Sesame Street for Military Families has released new resources to help military families connect with one another and their communities to combat isolation and loneliness, something a lot of military households have reported since the start of the pandemic.
The unique circumstances of military life, such as moves, frequent changes to routine and being far from family and friends can intensify feelings of loneliness and isolation for both children and adults. But even if you have a robust support system, experts say military families still need to make an effort.
“There can also be some feelings of trepidation with getting back out there and finding new routines, whether that’s in their community that they’ve been in for a while, or if they’re moving,” said Tara Wright, a senior content design manager for Sesame Workshop, the global nonprofit behind Sesame Street.
The new resources include three videos featuring Sesame Street characters as they model ways for families to “connect with intention” by doing meaningful activities that provide a positive influence.
“The key point of these resources is to help families build a sense of connectedness and togetherness … whether it’s a small effort in their routines or making the bigger efforts to plug in and find their people within their community,” Wright said.
One of the new videos reminds viewers that even mundane tasks, such as running errands, can be considered special family time. The second focuses on how small efforts can yield big rewards, even when you’re exhausted.
The third video focuses on solo parenting and the importance of getting support from your community. Wright, who is a military spouse with three boys under age 5, said she understands that well.
“There’s a lot of strength in solo parenting, and we find our ways to navigate through that time, but … even when it feels like you’re all alone and you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders … there are others who want to help you. They just might not know how,” she said.
Military families can sometimes feel awkward or uncomfortable sharing their military experiences with civilians, but Wright encouraged them to do so anyway.
“You might be surprised at how many people in your community actually can relate or have some experience or just want to reach out to be there for you,” she said. “Being able to be brave and share your experience allows others to be in that circle and to help when they can.”
Wright said the website also has new printable activities for children, as well as articles for parents and caregivers with tips and tricks that dig deeper into the themes of the new videos.
The free resources are available in English and Spanish on the Sesame Street for Military Families website, under the tabs “Family and Community Bonds” and “Learning and Growing Together.” Additional resources are available on Sesame Workshop’s website.
“We just want to encourage families to remember that they’re not alone,” Wright said. “There are things they can do within their families and within their broader communities to feel connected and whole.”
Sesame Street for Military Families has helped children and families navigate the unique challenges of military life for the past 15 years. The new materials join a host of other resources to support military families through deployments, homecomings, long-term family caregiving, transitions in health care and more.