7 Ways To Manage Stress To Be a Better Parent

"The biggest struggle for me right now – holding it together so my kids don’t see how scared I really am."

Getty Images
Getty Images

As Co-Founder of a company that makes cleaning tools, I am certainly no less busy during the coronavirus crisis. In fact, we’re a company that prides ourselves on creativity and moving quickly so we’ve been busy working on some pretty big changes the last few weeks. This would be a challenge (albeit a fun one) in a normal office setting, but that’s not what’s happening. The biggest challenge for me has been managing my own anxiety so that I can be my best self for my company and my family. 

The first two weeks of work from home were an adjustment. We still had our nanny so my husband and I set up our own workspaces, I made a schedule for the kids’ day, we said goodbye in the morning and minus a few naked kids running in on conference calls, we had a full work day and then family dinner every night. I was appreciating that this act of God forced us to slow down and just be together.  Then things started to get pretty intense in the NYC area. More people in my small town were falling ill.

Our new world is much less darling.  My husband and I split the day in half. One works 8-1, the other 1-6. This is how we’re doing our very best to give our kids the full attention they need and deserve while attempting to be present and give the same amount of time to our businesses. We are one of those households with very strict, very limited screen time rules and are struggling with all of school being moved online. My kids are 6 (first grade) and 4 (preschool), so the amount and level of workload is very manageable. But we still feel stressed out that they aren’t getting nearly the same level of instruction, too much time watching TV, and that we’re constantly distracted by work.

We have stress about this, the virus’s effect on people, our friends that work in healthcare, our parents and family, the economy – the list goes on.  We do our best to speak logically about it all to our children, but the biggest struggle for me right now – holding it together so my kids don’t see how scared I really am. I truly think the worst thing I could do is put my stress on them, so here is what I am doing to try and manage it. 

  • Talking to my husband and friends about my feelings. Don’t hold it all in. You are not doing yourself or them any favors. 
  • Write. I’m not someone who journals but a good friend suggested I write down what makes me feel anxious and then what I am doing to address it.  
  • Exercise. When I am on kid duty, we are doing exercise videos, making ninja courses in the back yard, they ride bikes while I run. You need the blood flow and endorphins to get through this.   
  • When you’re at work be at work.  As a mom it’s really hard to hear the arguments, the sibling brawls, the boo-boos, and not get involved. It’s really hard not to jump in to try to help. My limited work time is mine and I need to respect it. That way when I am with my kids, I try to keep the same mindset, my time with them is theirs. 
  • Forgive yourself. Your kids are probably going to watch more TV. You don’t have to be the mom that comes up with amazing crafts. You just need to take care of your family’s basic human needs and share love. I have moments of happiness where I feel like I dealt with my top priorities for the day and can now focus on my kids, and moments of fog and fatigue where everything is wrapped up together. There will be ups and downs. You are doing great, mama. 
  • Fill your bucket. You don’t have to do any of the things above unless you want to. Find something that brings you personal joy that has nothing to do with work or family.  For me, I love the creative outlet that cooking provides. 
  • Come up with a mantra. You have to find something that speaks to you. It doesn’t have to be complicated or poetic, but it has to be something that can have an effect on you when it needs to. When I’m at my worst I repeat: We are healthy. We are together. It just simplifies everything for me. 
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