really helpful to tune in.

Years ago I took my 4 year old to the Fireworks at Disney. After one boom, she was screaming, scared and wanted out of the crowd. Shocked by her reaction, and given that I had no carriage, I threw her onto my back and carried her piggyback to escape as quickly as I could.

When you are listening to the still small voice with in, self-resiliency skills, making spontaneous decisions and letting go gets easier. Families in COVID experience a new level of listening with in.

· Take actions that defy logic.

· Turn down a social invitation; attend an event but go late or early to be socially distanced.

· Choose to hike quietly instead.

· Do a zoom/face time family meeting.

Listening to intuition isn’t like learning a language or even riding a bike. It’s trusting that you have an intelligent inner part of yourself. If you silently tune in, it will lead you in the right direction. This process also lets you know right away when you didn’t. It’s that simple. If you ignore your gut saying to leave the park and then 15 minutes later find yourself running to the car amidst a thunderstorm… you didn’t trust your inner self and have some wet kids and parents. Each time you honor your gut; you build your bank of self-resiliency skills and intuitive parenting.

Here are key tips to manage the Covid summer safely, and have fun

1) Help kids adjust to the routine of this new normal.

Kids feel safe with predictable familiar routines. On a vacation, or staycation introduce new routines gently with old ones.

· Staying six feet away or wear a mask if closer.

· Kids stay close by.

· Have breakfast or meals at the same time.

· Go to the pool when it's a quieter time with less people around.

· Walk on less populated routes.

· Get curbside and eat outside in a quiet spot.

· Give kids a heads up about the schedule.

· Alternate eating outside with eating home.

· Do less populated activities at less busy times of day.

· Always have water and food with you.

Structure a balanced routine of physical activity and down time.

· Assume rest, and eating is mandatory.

· Nature and outside time quiets the nervous system and regulates the brain.

· Do less screen time.

· Go hiking, boating, biking, walking or swimming.

· Consider the clear facemasks for kids who need to see social emotional cues.

· Read a family chapter book together or a family movie.

· Talk more about how everyone is feeling.

2) Discuss rules and boundaries before, so you won’t have to yell later.

Talk to the whole family about safety, boundaries, and obeying.

Be clear about what the children can and can’t do. Have a code word that means “this is an emergency “and explain to kids that it means they need to listen to you with no discussion. This way they sense it's a safety concern and can respond. Examples are:

· A family member is sick or needs a bathroom.

· There is an abrupt change in weather.

· The family needs to leave quickly to get into the car or under cover.

· You find yourself suddenly in a crowd and unable to social distance.

· A sudden transition is needed and kids need to drop what they are doing.

· The parent needs the child’s help.

Sense your way gently into action

· Interact, gently sensing if a child or another is playing unsafely.

· If kids are spitting water, exhaling or making raspberries noises too close.

· Children playing with each other’s toys without permission.

· It is too difficult to social distance.

· Connect with a child with a comment like “ yes it stinks to have to stop”

Children just are craving fun without concerns of COVID and its natural for them to forget the new guidelines.

4) Be Strategic

Finding private spots will make a socially distanced vacation so much less stressful.

· Sense when to pick up curbside so you avoid waiting in a long line.

· Create down times for everyone to rest quietly in shade.

· Make adjustments for the long walk, or extended outing.

· Avoid a tired, thirsty, hungry kid with sensory needs careening to meltdown.

· Try a drive–in movie with pillows for kids to sleep.

· Bring squeeze balls and toys for the difficult moments and avoid meltdowns.

5) Find a daily practice for the whole family so you can build your bank of intuition.

· Seek quiet time and notice your breath go in and out. Programs in schools have been successful in reducing problem behaviors and promoting calm with 15 minutes of meditation, reading, resting or doing nothing, with no electronics allowed.

· Try family yoga. Who can do the hardest pose or balance the longest?

· Try a mindfulness activity to stand outside in safe weather and close your eyes. Sense in which direction you feel pulled to move. Take a step in that direction and see where it leads.

· On a blank paper, sense and draw something with the non- dominant hand.

6) Find time for parents daily to get in touch with feelings.

· Do open eyed meditation, sit quietly and listen to nature or do cooking, walking, dishes, and reading quietly.

7) Do less. It’s not about how many things you can cram into one day. Half the fun of vacation for kids is simply a change of scenery with YOU for the day or more. They don’t remember all the details. Keep your plans simple and just enjoy one another. That makes a memorable vacation or staycation.

Barbara Neiman is an Adoptive parent, a pediatric Occupational Therapist, yoga and mindfulness teacher, speaker, coach and offers Telehealth. She lives in New Paltz NY. She is the author of 3 books and shares courses at Find her on Facebook at Mindfulness and Yoga skills or Barbara

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