Now raise your hand if you’ve ever cried or felt helpless when it came to coping with that stress?
In my primarily hospital-based career as a Certified Child Life Specialist, we are trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury. The Association of Child Life Professionals explains that stressful events can impact the ability to cope, noting that, for kids, “these experiences related to healthcare can lead to feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control and isolation that can inhibit their development and have negative effects on their physical and emotional health and well-being.”
We would be hard-pressed here to not find parallels in what we as moms are going through as we try and carry ourselves and our families through this pandemic.
I spoke to a friend and fellow member of the Fairfield County Mom community about these feelings and how they can bubble up inside. I suggested leveraging one of our child life tactics: Toilet Paper Targets.
You heard that right.
Toilet. Paper. Targets. The idea is to physically exert our emotions while processing the things that are making us feel tapped out.
What you’ll need:
- A whole roll of toilet paper
- A basin (or mixing bowl, or those pink hospital bins—something large to hold water)
- A large piece of paper (think easel size)
- A shower curtain liner (or drop cloth, or sheet, or mop)
What you do:
- Fill the basin with water
- Tape the large piece of paper to your wall, and place the shower curtain liner underneath the target on the ground to catch the mess (or do it outside)
- Draw a big target
- Write down your stressors around the target (hybrid learning, missing that indoor cocktail with your gal pals, not being able to travel to see family, feeling guilty that you feel thankful for the screen time helping you get through work calls, whatever it may be).
- Unroll a big wad of toilet paper and put it in the basin. Don’t ring it out! It must be sopping wet
- Pick up the wad of toilet paper, and with all your might, launch it at the words on the target while screaming out loud “I CAN’T STAND E-LEARNING!” “I MISS MY FRIENDS”
- Repeat until the toilet paper is gone or your emotions feel validated.
You can do it alone, or it can be a full family activity.
It can feel vulnerable, but the therapeutic sense of relief after doing this is nothing short of cathartic.
It permits us to let loose. It allows us to show our kids that they are not alone in their feelings of being overwhelmed. It teaches them a safe coping tool. It allows us a physical release of these bottled-up feelings.
Make it fun! Discuss it. Process it. Set goals for a brighter future. And while it may feel wasteful, especially on the heels of toilet paper being such a hot commodity not so many months ago, when it comes to mental health and coping, a sacrificial roll of toilet paper goes a long way.