Counselor's Corner: Hold Your Line


Dear Parents,


This week I read a facebook post from a professional cyclist who shared that she was driving down the highway behind a truck, when a tire tread flew off the truck and hit the hood of her van.  She said the two important lessons she learned from cycling saved her life during this traumatic experience.  Those two lessons? “Never panic” and “Hold your line.”  What a great analogy for what we are dealing with right now!  We were all smoothly cruising along on our individual journeys, when COVID came crashing into us.  We were all given the opportunity to panic, swerve, and lose control. Or, hold our line, stay steady, and continue moving forward. 


Cyclists are constantly reminded to “hold your line” not only to keep themselves safe from crashing, but also to keep other riders safe as well.  We all know that panicking only causes chaos, and some situations require us to be flexible and adjust, but holding your line despite what bumps are in the road or what comes flying at you is the safest way to ensure that you keep moving forward.   For us, “holding your line” can simply mean maintaining the patterns and rituals in our life that we do have control over and that keep us upright.


In previous weeks we’ve given you tips for self-care and protecting your well-being, and this week as another coping reminder, here are a few ways you can “hold your line” during these last few weeks before crossing the finish line into the summer holiday:


Maintain family rituals and traditions.

One of the most important needs we talk about when families are going through transitions is to keep your family rituals and traditions.  These give your children a sense of rootedness and belonging.  Even as an adult you hold on to rituals and traditions for a sense of "normal." If you always eat dinner together, don’t skip this just because you’ve spent all day together in the house. When a birthday comes up, don’t put off celebrating that person and do what you can to continue what you would do in non-COVID times.  Family traditions are individual and endless: hold on to these, but if you need some tips on starting some family traditions, reach out to others in our ISD community (I’ve heard them share some fabulous ideas), or check out these sites.  


Fun Family Tradition Ideas from Parents.com


Creative new Ideas for Family Traditions from The Every Mom


Change your clothes!  

We know you’ve heard this one, but it is worth reminding you.  Get out of your PJ’s for the day, and crawl into comfy clothes for the evenings.  If there is a special occasion, dress up!  Have date night at home, and put on some fancy outfits.  Differentiate between your work clothes and your workout clothes, unless you’re one of those lucky people for whom those are the same.  


Keep bedtimes and morning alarms.

One thing we are required to do during “normal times” is work within a structured schedule with a time to wake up in the morning and a reasonable time to turn off Netflix and get into bed.  Even if your day shifts a little bit, or your children’s day shifts timing, you can still have alarms to keep you in check and help add structure to the rest of your day.  Keep holding yourself accountable for a time to get your day going and a time to wind down.  


Make weekends feel like weekends.

We’ve heard from students, teachers, and parents that all the weekends and holidays melt together.  Be intentional about making these days something to look forward to.  Some suggestions might be having a special treat on Friday afternoons, NOT setting an alarm on the weekend mornings, having a big breakfast together on Sundays, or getting out for an activity you can’t do when you’re stuck by a computer all day.  Put some distance between you and your computer screen and leave something for Monday.  


Keep high expectations for how you treat each other at home.

We are all under a lot of pressure right now, and a lot of times we can take out our frustration and sadness on the ones we love and the people we are stuck inside with.  While this is understandable, being unkind, not fulfilling family responsibilities, or withdrawing from the family should not be a “new normal.” 


Be kind to yourself.  

Reward yourself with ice cream, a bubble bath, a walk alone, or anything that you consider a “treat.” Many activities that we love and bring joy have been put on hold or taken away, but continuing to search for sources of happiness shouldn’t change.  


Keep exercise, sleep, eating, and hygiene routines.  

We are encouraging our students to maintain school work routines and schedules, and the same should be applied to your everyday routines and schedules. This doesn’t need much explanation, just encouragement to keep up those routines!  


Hold on to those relationships that keep you steady and balanced.  

Distance can take a toll on relationships that come easily when we aren’t sheltering from each other.  So, continuing to foster relationships outside our riding pack (those we quarantine with) might need to look different, but holding tight to those relationships are an important part of coping.  We all might be zoomed-out, so get creative in the ways you continue to connect. 


Create your own finish-line

Don’t stop setting goals and working to achieve them.  They can range from reading that book you’ve had on your list for a while, finishing a 5km loop in your neighborhood, contacting the friend from college that you think about all the time but never write, or going back to school. Hey, we heard they are figuring out how to learn it all online now~ Create a finish line for you to cross and a date that you can ride across it.  


Let others draft off of you.

Another cycling strategy is to let someone else ride so close behind you that you break the wind and they don’t have to work as hard or use as much energy.  When you see others around you struggling, pick them up and carry them with your positive momentum.  When you see your child feeling down, when your partner starts losing motivation, when you see a friend struggling to keep up, share what energy, positive outlook or coping trick you’ve developed to help them continue to move in the right direction. You never know when you might need to draft off of one of them later. 


So, as we head into the last sprint before the finish, don’t panic and hold your line.


Take care, 


KK, Mary, Eileen, Jeff & Paula

ISD Counseling Team

The International School of Dakar

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