Let me start by saying that I actually wrote this 2 weeks ago… only it was in my head… I hope that I can get it all down on paper (ok pixels or whatever) as good as it sounded 2 weeks ago in my head… I know you feel my pain… the struggle IS real!
Two weeks ago… it was the end of April… It was the point at which we all realized we were in this for the long haul. It was when we realized that our return to “normalcy” was going to be a long way off… And that yes, this new normal, was here to stay for a long time. School was going to continue remotely for the rest of the year, proms were cancelled, spring sports were out, graduations were not going to happen, vacation plans were squashed… Life as we know it was not returning any time soon.
I hit a wall. The wall. I was done. It was over professionally. It was over socially. It was just all over. I just couldn’t see how I could sustain these long days in front of the computer. I have been an OT for the past 26 years… I move, I groove, I think on the spot, I motivate and adapt and get kids to engage and grow… under the guise of play. How am I supposed to keep doing that over a computer screen??? And lets not forget, I am also worried about all of this, I am socially distancing to protect myself and my family. I love my family, family is everything, I miss my parents, I miss my brother and his family, I miss my son who lives with his father. My high schoolers are remote learning… Are they getting what they need? Will their grades be ok to get into the colleges they want? Are they spending too much time playing video games? Are they getting enough sleep? (what else would they do with the time?) I am stressed,I am worried, I am afraid… I am human. I need a hug.
So, I take a breath, or two or three hundred, and fall back on what I have learned as an occupational therapist working with the wonderful people at KidSense.
The occupational therapist in me knows that we make this work. I can find ways to regulate myself. It might be a quiet moment during the day or a walk in the morning or yoga in the afternoon, it is OK to take time for myself so that I am more available to my clients and their families during remote learning sessions.
Remote learning and teletherapy may have its limitations- we just can’t be there in person. But…it does have some benefits. I think of how many times in the clinic I have heard a parent state that they wished they could keep an OT in their back pocket, and how many times a family from school has expressed they would love to have us at home. With this “new normal” we can come pretty close to that. We can offer a new perspective in the home, we can offer parent coaching in the moment. We can give parents permission to let their kids do headstands on the couch (vestibular inversion… its very organizing you should try it) and pull or push each other around in a laundry basket (great vestibular input for the rider… awesome heavy muscle work for the pull/pusher). The bottom line is that we OT’s are a creative bunch, our training tells us that we must be able to break a task down into pieces and modify these pieces to make them easier or more challenging to make the activity therapeutic for the child, but to elicit an adaptive response to make the child successful. So… I had to ask myself, if I could do this for my clients and students and families…what was the problem? I could also do this for myself. I am lovable and capable of taking what I have before me to work with and adapting it to make it work. I can do this, WE can do this.
My speech therapist friends ( I fondly call them “Speechies”). Two weeks ago the Speechies would tell me that my brain was not in the group and they would be right. They would ask me what kind of thoughts I was having… and I am pretty sure they do not really belong in this blog. They were born of frustration, fear and feelings of not being in control. They would also tell me it was OK to feel and think all of these things (as any human would). That feeling and thinking things is never wrong or bad, but that it is all about how I react and respond to them. They would tell me that I can choose to have a reaction that does not make others feel uncomfortable, they would tell me that I can choose to respond in a way that serves me, one that lets me feel good about myself and those around me. I can choose to be flexible and go with the flow making the best out of the situation and work hard to stay present in the moment.
So here I am… two weeks later, still working at succeeding at our new normal. I am not as overwhelmed, I am doing the best that I can with what we have been dealt. I am working with the tools and resources that I have, looking for the bright sides of our situation and using it to our benefit as much as I can. I am an occupational therapist, I am loveable and capable… we are loveable and capable, we can adjust, we can adapt, and we can continue to grow and respond and succeed.