As a parent, it’s important to practice self-care first if you want to be ready to help others. It’s difficult to take care of others’ needs if we don’t manage our own well-being first. Once you feel more grounded, helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger, and you can start a chain reaction of resilience! Here are some tips to help from the CDC on how to cope with stress during this time:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy, and try to include kids’ routine when it makes sense. For example, you can use cooking to teach math using the recipes, or yard work can teach kids about nature. Learning can be fun and doing things you enjoy can help everyone stay relaxed.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Temper your expectations and be kind to yourself. No one was prepared for this, let yourself feel all your feelings and forgive yourself if the house is messy and the laundry is piling up. If additional screen time is what you need to get through the day, forgive yourself. (Here are some more tips on managing safe online behavior: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/technology-and-kids/keeping-kids-safe-online.html)
- Embrace flexibility. Create a schedule and try to stick with it because kids thrive on routine, but if it does not work out, its okay!
- Find healthy ways to stay informed. Remember social media can provide social support, but it might not be the most reliable when it comes to news, especially about the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you talk to friends and family about how you are feeling.
- Try to remember what it is like to be a kid and see the world through their eyes. Do you remember how cool it was when your parents did spontaneous things with you? Roast marshmallows on the BBQ, go “camping” in the living room, make a pillow fort, or create a nature scavenger hunt!
Remember, children can pick up on your own emotions and energy, and a big part of managing a family’s stress or is managing your own. Pay attention to your feelings and remember to take care of yourself. Stay active; dance and move around there are plenty of health focused apps or free work outs on YouTube. This blog from Common Sense Media has a ton or resources for your mental health.
Again, please remember to practice self-care! You cannot take care of your children if you are not taking care of yourself.