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Spring’s greeting from Southeast Youth and Family Services!

With declining case rates and hospitalizations across the west, governor Inslee will adopt a new mask policy across the state of WA. After 11:59 p.m. on March 11, wearing masks in schools and most service locations will become “recommended” instead of required. To many, this new policy brings extra joy as Spring enters our lives again, where friends and families can enjoy warm fresh air uncovered. (Not to mention finally getting a full-face tan). To others this brings extra worry about protecting themselves.

Many parents also raise concern about how this would affect their children in school, in regards to their safety as well as re-coping with a ”normal” school life after two long years. Fortunately, this topic applies to both children AND adults, as more and more offices reopen for employees to work in-person. Parents and kids endured this pandemic with significant hardship, which provides a rare opportunity to express and empathize about the same experience.

A shared experience, is a shared bridge between people. As always, crisis brings opportunity, and communication is key! We staff at SEYFS would like to provide assistance on familial communication in this transitional period. There are many questions to ask, and you and your family have all the answers!

Your family shares this victory

1) Surviving COVID has not been easy, but you did it! This is worth celebrating.

  • What has it been like for you and your children? How did the pandemic change your interactions with family members, and those outside?
  • How have you managed to find happiness with so much going on? What are you doing right?

2) Remind each other that both sides contributed in this victory equally, even if the challenges have been different.

  • What have the challenges been for parents? For kids?
  • What is the common ground? What differs?

The missing two years

1) Children from 0~18 lost two years of youthful interactions that we adults had the privilege to experience at their age. Instead of doing activities with peers in school they looked at each other through digital media. This is a genuine loss, but not unrecoverable. Questions to  ponder:

  • What was your life like at their age, when there was no pandemic?
  • Before the pandemic, what were your children looking forward to during those missing years?
  • Notice any behavior/mentality change during the two years?

2) Much like handling other losses, there will be guilt, regret, fear, anger, and hopelessness. Allow those emotions to flow, and use them as motivators for a better future.

  • What can the family do together to recover from these missing years?
  • What were some of the goals you wished to accomplish during the pandemic? Perhaps now you can plan ahead for them.

3) Rebuilding connections with people outside of your immediate family.

  • Other people too share this loss, but there is strength in connection. Have you spoken with your friends about this?
  • Others in the community sought to remain strong during the pandemic, this includes teachers and your favorite shop owners. What do they think and feel about this?

Looking into future

1) With you and your children returning to more normalcy, there comes both comfort and new challenges.

  • Where would your family go first, now that the mandate is gone? What activities will you do?
  • What is important for your family to be careful about, despite the lifting of the mandates?

2) There will be potential conflicts between people, on the topic of wearing masks. Remember, communication is key. Questions to ponder:

  • Have your kids gotten into conflict with their peers over the topic of masks? Have they been bullied?
  • What are the precautions classroom teachers put in place that could resolve these conflicts?

3) If there comes another spike in COVID cases, the mask mandate might come up again. Remember that your experience will help you get through it again.

  • What experience did your family learn from previous years that would help you with the next?

Other safety issues and precautions

1) First and foremost, safety! The best way to remove fear is to know that you’ve protected yourself the best you could.  Talk with your children about the steps your family decided to take to stay safe.

2) Even with the pandemic near its end, basic hygiene can still help. Remember to wash hands before eating and after activities. 

3) No doubt our favorite locales will become more crowded as the weather gets warmer. Talk as a family about how comfortable everyone is with spending time in public places. 

4) If so desired, you and your kids have every right to keep wearing masks, even if others don’t.

5) Remember, there are risks besides COVID during warmer seasons, be sure to pay attention during swimming/hiking/outing, for signs of risks such as sunstroke. Drink more water to stay hydrated!

If your family would like support in dealing with the emotional impacts of the past two years, feel free to email us at counseling@seyfs.org. Until then, enjoy your sunshine!

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