Dr Lucy Russell’s photo | Facebook


I read this morning on Facebook, a link shared by Lucy Ireland (Bikini Beach) entitled “Parents are not OK”. It’s a well written but difficult read – the couple are clearly suffering during the CoVid19 pandemic measures. Written by Chloe I Cooney, the author takes us through the agonising balancing act of working from home and home-schooling and parenting in general. Immediately some readers may have picked up on ‘at least they have paid work’, but we all need to exercise compassion to ourselves and others here – does criticising others’ situation actually help us in this particular moment? – probably not. For those without paid work at the moment the challenges are huge, but it may be helpful to consider that these are different challenges to the paid home workers. To set up a ‘competition’ as to who is suffering most is not helpful and may impact on our children. There is a lovely picture on Dr Lucy Russell’s page which I think it would be fair to say is the ‘leveller’ for this pandemic response. We have in common that we are all parents.

Our kids are watching and learning about how to respond to stress and uncertainty”. Our parenting therefore has some kind of ‘revealed’ urgency during the lockdown. I say ‘revealed’ because I believe our parenting is always a priority, but in the rush of everydayness pre pandemic we often merged parenting into the ‘to do’ list rather than the ‘to be’ list. This is not meant as a judgement, a simple observation as to the ‘normal’ that Chloe I. Cooney touches on. She questions the actual fabric of our Westernised society and how it supports families, her painful experience of the lockdown has revealed to her just how we have sanctioned a society that places value of ‘paid work’ so much higher than the value of raising healthy happy children. Ironically of course the mental wealth of a society depends wholly on the mental wealth of our children, later becoming resilient, creative ‘productive’ adults, who then create the society of its’ time.

So for today I want to focus on what is being ‘revealed’ for you and your family at this time. The children are looking to us to see how to handle the situation. We all hope they will never have to handle such a crisis themselves as adults, but actually, this may be the best learning curve for them – they may never see us handling crises at work; either because we work away from home or simply that are at school most of the time. This is a valuable opportunity to teach our children the need for respecting individuals values, spaces and opinions. It is an opportunity – though not easy – to really get to know each other and work out our own shared family values.

Revelation leads to transformation and in a true ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Training) approach I reach to my own training to offer guidance. ACT training or therapy encourages transformation through examining what really works for us in a particular situation and sustains us to lead a happy and fulfilling life. The pandemic has thrust all kinds of uncertainty on us and it is absolutely ‘normal’ to be anxious about each day and the future, but the ACT question is ‘how useful is that anxiety?’.

In my research for help with anxiety in this situation I came across many unreliable sources, and we are bombarded with these in our Fb feeds and possibly even emails – so I have chosen two websites links that have helpful advice grounded in scientific research and rigorous peer review. I am simply going to guide you to the resources and hope that you can make a small amount of time in the busy day to read and re-read. And then to share your take with family members – even from a very young age children love to be part of the adventure of tackling change and uncertainty.

Dr Russ Harris’s You Tube clip uses the acronym FACE COVID to guide us through some simple coping mechanisms. It is a five minute video. Watch it whilst making a cup of tea or coffee, or even better, watch it as a family and discuss. The acronym is as follows:

F = Focus on what’s in your control

A = Acknowledge your thoughts & feelings

C = Come back into your body

E = Engage in what you’re doing

C = Committed action

O = Opening up

V = Values

I = Identify resources

D = Disinfect & distance

There is an informative eBook too that can be downloaded for free. (drive google doc below)

Then Dr Lucy Russell’s page on “worry and anxiety about Coronavirus” is extremely sensitive and practical. She takes us through six strategies that can help us to reveal what may going on for us as a family and has links to further reliable resources. Well worth making the time to read this page instead of watching more harrowing news clips, looking at statistics and wondering when it will all end.

Strategy one: Shift your focus to what you can control

Strategy two: Limit access to the news to limit worry and anxiety about coronavirus

Strategy three: Work on your breathing, and consider exploring or returning to mindfulness

Strategy four: Focus on activities that soothe the senses

Strategy five: Keep up as many routines as you can nurture a society that really does support connection over and above economy. It is only OK to ‘not be alright’ if we can transform the suffering into something better. Let’s do it!

Strategy six: Notice and create some positives out of adversity

Finally, back to Chloes’ heartfelt pleas – perhaps we can empower ourselves to make a difference as we emerge from this crisis. Maybe we can really examine our family values and how society needs to change in the future to give all families the space and time required to nurture a society that really does support connection over and above economy. It is only OK to ‘not be alright’ if we can transform the suffering into something better. Let’s do it!