Coping with Parenting Stress during Covid-19
Working from home is stressful. Homeschooling kids is stressful. Disruption to our typical routines is stressful. Worrying about getting sick is stressful. Isolation and being cut off from our support systems is stressful. Parenting is never easy, but is especially difficult in the wake of this pandemic. These tips can be small ways to help cope with the challenges of parenting in the current environment:
1) Schedule yourself small breaks. Literally add a few 5 minute breaks into your schedule the same way you schedule meetings with work. Use these breaks to re-center, to check in with yourself, and to give yourself solitude. Ask yourself, "How am I feeling in this moment? What do I need to reset? How can I offer myself kindness in this moment?" Validate the emotions you notice, and give yourself permission to feel them. Try 1-2 minute grounding exercises like cadenced breathing, a simple body scan, a guided meditation, or listen to 3 minute song that makes you feel good. Breaks don't have to be long to be effective and the act of giving yourself this physical and emotional space can make a huge difference.
2) Forgive yourself & change your expectations. Things are not okay right now. Things are not normal right now. Remind yourself often that you are doing the best you can and that it is impossible for everyone's needs to be met in the way they were before. It is okay and makes sense that you are frustrated, that your kids are frustrated, and that you all may not be as productive as you were before. It is okay the academics are not where they would have been if your kids were in the classroom. Kids need love, support, and the skills to cope with adversity far more than they need the book learning right now. Make small goals and celebrate when you achieve them.
3) Make space for PLAY. Kids are hurting, and so are we. Everyone is grieving the loss of life before quarantine. Engage your kids in play -- this will help them communicate in a way that makes sense to them and will help you connect with them. Play allows us to release, even as adults. Play brings JOY and joy fights stress. Let yourself laugh with your kids.
4) Practice mindful minutes with your kids. Introduce mindful minutes to your kids if you haven't already as a way to to connect to the present moment in a fun way. Practice a new mindful daily that your kids can access as tools when they are frustrated or anxious later on. Examples include "breathe like a bee", "magnetic hands", and "dissolve a thought". Descriptions are included in this article (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/a-mindful-minute-3-fun-mi_b_6392226). Doing this with your children will not only help them cope with difficult emotions, but will also help you have less time managing their stress -- this will ultimately lead to less stress for you. An added bonus is that it's a fun way to connect to your kids, and these techniques are great practice for adults too.
5) Connect with your friends. Schedule virtual play dates for your kids while you spend virtual time with your friends. You may not have the in person support you used to, but don't forget to connect to the people who help you.