How Are You Doing?

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Identifying family goals and managing expectations.

In the coming weeks, CTN’s Neuropsychology Team will be sharing a series of posts to support the mental wellness of the children, youth and families that we serve. We hope that these posts and additional resources will provide comfort and encouragement as we adjust to our new ways of working, interacting and going about our daily lives.

The first post in this series is from Dr. Jennifer Saltzman-Benaiah, Psychologist & Specialty Team Facilitator, Children's Treatment Network and Mackenzie Health. Dr. Jenn has been supporting children, youth and families with disabilities and developmental needs at CTN for over a decade.

The other day a friend asked me how I was doing. “Okay I guess,” I responded.

The question seemed harder to answer than usual. Most days now I don’t get dressed, I am not doing my usual job and my kids are not following their usual routines. In my head, I’m thinking, how am I doing? Good. I hope?

Before physical distancing, the activities in my life helped me to know how I was doing. The answer to “How am I doing?” was a combination of three things: what I did during the day, how I managed it and how it made me feel. Yeah, I’m good. I had a crazy day at work and was late to pick up the kids at school, but they were able to walk home, and now we’re eating a quick dinner before we head out to hockey practice. Same old, same old (with a grin). How are you?

With social distancing, our activities have drastically changed. Work, shopping, kids’ activities and home life are different now. Setting achievable goals can be helpful in that they give us a sense of structure and accomplishment in uncertain times. But the expectations aren’t going to be the same as before, and they aren’t going to be the same for every family.

Here’s an example of four basic achievable goals and our expectations for them:

Goal Expectation
  • Eat some healthy food every day; have easy to grab items, healthy snacks available throughout the day (fruit, granola, etc.) Plan ahead for grocery shopping and meals if possible.
  • Find opportunities for movement every day (e.g. soccer in backyard, go for walk, carry laundry up and down stairs, play with the kids, online yoga/exercise, etc.)
  • Set aside time for socializing with family and friends every day (e.g. talk at dinner, movie night, phone a friend, video chat, online gaming, etc.)
  • Do my job from home.
  • Complete home learning if and when possible. Deadlines are not important, it can be done in small bits, and life skills are good too (laundry, cooking, tying shoelaces, etc.)

On a good day, we are accomplishing each of these goals in some way. On days when we don’t meet all or any of these goals, it's still okay. Tomorrow is another day. 

For more information around goals and expectations, please watch this video.

Here are some quotes to reflect on during this extraordinary time:

 “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Jimmy Dean

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

 “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher