How to Keep Covid’s Silver Linings for Your Family

What to maintain when your schedule fills up again...

Let’s be intentional about getting back to “normal.”

The Covid-19 quarantine gave us a moment to really examine our lives. As restrictions are lifting, it’s worth asking: How do we hold onto those lessons?

In this episode, Carol and Anne talk about the shift that showed many parents what was missing in their family. They share specific examples from Child Whisperer families and give tips to maintain a lifestyle that supports a healthy family. Listen in to support your family, too.

This episode’s Parenting Practice

Call a family meeting. Ask your family what they want to maintain in your family’s lifestyle from the pandemic restrictions. What has been an unexpected benefit from Covid-19 that you want to hold on to? Your children’s responses might surprise you. Write them down so that six months from now, you can read them and reevaluate how you’re doing.

Transcript of podcast episode

Carol: Welcome to The Child Whisperer Podcast. I’m your host, Carol Tuttle, author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer. I’m with my co-host, Anne Tuttle Brown.

As we’ve been living in quarantine due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve experienced varying degrees of that. We’re starting to move into more normalcy and getting things back to being what we call “opening up” our states and the areas in which we live. You’re probably starting to notice some of the benefits our current events have given your family that have helped you create sort of a new normal, and what you want from that to even take a moment and examine your lives and how the benefit of what you’ve experienced and what came out of it that’s positive that you want to maintain.

There was a real shift that brought us back into our homes with our families, with your children, and a lot of parents are going, “You know, this actually showed me some things that our family needed that we were lacking that we didn’t know.” It was sort of like you don’t know what you don’t know until you’re put in the situation to learn it. Have you felt that, Anne?

Anne: Oh yeah, it was the blessings of Coronavirus.

Carol: So are you considering something…

Anne: I think this has given me a lot of opportunities to reflect on where my priorities have been and what, you know, where I have spent my time and an opportunity to slow down and reassess. I mean in a way, at the beginning it just felt like this jolt of like shut down first down…

Carol: It was very quickly…

Anne: Especially as a Type 2 being like, “I can’t plan anything right now. I’m having to like cancel everything.” And I lived…well I have a very full schedule and I am a planner so I like to plan far out and I couldn’t do that and it’s been a good just reset. We recently asked on our Child Whisperer Facebook group what other parents were realizing the benefits of this opportunity to just slow down and what they wanted to maintain in their family’s lifestyle once we’re kind of back to the opportunity to live busier lives.

Carol: Yeah. What do you want to now make sure you keep active in your family’s lifestyle that you learned in the process of being in your stay at home experience? You’re like, “We want to keep this going. We don’t want to go back to that as our normal. There’s things we want that we’re going to keep implementing that this brought to our attention that we started to practice.”

And so one of my favorite, it’s a simple a-ha that a parent had of a Type 1 child and I am so thrilled that they got this because I believe it’s what I’ve taught and yet it’s not been interpreted correctly that as we understand Type 1 children have a social connection with the world and they have a need for things to be kept light and more spontaneous and playful. So we call that bringing some fun into their lives.

And this mom wrote, “Also continuing little fun things for my Type 1 child. We’d go out every day to parks, activities, fulfill his need for fun. I didn’t realize how much he’d love the little things like sprinkles in his pancakes, spontaneous games of chase, silly dancing, etc.” And that’s it. That’s all a Type 1 needs. It’s not like we need to have a party. It’s not like a big event. It’s just these little spontaneous things that create lightness.

Anne: And the fact that the mom was like, “Okay, let’s get out, we need to fulfill your social needs.” Like that’s great, but what an opportunity to stay at home. Maybe it doesn’t take as much effort from me as a parent to help supply and then feed that need for fun. In that same vein, there was another parent that said, “I’ve realized that my Type 1 doesn’t need as much social time outside of our home as I thought. She has found a lot of joy in having more time to pursue things she’s curious about and be creative instead of running off to play with friends all the time. I want to help her keep a better balance.”

I think that’s great. And I’m curious for the adults in this group of extroverts, Types 1 and Type 3s, if they’ve been like, oh maybe I don’t need to be as busy as I thought or I don’t need…you know, there’s things at home in this quiet setting that can still fulfill my outward energy, my need for social.

Carol: I also, the schooling experience was altered completely. So it was not what we would consider a true homeschool experience because it was limited. It was even more restricted than most homes.

Anne: Schooling on house arrest. Online learning of some form.

Carol: A lot of homeschoolers came forward in the Child Whisperer Facebook group in the early phases of this to say this is not homeschooling. It’s way more.

Anne: There’s so many different…there are so many variables when it comes to homeschool when life is normal. So there’s obviously a lot of variables but we were at home trying to help our children learn whether it was online or you were a homeschooler and now a lot of activities had been shut down that you were used to doing. Like it was definitely an altered form of what we were used to.

Carol: So you’re seeing where educational formats are more supportive for your child. And one case a mom shared, “My Type 4 will continue homeschooling. He is thriving. My other two will return to school.” So it was, she may have never discovered that unless this had played out and so now she’s able to support that choice.

Anne: My daughter’s convinced that we’re doing homeschool from here on out, so we’ll see what happens.

Carol: She likes it.

Anne: She’s really enjoyed being home, yeah. And that’s what I’ve enjoyed spending more time with my children. Like I’ve been fortunate enough to keep working, but I did cut back on my hours and then not having to rush her. I mean she doesn’t go to school until 9:15 but somehow we were always still late. So it’s been nice to have slower mornings and then get into a rhythm, you know, and just be together.

There has been, and I’m sure you can relate to this as my kids have, they haven’t spent this much time together in a really long time and so there’s been this kind of like feeling that out. So there’s not so much fighting or like we need to create…everyone needs to go to their rooms for a little bit and have some quiet time and then also to see them create a bond that’s stronger than ever.

Carol: Learn how to play together.

Anne: And I’ve seen that a lot in families. Like my kids are closer than they’ve ever been.

Carol: Yeah. I love this one also because it’s the one thing I would have done differently with my Type 2 children is sit down with them more and this mom was very simple. She just said, “Sitting down with my Type 2 to do puzzles.” And I think that’s just great to take that moment to stop what you’re doing and connect with that child that really thrives on connection and appreciate spending time with that kind of time with them.

Anne: I have loved seeing people out on family walks or family bike rides. I feel like I’m living in the like ’70s, ’50s.

Carol: It’s more like the ’50s, I think.

Anne: Yeah. People have nothing to go do in the evenings. They’re just strolling around on their bikes like a family, a gang of kids driving around their bikes.

Carol: You’re living in “The Truman Show” community.

Anne: Yeah. And it’s warmed my heart because I’m like, I always think like what? What would they be doing if this wasn’t…like would all the kids be at their different activities and the parent racing around trying to like go to the different basketball or baseball games or whatever. Instead, they’re all together riding their bikes. And one of the parents on the Child Whisperer Facebook group shared this. “We’d go for family bike rides multiple times a day. We call our Type 3 the boomerang because he likes to go as fast as he can ahead of us and then race back. He loves his nickname.” That’s so cute. And then she shares, “Our Type 2 stays with me going at a nice, easy pace.”

Carol: A couple of parents shared, of course, many people were still working from their homes, which was different, and they’re seeing the value of that. In this parent’s case, “My Type 3 husband has decided that he’s going to work from home twice a week. He’s loved being able to come out of his office and play with our baby boy and connect with me and our daughters throughout the day.” So see, that’s shown too, a lot of things can be done from the home and the benefit that is as a parent, be able to have that time with your family.

Anne: I love this thought as well, doing projects together instead of me taking the boys out so Dad can do them. It may take a little longer, but our Type 1 loves helping and our Type 3 loves the challenge and I think there’s been so many opportunities like okay, I’m not used to doing this with everybody here, but okay, like mealtime, you know, we’ve been eating at home a lot more and I’ve really enjoyed like having more time to cook and prepare. My husband said, “I like the stale, man. You’re making way better food than you have in a long time.” Like, what? Well, we went out and grocery shopped a lot in the beginning so I had a lot of food to play with.

Carol: True. Well, you weren’t so hurried.

Anne: I had a little more time.

Carol: Yeah, it’s like this time, my Type 4/2 has loved being able to stick to a morning routine. She’s really loved slow mornings. We’re going to figure out a way to let her have some slower mornings as she heads to junior high school so that she’s not so up and out and go, that that’s not as serving to her.

Anne: The one thing that I’ve loved a lot is making time to read together with my children. It’s something I’ve always admired is families that sit down and do read-alouds and gather all their children around. And that’s like as a Type 2 I love that connection and having them close by and snuggling on the couch and reading, but I just had never made the time to do it. It’s not like I couldn’t until this, but now it was like, okay, I have the responsibility to be helping my second grader learning and reading that like this is necessary now and that’s something that I want to keep doing on a regular basis.

Carol: Are your kids going to go back to school?

Anne: As of right now, yeah, we’re planning on that. It’s interesting though, at the beginning of the year I started to feel this… Well my sister homeschools. I have a sister-in-law that homeschools as well. And so I’ve always liked the idea of doing some form of homeschool or distance education. And at the beginning of the year, it really weighed on my mind. I just started to think about it a lot and then this showed up. So it was like maybe that was my little way of like being prepped for it to give it a try.

But one thing that’s been fun and someone mentioned this as well, is calling and FaceTime with family members. One night we got on with my husband’s family and did games over Zoom and I’m like, “Why did we wait until now to do this?” Like we couldn’t see them anyways. They’re in Texas and Missouri, you know, but like I think…

Carol: Which games? I’m curious which games translated to be able to do online.

Anne: Well they have a whole bunch of like a whole bunch of games that are made up for like house parties. One we played the Ellen DeGeneres one, Psych! where like all your phones are synced and you play a game together. It was really fun. And then one week for homeschool we did a world tour and so every day we picked…we have a lot of family who’s lived out of the country and so we picked a country and we did a Zoom chat with that person. And so there’s just been so many opportunities. We’ve shared a lot of them that like we can keep this going, especially as we head into summer and your kids won’t be going back to school, like how can you keep moving this slower pace and opportunity to be together?

Carol: Those families have children the same age as your kids. So that’s a time for them to connect with those cousins.

Anne: Let’s keep this conversation going, but first we’ve got a quick message for our listeners.

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Carol: One more that I’m a big fan of is, “I am loving the healthier eating. No more on-the-go processed snacks or drive-through meals. I’m going to give it my all to ensure we keep our fruit and veggie snacks and our meal preparation in line. My Type 3 son loves the meal schedule. He uses it to ensure time is left in his day to accomplish all the things. My Type 4 daughter needs the structure of the meals and snacks to keep her attitude level.” And so again, we just got kind of in this rut of go, go, go and you know, this has been a chance to reset and say let’s stop and breathe.

Anne: Well I love how that she said, “I’m going to give it my all,” and it honestly feels like, okay, like is life just going to come back at me? Like I’ve got to be prepared because like I want to keep certain things how they have been, you know, and even this last week as things have started to open up, I had some things scheduled in the evening, a Zoom call was one of them, that like something that hadn’t been planned before and then like an outing with a friend and it was like, oh my goodness, my week’s starting to feel so full all of a sudden. I realized, oh I’m getting more things on my calendar. And I was like, okay, I want to step back and really be conscious of what I put into my life and what’s priority.

Carol: That’s our parenting practice for this week is have a family meeting and have this same conversation with everyone in your family. Ask the question, what do you want to maintain in our family’s lifestyle as we have…we’re out and about more and our schedules get busier? What have you enjoyed? What’s benefited you?

It would be interesting to see what you learn from your children. Some things might surprise you. I’d like you to do this with your family, Anne, and see what they tell you, what they liked. Obviously Sam really likes the treats when he gets his haircut, but he was okay not going to school. You know, so it’s just an opportunity to maintain this reset we’ve all been able to benefit from but bring your family into that conversation so that you can choose to keep that new norm in play as a whole family.

Anne: Then write it down so in six months’ time you can read it back and be like, oh yeah, I remember those things, yeah.

Carol: How are we doing? Right. So think of that very, very old but popular quote, there’s a silver lining in everything. And there’s certainly been a lot of very positive takeaways from our stay-at-home experience and being more confined. And so make that a new established norm. What is your new norm? Involve your family and getting really clear on what you’re going to create in your family’s lifestyle.

Thanks for listening. For more support, go to thechildwhisperer.com where you can purchase the book, subscribe to our weekly parenting practice e-mail, and find a transcription and audio of The Child Whisperer Podcast.

Anne: If you’re listening on iTunes, thank you for leaving a review. If you have a parenting question, please send it to [email protected].

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