What a time to be alive! Not many of us had any idea to prepare for a pandemic within our lifetime, yet here we are. These new changes are creating new tasks and a way of life for us. If you are a parent during this time, whether new or old, you are facing a multitude of different realities that you are lucky enough to be responsible for. You have your own well-being, routine and concerns to navigate through this event, then we add in our littles. Although this is a place of privilege and honor, it is also an intimidating and stressful one. The good news is that there is no perfect parent. We all have our strengths, from the mother with anxiety (even before this health crisis) that always sanitized her child’s hands and caught that object before it made it to the mouth of their little, to the mother that had no care in the world and bedtime was a thing of little importance. We can all learn from one another to reach that lovely middle ground that is parenting. Follow these key points to survive, or even enjoy, this extreme time in our lives.
We have all seen the schedules that have been floating around on social media and the advice that routines are key for ourselves and our littles during this time. Of course everyone is different and sometimes routines can cause anxiety, so you will need to be the expert on yourself and your family. Having a visual of your routine of when to expect school work, free time, dinner, etc. placed somewhere for everyone to see can help keep us motivated and on track. Although a routine is beneficial, it is important to remain mindful of when to be flexible as well to avoid this being a cause of stress.
Boundaries are a very important piece of daily living, especially when we are closed in on top of one another. Setting time boundaries with yourself, your children or your spouse is important to ensure you are taking care of you. My grandmother always taught us this important fact through the example of plane travel; you must put your mask on before your children’s. Set a time where you and your spouse take turns going to another room to engage in an activity for yourself, put the children to bed a little earlier to have time to watch that TV show you enjoy, teach your children a fun new hobby that you can enjoy together, call that grandparent that loves to keep your child’s attention while you complete a task next to them, or what have you.
When we are knocked off of our normal routine we lose track of healthy coping tools, so it is key to actively make adjustments to keep going. If you are like myself, then this can be a good time to start that physical activity in order to challenge those symptoms of depression that leave us feeling lethargic and demotivated. Set small attainable goals daily; going for a walk, doing a garden project, completing 10 push-ups, doing a 5 minute stretch, etc.
Validate the emotions
We are all spinning with emotions during these times, from feeling so motivated that you are going to attain a new degree to not wanting to get out of bed. Victor Frankl stated in Man’s Search for Meaning, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior”. All of our emotions are valid, especially now, no matter how differing they may seem. We are grieving, loving, learning, hurting, scared, eager, anxious, angry, frustrated, loopy, peaceful, and so on.
I believe it is important to incorporate gratitude into our daily lives to foster a positive outlook. Use this time to challenge those negative thoughts through identifying things you can be grateful for. Establish a daily family meeting with all members of your household where each of you go around to identify things they appreciated from the day, each other or life in general.
Remember to lead by example as our littles are always observing our behaviors to learn how to navigate the world (even when we don’t want them to). This does not mean you have to be perfect, but that you should validate those emotions, control what you can control, practice self-care, and do your best with each day. If you feel you need some additional support you can contact us to schedule a session or free 15 minute consultation call.