When the cases of COVID-19 first emerged in December 2019, nobody would’ve thought that it would soon turn into a pandemic. It is a disease that affects so many people worldwide that measures such as social distancing and self-quarantine have to be implemented. There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has made the year 2020 a year that everyone will surely remember.
For parents, the events caused by the pandemic are nothing short of overwhelming. They now have to face the stress caused by jobs at halt, as well as the responsibilities of making sure everyone at home is healthy and safe. We have to change our lifestyles in order to follow the measures set by the experts and the government. However, we also have to be strong for our children who are dependent on us in this difficult time.
So how can parents face the challenges in the pandemic? I believe the first step is to diffuse the panic. Many people online are getting criticized for their different takes during this time, but I understand why some choose to normalize the situation instead.
This doesn’t mean that we are acting blind to the severity and seriousness of the situation. But as parents, we have to be strong and calm for our children. The last thing that you want is to have your kids pick up your worries and panic.
They look to us as their source of strength and that everything is going to be alright. Don’t get me wrong; this way of thinking is different from lying to your kids. Instead, it’s about choosing the proper response and actions during this situation.
You can practice a calm mindset by only dealing with factual news and reports. Nowadays, because access to the internet is in the palm of our hands, it’s easy to mistake fake news as factual news. Unfortunately, there are people out there that thrive on the worries, anxiety, and anger of the mob, which is why they spread different “news.” Try your best to limit your children’s time in front of screens.
It’s normal that we spend a lot of time talking about the pandemic in our households. After all, we haven’t been through something extreme and fast-spreading before. However, we want to reassure our children that with precaution, compassion, and cooperation, we can protect those vulnerable to the virus. And that it is still possible for the people who tested positive to recover. Find the healthy middle ground between being realistic but also calm.
Even if there is a pandemic or not, it is a fact that no matter how distant or strong your child may act, he/she still needs comforting. Ask your kids how they are feeling and what is troubling them. They might not be at the same level of stress that you are. And understandably, it’s easy to get frustrated that your kids are sad about prom being cancelled.
If compared to you, you are stressed about your employer, who refuses to adjust your payroll. Regardless, both of the adults and kids in households feel like a lot is weighing on them. Empathy and reassurance for both sides go a long way. Especially that you only have each other at the moment, and you’re “stuck” together. Make your home a safe place, not just against the virus but also as a place where people can show their emotions.
Stick to a Structure
Now that you have a mentality in place, the next thing that you can do, especially at home, is sticking to a structure. Unfortunately, the limitations that we have to practice won’t allow us to do the things we used to do. We can no longer travel or visit shops, salons, and restaurants spontaneously. Our daily duties are deduced to only the essentials, but it’s a reality we have to follow if we want to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
We don’t have to be scared of the structure and how it will feel robotic. If you look at it, you can find comfort in having a structure compared to living in panic and uncertainty. Your kids might see that you are working at home, you can spend time with the family, and you can create lessons to allow your kids to study. If everyone notices that the other people at home are being responsible, it can inspire them to be resourceful with their time too.
Set a time where everybody is working. This can mean that nobody can disturb mom or dad when they are on their laptops, and kids have to attend their online lessons after lunch. You can also set a time where everyone can let loose and just watch TV, eat, or sleep. You can search for online activities such as cooking or maybe let them join your hobbies like sewing or woodworking. Notice how the latter are not as limiting and robotic? It’s important that you have time for leisure too.
And speaking of structure, you want to make sure that everyone is practicing protective measures and proper hygiene at home. This includes having a stock of alcohol, tissue paper, soap, and face masks to help prevent contracting and spreading the virus. And if you are using wipes for your baby, it’ll be more hygienic to use a baby wipes dispenser so that the remaining batch won’t get contaminated or exposed to the air.
Make it a habit to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face. At the same time, do not be afraid of contacting your doctor if you notice symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, and cough. But even if you are not experiencing any sign, I think it is our responsibility to self-quarantine and follow the rules such as curfew to minimize the spreading of the virus and risk of exposure.
Check on Yourself
Lastly, even though you are the rock of your children, it is also important that you look after your own well-being as well. Know your rights as an employer and do not sacrifice your health and mental wellness. It is okay to seek support from friends and family because you won’t be able to look after your children if you are not okay too.
Perfectionism and pride are not going to be helpful during this time. I know that it feels overwhelming, scary, and uncomfortable. But take comfort in your family and support each other. After all, humans never fail to prove their resilience. I am looking forward to the time where we’ll just read about 2020 and be reminded of how we conquered it. Stay safe and wash your hands right now!