27 Apr 3 Survival Tips to Try While Parenting in the Time of COVID-19
These are some different times indeed. While we find ourselves in quarantine during our COVID-19 crisis, stress levels are much higher than normal. We are doing our best to adjust to this “new normal.” Here are some tips to help you get through.
Give yourself the same kindness and care you would give to a friend during COVID-19
Suddenly you have to do it all. You are likely at home cooking 3+ meals a day, cleaning your kitchen 15 times a day, trying to keep your job, your partner’s job, ensuring your kids are all e-learning, while social distancing. It’s quite frankly not possible. Therefore, practice self-compassion. Give yourself permission to do it all less than perfectly at this time.
As Kristen Ness beautifully outlines, the three components of self-compassion will help you keep your emotions in check throughout this trying time. Be mindful of your current emotional state, remember that you are not alone in this, and practice self-kindness. Ness states, “Self-kindness is an antidote to fear. Kindness regulates fear through connection and warmth, similar to what we might experience with a dear friend.” Therefore, ask yourself, “How did I care for myself today?” and find a way to show yourself some love.
Create an Emotional Gap Family Plan during COVID-19
All of a sudden our precious “family time” is now all the time, and quality may take a hit with so much quantity. University of Houston research professor, speaker, and bestselling author Brené Brown shares advice for those who find their family is needing more than they can give. In her podcast, Unlocking Us, Brown suggests we prepare for the inevitable times when those in our family need more than we can give. To do so, she suggests making a “family gap plan.”
This means you make it a point to be transparent with your family members on how you are feeling, and at what level you are operating on a scale of 1-100 percent. For example, if your anxiety kept you up all night, you just dealt with a complaining and seemingly suddenly helpless child, and still have 100 unread emails in your inbox, you may want to say, “Hey honey, I’m at a 40 percent right now. What about you?” Therefore, he/she can communicate their percentage and you can game plan from there.
Additionally, Brown highlights the importance of having a concrete plan for when you don’t have a 100% as a family. Those rules will be different for every family, and she suggests checking in with each member to determine what they should be. For her family, they ensured that their gap plan included the following rules:
- No harsh words
- No nice words with harsh faces
- Say you’re sorry
- Accept apologies with thank yous
- More puns and knock-knock jokes
Allow your child to be bored. If that fails, encourage them to choose “3 before me.”
Throughout these past few weeks I have spoken to several parents who are struggling; struggling with e-learning, struggling with keeping their kids entertained and out from in front of a screen 7 hours a day, and struggling to try to keep their own jobs. Many kids are confused by their parents being home all the time, yet, they don’t have full access to them.
Kids are suddenly helpless and unsure of what to do with their extra time. It’s a rare contrast to our typically over-scheduled lives. Our kids’ attention is unceasingly attended to and for. Afterschool classes, sports, tutors, playdates, the list goes on. Somehow, boredom has become a parent issue and it is no longer up to the kid to figure out.
For now, if your children come to you when they are bored, acknowledge it, but don’t try to solve it.
Empower them to be creative. If they need a nudge, you can use the “three before me” strategy; a classroom management strategy classroom teachers use in order to push the responsibility of locating an answer to commonly asked questions to the student. In this strategy, before approaching a teacher, the child must ask at least three peers for help. If after three peers, the child still does not understand (or is dissatisfied with the answer), he/she may then approach the teacher.
In the case of boredom or helplessness, instead of encouraging your child to ask three peers, adapt the strategy; make them creatively problem-solve, or find three ways to occupy themselves before they come to you. You may be encouraged to see what their creative minds come up with!
If you have tried all of these strategies and more, and you are still having a hard time coping with the current situation, don’t hesitate to reach out. At North Shore Family Services, our therapists have been effectively using HIPAA compliant teletherapy since 2019. We will conduct an intake and customize goals and treatment to meet you and your family’s needs.
North Shore Family Services is a team of skilled and approachable therapists that help parents, children, teens, adults, and couples reduce anxiety and stress, learn effective problem-solving techniques, and manage emotions and behaviors that inhibit personal, school, family, and relationship success. We make therapy a productive, engaging and relaxing place for everyone to work hard and make the improvements they desire. To find the right-fit therapist for you and your family, visit our clinician’s page.