While the chaos of the pandemic roams the outside world, we are tucked away at home dealing with the chaos our children have created. Moms and dads are forced to reevaluate their whole lives. If a mother was a full-time working mother, she now must deal with school closures. The single working mom who does not have many, if any, options of reliable people, are now forced to get creative with childcare. This pandemic is presenting a new and challenging world of problems for parents everywhere.
In addition to rolling with the punches, we must provide stability to our children. Younger children may be thinking, “We have mommy and daddy home! Hooray”. Tweens and teens are happy to be out of school and grateful for the break. On the other hand, our children might be noticing our anxiety. They are very perceptive and can sense when things are amiss. The new stress from jobs cutting hours and working remotely, and the disquiet of the thoughts of potential layoffs, are all piling up on parents. Trips to the grocery stores now feel like a scene from The Walking Dead. Every aspect of our “new norm” is a challenge. The important thing that we need to remember during these uncertain times is that we need to be certain of our strength, resilience, and creativity. Be certain that this too shall pass, and life will return to normal.
If we practice these healthy habits, we can take measured steps to remain positive in such dire times.
Speak positively – look at the glass as half full. Find a way to make positive emotions come from new challenges.
Voice gratitude – tell your family, friends, coworkers etc. that you are thankful for them. Be appreciative that you have a home, electronics, food, safety, and security. If you voice how grateful you are, you will be able to appreciate your surroundings even more.
Be simple and honest – give your children the truth. Explain what is happening as simply as you are able and avoid expressing panic.
Maintain stability through routines – younger children crave structure and stability. Provide that through keeping a bedtime; it could be later than normal, but it is still scheduled. Plan out your day as much as possible, if kids know what is coming next, they will be able to look forward to it. Mimic a similar schedule to school as much as you are able; they are already used to eating, waking up, doing certain things at certain times – try to do that.
Embrace the screens – while we are always working to limit their screen time, now is the time to utilize them! Social distancing is the best way to keep your children safe, but they miss their friends and extended family. Children that do not have a sibling could become lonely. There are so many different video conferencing platforms – use them to retain contact with your children’s friends/family. Use Messenger Kids to communicate with your children’s classmates.
Separate yourself – every day, give yourself time. Regardless of the time, take a few minutes to separate yourself from your kids, your responsibilities, etc. Do some breathing exercises, have a glass of wine, read a few pages, listen to some music…do anything you need to support your mental health. Your isolation (however short!) from your children, work, spouse, and responsibilities will allow you to revamp, which everyone needs.