Due to the winter storm we experienced this last week…for the children’s safety, all learning will be asynchronous, online until Wednesday…possibly until March 1.

Email dated 2021.

Not 2020.

It feels like Groundhog’s Day 365. Almost a year ago, we started the daily walk through pandemic, quarantine, school-at-home, Zoom meetings, canceled dance recitals, masks, and it’s taken its toll on our mental and emotional health.

But what about our children’s well-being?

I sat in the bathroom reading a follow-up email from Lucy’s teacher: “I hope you are warm; I will try to set up Zoom calls next week so the children can see each other and I can guide them through their day. Hopefully, there’s no damage to the school, and we’ll be back in person later in the week.” I cried for Lucy because she’s cried more than she should have these last 12 months.

A year ago, she left for spring break with hopes of weekday play dates with her new friend, who recently moved from Japan. She left her journals, pencils, and books at school with the promise to return the following week.

Except she didn’t. She finished the school year online like the millions of children around the world, safe at home. She worried about her friend who didn’t know much English, whose parents didn’t know many people. She was frustrated that her favorite pencils that wrote and felt the right way were left behind. She missed her friends, her routine, and her teachers.

I found this video in her Dropbox to her teacher and school counselor.

What about Lucy’s mental and emotional well-being?

In the past year, she’s heard “no” more than her previous six years combined:
•no bowling,
•no movies,
•no birthday party,
•no playground,
•no field trips,
•no school without masks.

Her developing brain thrives off smiles, silliness, hugs, friends, and routines.

When I tested positive for COVID-19 late in the summer, Lucy’s sentiments to me were, “Bummer, mom; it’s been a good run!” I realized the news she ingested led her to believe I wasn’t going to make it. We needed to better care for Lucy and her sister’s mental and emotional health.

I’ve learned to be unapologetic about these three things to usher in joy and peace for our family:
8 Second Hugs. Hugs release endorphins (reduces tension), dopamine (boosts mood), and serotonin (relieves symptoms of depression).

Keep a Routine. Routines help children feel safe and secure. Many unpredictable circumstances came at us last year, but we’ve set boundaries around bedtime, Friday movie night, and a space specific for schoolwork.

Sing. When I struggled through the “shoulds” of being new to motherhood several years ago, I read that if your child was singing, s/he was happy! For almost a decade, my home’s thermostat is determined by my girls’ active singing while playing, in the car, at bedtime, anytime!

Psalm 5:11, applied to my home, says, “Let your children be happy; let them sing songs day and night. Protect your children; they are happy because of how you care for them!”

Prayerfully, our land and people are healed, and 2021 is a banner year of health- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; for our children and us.