THE Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of families in various ways. My recent conversations with parents and experts confirm the reality of rising anxiety experienced by different members of the family in different ways. From my own kids, I see how much they miss the social interactions in school and sports activities. For us adults, managing our kids’ distance learning and Zoom meetings overload at times can be overwhelming.
With the recent spike in new infections and the continuing uncertainty of vaccine availability, how can families pull through this summer with a bit more laughter and positivity? My recommendation: speak, surprise and shine.
FAMILY communication is not as automatic as we may think. Parents oftentimes feel helpless when kids give them one-line answers to questions like, “How was your day?” My daughter, at 14, told me recently that she felt lucky that she could confide in me so naturally, even on topics she thought would shock me. I told her it was not because I was a good communicator but because I was self-aware of that fear of not having good family communication, which prompted me to set up “exercise times” for family communication especially when my kids were younger.
I feel a relaxed environment fosters a better communication arena. Summertime, when kids are free from homework, and parents don’t have to do school prep routines, provide great practice times for different types of communication. Some activities I recommend:
FINDING RECIPES TO DO TOGETHER. Try to take the first step, and then allow your kids to lead the next steps. Enjoy the mismatch of ideas, the laughter in the mistakes, and even arguments.
HAVE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT TIME. Be it YouTube karaoke, “Name That Tune” with each family member’s playlist, or showing off dance steps from different eras, the purpose is for the whole family to find “silliness” together and hear pure laughter.
DO MINI FAMILY PROJECTS. Try building science kits, model car kits or even setting up a family pool together. My goal here was to establish family cooperation and pride in accomplishing something together as a unit.
Last, allow your child’s voice to be heard a bit more, no matter how outrageous their thoughts may be. Refrain from our usual reminders or lectures. Share your personal stories also that are more quirky or less perfect, to let your child get to know how their parents were as kids or teenagers.
I ALSO believe that each child is unique. However, during the school year, our kids need to conform to certain norms and expectations. Summer for me should be a time to surprise the individuality of each family member. I wrote in my column on April 19, 2017, titled “‘Flipping’ summer for a ‘stretched’ me” (bit.ly/2OY6bI4). This lines up my recommendations on the mindset and activities that stretches us and our kids beyond our comfort zones.
SUMMER can also be a time to build your child’s confidence in their own “stages.” Joining classes to hone or learn new talents allows learning as well as exposure to mentors and peers. Most of all, it’s a great arena for just having fun.
Kids are surely lucky that Promil Four i-Shine mounts its biggest online Talent Camp to date. Now in its ninth year, the campaign has transitioned into an Online Camp with classes that have been expertly designed for children, and with the virtual world at their fingertips, nothing can stop their gifts from shining. Participants can tune in via Promil Four’s official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/promilfour) and The Gifted Channel on YouTube (www.youtube.com/PromilPreSchool) to watch the episodes.
“Promil Four has always been about supporting parents in helping their children grow healthy and be successful at what they love to do,” says Maria Carmela Gabunada, marketing manager of Promil for Wyeth Nutrition. The biggest and most prestigious online camp for six years old and above is being led by some of the country’s most respected mentors: National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, choreographer Georcelle Dapat-Sy, actor and director Audie Gemora, craftsmaster Robert Alejandro, arts director Kara Escay. Also joining them are celebrity vlogger Dimples Romana, folk-pop Ben&Ben, and photographer Magic Liwanag.
Let’s remember that as the pandemic stretches into summer, let’s take the opportunity of this increased togetherness at home to speak a little louder, surprise yourself a little bit more, and find each of your family’s stars to shine. n
Image credits: Practical Family