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Mental Health Week

Coming off an extremely rough few weeks, everyone was thrilled to continue with holiday decorations and projects. Emotions are boiling over all the time lately and everyone – including the kids – are stressed beyond belief. I abandoned any plans for the week and decided we would just do whatever makes us happy that day.

The kids continued with decorating the Christmas tree we put up late last week, delighting as they found each ornament and shared the memories that went along with each one. I also found a large tote full of my belated mother’s Christmas decorations that I wasn’t aware I had until we moved, and putting them all up around our new home made everything seem so much more complete.

We’ve been playing classic Christmas music around the clock, even at night. There’s something about walking into the living room in the middle of the night, all the lights off except glow of the Christmas tree, Christmas music playing softly in the background…it’s just a mood.

And we need that whole mood right now.

Speaking of moods, Arialle has been teaching herself the ukulele and actually produces some very relaxing music. We’ve been enjoying her strumming in the living room occasionally, and Willow likes to dance along. I love seeing them entertain each other.

One of the greatest things I have discovered through this pandemic is that all of my kids are little artists in their own way. Painting, dancing, singing, art, music…all of it has been such a big part of my life, and I love seeing it help give them some of the same escape and relief I’ve experienced when going through difficult times.

Art is life, man. Especially in 2020.

Tyler has been in a creative frenzy lately. He’s been cranking out drawings whenever he’s given the choice of (no-electronics) free time. We framed a 2020 Christmas drawing that he made with markers, and he was beaming with pride when he saw it hung on the wall.

Little things like that are what I’ve been trying to focus on this week. Little wins. It’s not a big deal to put a drawing in a frame and hang it on the wall to me, but for Tyler, it’s a huge accomplishment and he feels pride whenever he sees it now.

I’m trying to find little ways to bring that feeling to all of them whenever possible these days. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just a little praise or recognition goes a long way for their mood and self-esteem, and it helps all to recognize the positives in our lives. I have some pretty amazing kids, and as difficult as it can be to raise them sometimes, they also bring so much joy. Even working through some of the most frustrating challenges with them helps me become a better and more compassionate person, so I can’t really complain.

I masked up and braved a trip to Target because I have desperately needed some sort of organizing solution for their school supplies for months now, and came across a little $5 set of wooden houses that I brought home as well. Each of the kids painted their own house and now we have an original Christmas village. I love it.

We also got some great snow this week.

Every time they got too rowdy, they went outside and took it out on each other in snow fights. We’ve had about two to three “recesses” a day this week.

They also built their very first snowman! We’ve never had a yard big enough for one before (or one that wouldn’t fine us $50 each time our kids played in it without an adult around). It was so funny watching them figure out how to make large enough snow balls for the snowman – lots of face-plants in the snow, giggles, and working together.

They named their snowman Alice, after a coworker of their dad’s.

Tyler and Connor decided to start working together on creating a book. Connor is writing, and Tyler is illustrating. They’ve been creating a story board to plan it all out. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Overall, the stress levels haven’t gone down. If anything, they continue to increase daily. I’m fielding at least 5-10 crying fits a day at this point between all of them.

Taking a breather to focus on healthy coping strategies, things that calm us down, and things that bring us joy was necessary. Taking the time to talk through each of the meltdowns as they happened so they understand that it’s okay to feel that way, and there are things that we can do to help them feel better, was essential. We can’t continue to face the same things day in and day out if we don’t have ways to make ourselves feel safe, comforted, loved and accepted.

I hope I helped my kids feel that way this week.

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