By now, many of us are adapting to a ‘new normal’, which would have been unimaginable six months ago. Many parents have had to become teachers, all the while working their regular jobs under unusual and often stressful circumstances. Now, some parents are returning to the office, while their children are still home from school… and daycares are closed! We know that the situation can feel overwhelming. So here are some tips for parenting in a pandemic.
You’re not the only one who may be feeling overwhelmed. Your kids may be experiencing a range of worries that can vary widely depending on their ages. And, even if you’ve discussed COVID-19 already, one conversation is not enough. Regular communication plays an important role in helping children feel heard and separating the facts from fiction. The CDC has released helpful tips for talking to your kids about the pandemic – remember to remain calm and reassure children that they are safe.
It’s unrealistic to expect children to rigidly follow their old school timetable. But the pandemic doesn’t mean that they should go to bed at 2:00 am and get up when they feel like it either. Routine will help create a reassuring structure in children’s lives. If your kids are old enough, you can work on a timetable together and stick it up in a prominent place. Remember, you don’t need to schedule every hour – children need time to relax, just like you!
We all know the many benefits of exercise – it reduces stress, helps us sleep better, and protects our memory and thinking skills. Your kids may be experiencing a more sedentary lifestyle due to the pandemic. Let their routine incorporate exercise that is appropriate for their age. You can even exercise together as a family.
Many of us will not have a room in our house to convert into a classroom. However, you can set up a dedicated workstation for your children. Psychologically, when they sit in this spot, they will know that they are preparing to work.
Maybe you and your partner have been working from home for months and now one or both of you will be returning to the office. It’s extremely important that you put all the tips above into action. Communicate with children so that they’re prepared for another change. Let them know that you expect them to maintain their routines and utilize their workstations while you’re gone.
Now, we know that you may be panicking about returning to work while schools and daycares are closed. If possible, talk to your partner or other family members about childcare solutions. If family members agree to babysit, ensure that they know about children’s routines and workstations. If you have limited childcare options, you could have a conversation with your boss to determine whether you can work remotely on some days until schools/ daycares are back open.
If children are supposed to sit major exams soon, they may be even more anxious and uncertain. Try not to add to the pressure, even by making offhand comments about how hard exams can be. Instead, you need to pay even more attention to creating an appropriate study routine. You should also watch for signs of stress like recurrent headaches, irritability, or loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. If your child is very stressed, it’s time to go back to tip number one: communicate. Help them to adjust expectations and tell them that you’re proud of the way they’re studying despite the challenges. Work with them to make time for relaxation; it can even be helpful to practice meditation together to get their mind off exams.
Yes, you’re a parent and a caregiver. But you also need care. You’re encouraging your children to make time to relax and you should do the same. Relaxation looks different for each of us – maybe you read a book or ask your partner to rub your feet. Whatever you do, caring for yourself will prevent burnout and help you to take even better care of your little ones.
Whether you’ve got a six-year-old or three teenagers, this would have been a tough time for your family. Maybe this moment has shown you how resilient you and your kids are. Hopefully, these tips can help you to create an even better environment for your family.