Parent Wellbeing Through a Pandemic

February 10, 2022
In a rapidly changing world, loss of daily routine, isolation, and uncertainty can all lead to anxiety, fear, depression, and loneliness. Information overload, rumors and misinformation can make you feel out of control and make it unclear what to do. When you feel this way, your children may feel it too — and their emotions play off how you are feeling. Talking to them about what is going on can be challenging.

Parents must work together to provide support for each other during these current times. With students returning to in-person learning from remote learning environments, it is important for parents to have a balance and understanding of the importance of their wellbeing in order to handle the stress and the anxiety that comes with uncertainty.

The changes in how children are being educated has created a new lifestyle that parents must adapt to quickly and without despair.  Not only is this pandemic hitting parents hard, but it is impacting how kids interact with others, how they learn, and how to handle their emotions. As a parent, understanding your wellbeing is key and will have a direct impact on the anxiety and stress levels in children

Here are some steps you can take to help you and your children cope:

·  Caring for yourself during this time is important. As in air travel, the flight attendant will tell passengers to put their oxygen mask on first before helping others – this will allow you to care for others.  Pay attention to your feelings and rely on loved ones to talk or a mental health professional. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and stay active with friends and family. This will enable self-care as well as the resilience to care for your children and serve as a role model for how to cope.

·  Remain calm. Your children will look to you for clues about how to react. Remind them that how they feel right now is OK and encourage a positive outlook for the future.

·  Keep to a routine. Keep or create new family routines, such as mealtimes, chores, relaxation, and bedtimes. This structure helps children feel control in situations and a sense of security. Use a whiteboard or paper to display a daily schedule at home. Checking off tasks can encourage a sense of accomplishment and allow for goals to be set. Although you it is hard to avoid interruptions in schedules, be conscious of these changes and how they may affect your child.

·  Limit access to news. There may be times that the constant news about COVID-19 from various sources of media may heighten fears for your child. Limit the exposure to the news and encourage reading or journaling instead. Also limit social media to avoid exposure to rumors and false information that can heighten anxiety. Be cautious about discussing the news and your fears in front of your children but allow them to talk when they voice concerns about the disease.

·  Be creative about ways to have fun. Encourage activities that your children enjoy, such as puzzles, art projects, reading and music. Create opportunities for family time like creating meals together, home movie nights and enjoying walks around the neighborhood.

·   Enjoy virtual socializing. Connect with friends and family members using FaceTime or similar apps to allow for more interaction. This can help to avoid feeling isolated and can build and maintain relationships.

·  Avoid placing blame. Be careful not to blame specific people, including those in a cultural, racial, or ethnic group.

·  Seek advice if necessary. If you notice persistent problems with sleep, changes in eating habits or difficulty concentrating on typical tasks, or if your children have a persistent sense of hopelessness, excessive sadness, or overwhelming worry, contact your doctor or a mental health professional for advice.

·  Remain calm. Your children will look to you for clues about how to react. Remind them that how they feel right now is OK and encourage a positive outlook for the future.

·  Keep to a routine. Keep or create new family routines, such as mealtimes, chores, relaxation, and bedtimes. This structure helps children feel control in situations and a sense of security. Use a whiteboard or paper to display a daily schedule at home. Checking off tasks can encourage a sense of accomplishment and allow for goals to be set. Although you it is hard to avoid interruptions in schedules, be conscious of these changes and how they may affect your child.

·  Limit access to news. There may be times that the constant news about COVID-19 from various sources of media may heighten fears for your child. Limit the exposure to the news and encourage reading or journaling instead. Also limit social media to avoid exposure to rumors and false information that can heighten anxiety. Be cautious about discussing the news and your fears in front of your children but allow them to talk when they voice concerns about the disease.

·  Be creative about ways to have fun. Encourage activities that your children enjoy, such as puzzles, art projects, reading and music. Create opportunities for family time like creating meals together, home movie nights and enjoying walks around the neighborhood.

·  Enjoy virtual socializing. Connect with friends and family members using FaceTime or similar apps to allow for more interaction. This can help to avoid feeling isolated and can build and maintain relationships.

·  Avoid placing blame. Be careful not to blame specific people, including those in a cultural, racial, or ethnic group.

·  Seek advice if necessary. If you notice persistent problems with sleep, changes in eating habits or difficulty concentrating on typical tasks, or if your children have a persistent sense of hopelessness, excessive sadness or overwhelming worry, contact your doctor or a mental health professional for advice.

Caring for yourself during this time is important. Pay attention to your feelings and rely on loved ones or talk to a mental health professional. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and stay active. This will enable self-care as well as care for your children and serve as a role model for how to cope.

Dr. E is a Licensed professional counselor, certified coach, and founder of The Parent Pilot an “all things parenting” organization that helps parents successfully navigate the turbulent, but joyous years of parenting.


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