Don’t try to do everything: Focus on what’s important

Every one of us is experiencing this stay-at-home time differently. Factors from the realms of work, family, and health combine to create a myriad of challenges.  

For example, many parents are currently struggling to balance work responsibilities with educating their children at home. Resources and opportunities for educational enrichment abound, and while I appreciate how fortunate we are to have so much available to us, it can be overwhelming. We may think we need to take on more than we are able. Or we suspect that we may not be doing enough.




At times I’ve found myself engaging in “should” oriented thinking, accompanied by the associated mental state of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). Examples of this type of thinking include, “We still haven’t watched that zoo live feed…I wish I had a printer to print off these museum coloring sheets…oh no! I missed the live feed of this illustrator showing her work on Instagram.” 

I’ve found that what’s working better for me is going in the other direction, focusing on a few important highlights to accomplish each day, and then leaving space around those. I pencil one or two educational opportunities into my week as suggestions, and if they work out, that’s great. But, if they don’t, that’s ok too. It really is. 

One thing that has been useful at my house is to create a list of suggested activities (for example: read, write a story, play) from which my daughter can choose. This won’t work for every child or family, but it has the benefit of giving children some choice and therefore some control over their circumstances. For us it has also led to more stretches of free play, which early childhood experts say is still one of the best ways for children to learn. It also helps them develop the skills needed for emotional regulation.

Another challenge for many of us right now is to engage in physical activity and self-care. Even if this seems difficult to do, I would venture to say that it couldn’t be more important. Incorporating daily or weekly movement into your routine is customizable, and can be as simple or elaborate as you like. From stretching, chair exercises and jogging in place on the one hand, to exercise videos and live streaming yoga classes on the other, there are nearly endless options available. 

An extra bonus to this season is that walks outside, tending to the
garden, or playing and puttering in the yard are simple ways of achieving movement goals. It also allows us to enjoy the benefits associated with observing the seasons as we transition from spring into summer.  

The library is a resource for a variety of digital materials (ebooks, eaudio books, and even movies) that promote movement and physical activity. I was excited to see one of my favorite resources, Breathe Like a Bear, available in both our Hoopla (evideo and eaudiobook) and Overdrive (ebook) collections.  Breathe Like a Bear takes viewers and readers on a mindfulness journey through a series of activities, using cheerful animal characters. Breathing, movement, and emotional well-being are covered in a format that is light, warm, and fun for everyone.  

Breathe Like a Bear author and creator Kira Willey suggests that parents may even enjoy the exercises so much they’ll find themselves watching the video without their children! Even if that doesn’t happen, I can honestly say that when the video is over, I look forward to the next time we can breathe like a bear together.

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Cheryl Lindemann is a collection development specialist at Capital Area District Libraries, and a co-host of the Reader’s Roundtable Podcast.   

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