The novel coronavirus is no longer culturally novel. It’s been several weeks since schools and non-essential workplaces began to close down, and many people are settling into what's become the new normal: social distancing. In place of face-to-face contact, individuals around the world have developed new ways to stay connected and still have fun, even while adhering to public health guidelines.
Nina Westbrook is one such individual. If you think celebrities aren’t affected by the crisis, think again. The psychologist, entrepreneur and wife to NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook let us know that, like most of us, she’s getting creative and coming up with ways to establish normalcy for her family. This multi-talented mom of three is a force to be reckoned with and wants to share her knowledge with other moms.
We caught up with Nina to discuss how her family is taking advantage of being in quarantine to spend time together. As a psychologist, Nina says that families can use this period to do things together like cook, play games, and do exercises together.
Doing activities and staying engaged with your family is imperative during these unprecedented times. “We've just been trying to keep it fun and keep it light and educational,” Nina says. “Even though they are so young, they’ve grown accustomed to going to school. They get to play with their friends and learn how to be social and follow rules, learn and discover.”
To keep that social activity mindset and practice going, they participate in outdoor activities as a family, including gardening, exercising, painting, and playing games. “We’ll go outside and have them do jumping jacks and relay races, and some things like that,” she explains. “It'll help them to get their energy out. I also said let's go ahead and start gardening so the kids can start picking their fruits and vegetables, and learn how to care for plants and watch them grow and take care of them.” They even make pizza together as a family.
Moms are always juggling multiple things. And, now more than ever before, they are being put to the test. But Nina wants fellow mothers to manage their expectations and not be so hard on themselves. “If the house is a little bit messier than usual or if the kids aren’t put to bed on time, it’s OK,” she says.
Working from home while teaching your children can also be very challenging, even for Nina. “It's really hard to focus on work when your kids are in the next room yelling and calling for you,” she says. “They're having fun and you're in the other room, trying to focus and be productive. That’s a challenge, but I stay positive and do the best I can.”
Her husband also lends a hand with the kids, and it helps tremendously. “We take turns if I’m working,” Nina says. “Russell will take the kids and do an activity, and if he’s in his office, I will have them doing an activity.”
As a mother, she encourages moms to be patient with themselves and take a little “me time.” Whether it’s painting your nails or taking a bath, it’s important for mothers to take care of themselves — especially as they take care of others.
“Managing your expectations during this time is going to do a whole lot to help you maintain mental wellness,” she advises. “Any time that you can get away and just take five or ten minutes to yourself to collect your thoughts will help.”
“And it doesn't seem like a lot, but really five minutes of ‘you’ time when there's so much going on,” she says, “It can do a lot to help you refocus and give you the motivation — or a little boost to get back out there and keep it going.” Because, let’s face it, parenting and working from home is no easy feat.
“Celebrate the small victories,” she says, “and understand and know that things are not going to go according to that beautiful schedule that you mapped out or planned out, and that’s ok.”
Nina’s children — son, Noah, 3, and twin daughters, Skye and Jordyn,1 — are a little young to understand everything that’s happening right now. However, she does recommend being transparent with your children because it is healthy.
“I mean there's no denying that something is going on,” she says. “Kids are really smart. When you educate them on what's going on right now, you should talk them through it. Just make sure you're listening to their feelings and emotions about things and letting them express their feelings. This includes whether they express frustrations or if they're excited because they get to be home and they don't have to go to school, or whatever the case may be. Acknowledging those feelings and supporting them, and making sure that you're giving them accurate information is important. Open dialogue can help ease some of the anxiety surrounding what's going on around them.”
With so much family together time in quarantine, couples with kids are struggling to squeeze date nights in. To stay connected even when they can’t get away alone like they used to, Nina and her husband try to enjoy the simple things, like Netflix and chilling.
“Literally our dates have been Netflix,” she says. “It's like, ‘Oh you heard about a show on Netflix?’ A special time for us is when we get to watch TV. So, when the kids go to bed, I find something to watch on TV and we have dinner and a glass of wine.”
Nina also says that her husband is the better dancer out of the two. Even so, we can still look forward to them joining in on the fun TikTok craze. They’ve already mastered the Ty Dolla $ign hit, “Gimme Something.”
“Russell knows all of the cool dances that the kids do, but doesn't love for me to dance,” she admits. “He's like, ‘you're embarrassing me,’ Nina says while laughing. “But I know how to do the ‘Gimme Something,’ dance, so we’ll see, we’ll work on it.”
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.
(Photo courtesy of Nina and Russell Westbrook)
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