Parent Self-Care

Seven reminders to help parents navigate the new normal

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Sheltering-in Place at Home
Sheltering-in-Place at Home

Yes, this is an amazingly bizarre time.

Very few people could have imagined that we’d all need to practice social isolation, but it appears this will last a while. Parents in particular have been presented with many challenges. Some are working remotely. Some have lost their jobs. There are some that are in the position of risking their health by needing to go to their essential jobs. All these situations create stress. On top of all the stress, parents now must navigate having their children home full-time.

How can we make it through each day?

Just as flight attendants let people know the importance of putting the oxygen mask on their faces first if there are problems on a flight, the first consideration for parents in this time of crisis is to first take care of themselves. Your family is relying on you so you have to do what you can to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This includes eating as healthy as you can, sleeping at least seven hours a night, taking time to breathe, seeking and giving social support, being kind to yourself and others, establishing a routine for you and your family, and doing your best to find something that will lighten your day.

It’s a juggle.

Here are some thoughts to help you think through the key parts:

1. Meals. Eating healthy for most people means trying your best to add fruits and vegetables to your diet.  As always, it is important to eat as balanced a diet as you can.  You do not have to be perfect. Take one day at a time. One meal at a time.

2. Rest. Sleep is so important because it recharges our brain which is working overtime for most of us right now. Turn your electronic devices off and let your brain rest.  Bedtime routines are as important to parents as to kids.

3. Reflection. Fear and anxiety are rampant right now and the overload of emotions can be exhausting. So, stop for a moment…it is important to take time to recognize that, for the moment, we are okay. A way to do this more intentionally is to sit and breathe and focus on the fact that we are breathing, and our hearts are beating, so we are okay. 

4. Relationships. Social support is crucial during this crisis.  Social distancing or social isolation means we must physically isolate. This does not mean we need to emotionally disconnect. Due to the overwhelming emotions most people are feeling, it is vitally important to give and get social support. Even though people have different circumstances right now, we are all fighting a common foe. Just connecting with others regarding our emotions about this issue can be very validating. As one can see on social media, people are positively coping in a variety of ways—dance parties, lip-syncing and dancing, etc. We can all cope better if we separate physically but stay together emotionally.

5. Conflicts. Be kind to yourself and others. None of us are perfect and with all that is going on in this continuing evolving crisis, we are likely to be on edge and to make more mistakes. Treat yourself with compassion. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your good friends. Allow others latitude. We are all doing the best we can.

6. Schedule. Develop a routine for you and your family. Routines help us feel a bit more in control and control can be comforting because life in this crisis feels chaotic.

7. Laughter. Do your best to find some ways to have some fun especially as a family. 

Of course, in addition to the above, continue to follow the CDC’s prevention guidelines and be safe.

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