Dear Caring Parent,

Covid19 parent is it more busy or is there what some call a ‘great pause’ for us? Many of us find ourselves busy in new busyness. I marvel at what this requires of parents. An invisible group of molecules is changing us a lot. So it does not seem like a great pause. I like the idea of a great pause, though, because no matter what, we are all noticing what we like and don’t like about all the changes. That’s our ‘pause brain’ at work. 

Our ‘pause brain’ is important right now – it’s helps levity. It comes from a part of our mind that stills and zooms in on a particular part of a scenario; either internal or external. When we are still, we can ‘hear’ other parts of our everyday awareness, appreciation, or understanding.

Sometimes we parents move on while the pause part of our brain tunes in differently. It’s like it zooms in on something and clicks it into our memory. How many times are we on unfamiliar ground, stumbling on but noticing a lot, until we intentionally stop and pick up on what our pause brain has been prompting us towards?  

In the spirit of looking for this aspect of ‘the great pause’, I can see that my pause brain definitely affects how I parent through COVID19.  

My Pause Brain as a COVID19 Parent

Once reality dawns that this virus really is going to affect us, my pause brain starts to zoom in on a range of feelings, many times that have nothing to do with deeper meaning. My life focus narrows to answers for what do we need, how do we stay safe, and what do I need to tell my clients? 

I have moments when my pause brain zooms in and goes ‘click’ . It clicks on the experience of fear for myself and my loved ones, on objective wonderment about this germ. It zooms on the sensation of life tumbling into something different, the sinking-in realization that much needs to change. Then there’s my scurrying mind as it weighs input from different health care practitioners, parents, the reactions the young adults in my life and family members. Finally, it zooms in on, whew, we can do this safely. These all firmly embed in my memory. 

All through these brain pauses, life carries on. I still am in the process of revamping my website and talking to clients, even though it is by phone and video. The emergence of spring is still exciting. There are still meals to cook and dishes to do. I still keep tabs on my daughter and her circle.  In fact, my pause brain records great relief in all of these – it is the stuff of everyday life! 

Like everyone (well almost), I move into changing what we go out for, when and how scheduled classes occur, how we work and spend money, what we do for entertainment and movement. Sometimes we do that with ease, sometimes with great irritability. Sometimes we are focused. Sometimes scattered. My pause brain is noting some of my experience. 

I don’t need to tell you about the changes! Every parent is experiencing the effects. Schooling at home, who is around and the loss of who isn’t, the financial changes, changes in one’s sense of safety, altered plans around dreams held dear.  Many notice the impacts of strengths and weaknesses in big systems – health insurance, air quality, government, technology, or employment policies. 

What I Found in My Great Pause

Getting ‘settled’ into these changes, the ‘new norm’, will continue to take some effort. I am however, coming into some meaning behind COVID19 as ‘a great pause’. Which means that I’m starting to pay attention to what I’m hearing within myself as I’ve responded to this situation. After all, I’m always advocating for parents to pause and listen to themselves! I also advocate that we sort through what we’re hearing and then focus on the parts we control. 

When I started listening within, thoughts about a meme I’d seen kept popping up. The meme suggested that how we reacted to COVID19 initially was probably how we reacted to uneasy events in our childhood. Because my childhood had significant dis-regulations in it, I didn’t want to go back to those reaction patterns – they were just fine then, even needed, but they’re not of service now. 

As I reviewed what my pause brain zoomed in on, I realized I was indeed partially reacting from some old stress and trauma response patterns. Even when I didn’t feel it, I was being oh-so-calm. I was putting everyone else first, while not paying attention to myself, putting a smooth glaze on things even when authentically shook. It took approximately two seconds to turn that around once I realized it.

I began to say when I was afraid or scattered. I took care of my needs. And I expressed when this, and all its implications, were a downer. Boy, did that empower me, even in all of this chaos. 

There are things that I also feel good about in my response, letting me know I am not doing the old patterns.  I look for good information, I let others fix their reactions, and I am reaching out to trusted others for reality checks.

In the end, this pause reinforced all the time and energy I’ve put into moving beyond de-energizing relationship habits.

Questions For All COVID19 Parents

What is your COVID19 parent brain pausing on, zooming in on? Are you reacting to not having control over this change like you did when you were young and had no control over changes? Are you reacting from a younger you to current authority figures telling you what to do, to personal safety feeling threatened, to loneliness, or to unreasonable expectations on you? If so, what a great healing time; a chance to see yourself and gently respond differently.  

To what do you need to give voice? How can you differently calm yourself? Is there something you need to shed some self-compassion on? What do you need to say ‘no’ to, guilt free, even if it disappoints?

Journal on these or whatever emerges from your pause brain. Sharing the questions and your answers with a trusted friend is also great.  

Being aware of what is motivating us, driving us, makes us conscious and not just reactive. I believe that when we’re conscious we pass something better along to our children.  THAT is how we create a future with more conscious, empathetic, ready human beings. The big win in this ‘great pause’ will then be that you have strengthened yourself even as a COVID19 parent! When you do that, you strengthen your children.

As you move through and evaluate COVID19 parent challenges, disappointments, losses and gains, I hope the above questions help you have a ‘great pause’ within all the busyness. 

Take care now, Natasha