PEP Blog

04|03

The Family Gap Plan

By Trish Pannuto

I recently listened to Brené Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. There were a few key takeaways in a recent podcast that I thought are worth mentioning here as they are timely, meaningful, and dovetail with our philosophy here at PEP.

“We Have Collectively Hit Weary”

I don’t know if you’ve felt it this past week, but I’m feeling exhausted. The cause? A combination of the following: a less than disciplined bedtime schedule, fitful nights of sleep, lack of a routine (though I know better), and the emotional toll of what’s going on in the world around us. But Brené Brown points to something else, the aftermath of the adrenaline surge. “The adrenaline surge of crisis is never as long as we need it to be, but it’s often long enough to get us through the immediate danger.” With the adrenaline rush past, when we stop and take stock of where we are, the enormity of it all — the loss of ordinary — engulfs us, and we’re left feeling weary. 

It’s Not a Sprint. It’s a Marathon

Unlike most other crises that we’ve moved through, the Coronavirus, COVID-19, will be with us for a while. Brené Brown uses the soccer metaphor of “settling the ball” to describe what we must do next to avoid collapsing following this month-long sprint. To move from this adrenaline surge to settling the ball, she offers a strategy that we can all use today, the Family Gap Plan.

At PEP, we talk about cooperation in families being like the four wheels of a wagon. When one of the wheels falls off — or doesn’t function well — the wagon doesn’t move very easily and the wagon cannot go as far. Our families, our “wagons,” may not be moving with ease right now, operating at less than 100%. Enter the Family Gap Plan. This conversation to address What happens when we’re not at 100%? is worth having as a family. What systems do we need to put in place to get closer to 100%? What do we need to do to finish the marathon? When the Brown family is at less than 100%, the following gets triggered:

  • Sleep – 8-hour minimum
  • Move your body – it’s where we store anxiety, grief, etc.
  • Eat well
  • Limit the news

I sat with my kids when I first listened to this podcast and, while we’re still not at 100%, we’ve taken the “eat well” seriously! The photo above is yesterday’s effort. Writing this reminds me that it’s time for our weekly family check-in. Please take a minute this weekend to listen to the podcast and then talk about your family gap plan. Share your ideas with us here in the comments.


PEP is about parenting for the long haul. The strategies, tips, and ideas shared here and in our webinars are designed to get you through a sprint. For this marathon, you’ll need something more. With nearly 40 years in the business of parenting and a cadre of parent educators who understand your challenges, you’ll find camaraderie and support in this difficult time. There are limited spaces left in April’s Master Classes, Encouragement! Building Your Child’s Confidence From the Inside Out and Redefining Discipline: A No Gimmicks Guide to Raising Responsible, Respectful Kids. Join us; let’s get through this together.


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