It’s been so tough these past few days, seeing all that’s happened in Newtown, CT. As a parent, it’s unfathomable. With each new photo of these sweet angels that we see, our hearts break a little more.
We are shielding our kids from most of it — they don’t need to feel this kind of pain. And we all have to be sensitive to our kids — and not freaking them out with a house blasting the details over CNN, thinking that they don’t hear it or absorb the heaviness. Or with us suddenly crawling into their beds at night, hugging them a little longer or too tight. Although that’s something we’ll probably do for days or weeks to come, selfishly.
In the wake of it all, we feel helpless. I find myself pacing around the house, not knowing where to put my energy, trying to avoid the TV or Facebook, since it’s all just focused on details of the tragedy that are almost unbearable to hear or see.
Here are 7 things to — well, just DO — right now. Not sure if this will help anyone else feel better, but it’s how I’ve occupied the last few days.
1. Find just one child in your community who you know is in need of something — a coat, a Christmas gift, a warm meal, a playmate — and help out, right now, and involve your kids. My son told us about a boy he met on a local sports team, who said he’d never had his own skateboard and really wanted one, but wasn’t sure Santa would come through. We went together to buy one for him, and anonymously mailed it to his house.
2. Have a dance party. Not a lame, half hearted one though. Pick 5 or 6 songs that you and your kids LOVE and blast them. The only requirement is that everyone must dance until they are sweating.
3. Videotape your kids. Just talking, singing, laughing. Capture their spirit, their sweet smiles, right this minute.
4. Write down how you feel about them. Grab a journal (it doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty) and write each child’s name on it. Keep them somewhere special, and even if it’s once a year, jot down something about them you’re amazed by, or proud of.
5. Take a bubble bath. Alone. It’s ok. We all want to spend every minute being good moms, especially right now, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re no good to anyone. P.S. Bubble baths are always better with a glass of bubbly.
6. Say no. ‘Can you watch my three kids for just an hour tomorrow?’ No. ‘Can you take my cat for two days while we leave town?’ No. See? It’s easy! We need to say no sometimes to just breathe, and open the door to something else we want to do (or just give ourselves permission to do NOTHING).
7. Breathe. No, really. Just breathe. Stop what you’re doing, right now. Close your eyes. Take four or five loooong deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Make a sound on the out. Do this several times a day, or whenever you’re feeling stressed. It’s small, but it really makes a difference.