You love your children more than anything
Let’s face it, parenting during the pandemic is a new challenge. Spending every waking moment with your children can be exhausting to your mental health. Even the most proactive, energetic parents might struggle with the pressures of keeping their children occupied, stimulated, and happy. This daily balance becomes even more difficult when your days begin to look and feel like a glitch in the matrix.
Advice for Quarantine Parenting
The good news is you don’t have to be Marry Poppins to love your children during the COVID-19 outbreak, says Odette Tomlinson, Licensed Professional Therapist and Clinical Director of The Parenting Center in Fort Worth.
“You have to be flexible,” she said. “Don’t compare the way things are now to your old way of life. We’re in a unique situation, and we all have to adapt to the new normal. Accept that whatever you can get done is enough.”
The important thing is to stay connected with your kiddos, she continued. Their lives are disrupted, too. Depending on their age, they may not fully understand why they’re not going to school or to their grandparents’ house. What kids do understand is the quality time you spend with them. Sometimes that connection can just involve engaging in active listening around the breakfast table or asking your kid what he or she is watching on TV.
“Don’t compare the way things are now to your old way of life.” — Odette Tomlinson
For young children, Tomlinson and other mental health professionals recommend allowing your kids room for free play, indoors and out. Activities that involve the entire family, such as puzzles, board games, and coloring can also keep your children occupied and feeling a sense of togetherness. Older kids whose classes have shifted online might appreciate you checking their homework or reading and discussing the same books they are studying. Try to relax your rules on limiting screen time for teens and preteens, since this is one way they feel connected to their peers.
Maintain Your Sanity During Shelter-in-Place
Part of loving your kids during the quarantine is keeping your own sanity. As work becomes increasingly difficult to balance with your parental duties, Dallas-based psychologist Peter Thomas stresses the importance of routine to his adult and child patients.
“It’s likely impossible to still have the same routine you had before, but even having other things to do can help out a lot,” he said.
Household Mental Health Tips
- Keep your schedule the same. Try not to stay up later just because you can sleep in.
- Eat meals around the same time every day.
- Walk your dog routinely at the same time.
- Call or connect with family and friends –– set a regular day and time to video chat.
There’s no rule book for parenting during the pandemic, but with a little self-forgiveness, flexibility, and a few healthy habits, your family will emerge closer and healthier. For more parenting resources, visit the Parenting Center’s Website.