During quarantine last year things got a bit hairy in our home. I was new to homeschooling and was struggling with the whole process and my role in it. He was frustrated, and did not want to do schoolwork under these conditions, and I was at my wits end. The guilt and anxiety I was feeling weighed on me. I went from calm and collected during a morning lesson to impatient, snarky and yelling when my son refused to do exactly as I said. I felt so bad about these days that I had my outbursts and apologized constantly, over and over. My evenings were spent pouring over self-help books that were telling me to be calm and never yell and giving “tips and tricks” to being a better parent. I was disappointed with myself as a mom and was at a loss. I am luckier than most. I was able be available for homeschooling, and could work from home with flexibility. But, I was scared that this year would scar my kid for life, and my mind escalated with any doom scenario that I could invent.
How are you feeling? Really, how are you feeling?
The whole year was a bit of a struggle. We had our ups and downs, and we did the best that we could with the situation. However, I did pick up some emotional tools that though they did not change the circumstances that we were in, they helped to change how we viewed them. The first, was just acknowledging how we were feeling. I was surprised at how hard it was to talk about how we were really feeling inside. When my son was looking grumpy and tired, I would simple ask “What are you feeling right now?”. He would shrug and give me a look in his eyes that told me he was at a loss. When I asked myself the same question, I too felt lost. It was hard at first. But each day, I would ask the same question, “How are you feeling at this very moment?” Some days my questions were met with an eye roll, a shrug or just a “not now” look. But on other days, he would open up. He felt bored, frustrated, scared or just ok. I would listen and try not to judge. I would share my own feelings too. Then, we would simply go about our day.
This practice of checking in with our feelings became a habit. Doses of truth and vulnerability crept in, as we sometimes spoke openly. His fists would clench as he told me that he was angry, or his eyes would drop when he was telling me about his boredom or loneliness. There were days when he was ok too even joyous and happy, admitting that he liked being home with no set schedule. Some days it felt like a weight had been lifted, others when the weight was too much to bare. But there was an opening up and honesty that gave me hope that we were managing even at times thriving.
The printable for this Feeling Wheel, is posted at my new Etsy shop as a printable. It is meant as a prompt to help start the discussion, but honestly, you do not need it. All you need to do is ask your kids (and yourself) this simple question and keep asking each day.