It has officially been one month since my 8-year-old has left our property. He came home from school on Friday, March 13 to begin spring break, and he has stayed home ever since. My teenager has left twice - once to pick up a pizza and once for a doctor’s appointment. I hope that things are going well for you and your family in this strange time we are living in.
One thing that I have enjoyed is more time for family walks. I’ve incorporated a couch to 5k program as part of our “home school,” and every morning at 9:00 am we head out for 30 minutes of exercise. Enthusiasm is mixed but we’re doing it anyway!
This morning, my little one raced ahead and I was left with my teenager. I asked him how school was going in his new online classroom. In typical teenage fashion, he provided pretty limited feedback, but in between grumblings and wry observations, I heard him say something that caught my attention.
“What was that?” I asked.
“What,” he replied.
“What you just said. You said you try to get back into something-mode. But I missed the first part.”
“Oh. Pilot mode. When I get off track or I get frustrated, I try to get back into pilot mode.”
I couldn’t suppress my smile, partly because I loved the idea of pilot mode and because I was so proud of him for being self-aware and pro-active. He went on to explain that he tries to remember that he is the pilot and that he needs to not get distracted from that. I asked where he learned such a cool idea and he said, “nowhere, I just made it up!”
We are surrounded by distractions, frustrations, and unknown elements that provide plenty of just cause for getting out of the pilot seat and wandering around the aircraft looking for answers, explanations, or signs that life will return to normal soon. We could turn on auto-pilot for a few minutes and indulge ourselves in that distraction, but before long we need to get back into pilot mode and take the controls again.
I asked him how he does it. “How do you get back into pilot mode?”
“I just notice that I am out of it, and I remind myself to get back in it.” That kind of non-judgemental self-awareness is a gentle and compassionate way to care for yourself. In the process of kindly redirecting yourself, you build the confidence you need to tackle difficult emotions, circumstances, and feelings.
When we got back home from our walk, I watched him run ahead of me and into the house so he could do whatever he had on his mind before signing in to school on zoom. Over the past month that we have been living in this strange time of history, I have definitely felt like we are flying our family to an unknown destination. But we have a good flight crew, and together we will land this plane safely! And so will you. Stay in pilot mode!
P.S. If you need a little help getting back into pilot mode and staying there, consider joining The Good Life! As a member, you'll get group accountability AND one-on-one coaching to help you live the way YOU desire each & every day.