As we continue to keep as normal of a routine as possible during these challenging times, that doesn’t mean we don’t struggle from time to time. As parents balancing this new normal, here are some tips to help you navigate your new life-at-home balance.
If you’re feeling like your work, home, and family life is going completely off the rails or you’re not able to catch your breath: Stop. Take a moment and reassess! Ask yourself these questions:
- What has been causing the most stress at this moment?
- Can that be fixed right now or with time?
- What will be our first step in the right direction?
It’s okay if your initial plan of action didn’t go the way you wanted, but don’t let it keep you down. Perhaps writing a list of next steps and goals could help get things on track. Also talking to your family about how they can help create a plan-of-action together that works for everyone. For example, say you have a big family and your older kids could help with your morning routine with the little ones. In return, they get to stay up an hour more on the weekdays before bedtime.
Just remember you can only do the best you can. Adjust when you need to and don’t beat yourself up when you have to do so. Remember that if you feel like your spinning, it’s okay to stop what you doing, place your feet solid on the ground, and take a new step forward.
Physical Health & Health Habits
Getting back on track may mean adding in time or more time for physical health. That doesn’t mean you need to start exercising like you’re preparing for a marathon! According to a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 15 minutes a day or an hour of walking can reduce the risk of major depression by 26 percent. Regular physical activity is also good for anxiety, relieving tension, and releasing endorphins. It may feel like there’s not enough time, but try to leave room for:
- A healthy amount of sleep (7-8 hours)
- Nutritious meals and snacks
- Excercise (ex. daily walks)
Prioritizing these physical and mental needs will start helping to alleviate the stress you may be feeling!
As parents, we feel like we have to set an example and be a role model for our kids. That amount of pressure on ourselves can motivate great parenting moments, but it can also be harmful to your mental health if you’re not “perfect” at every moment. Here are some communication tips to help your everyday parenting:
- Manage a calm demeanor, as best as you can through stressful times
- Take deep breaths and try to think rationally. Not only does this help your children know how to manage stress, but it gives you some practice to manage your ownmental health too.
- Have honest conversations with your family
- We all have our slip-ups. Our emotions can get the best of us, and that’s okay. “[It’s okay for] children to see their parents cope with stress every now and then, but you want to explain why you reacted in the way that you did,” according to the Child Mind Institute.
- Talk to your therapist or trusted friends and family
- If you find yourself really struggling to cope with stress from this new way of life, that’s okay. If you have a therapist to talk to you, try reaching out or utilizing their resources to help you.
- Another way to relieve some stress is by setting aside time to talk to friends and family. That could be your spouse or partner, or calling your friends to vent!
For more information on how to cope while parenting during COVID-19, visit these extra resources:
- Parenting during Coronavirus
- Talking to Kids about COVID-19
- Family Resources for Remote Learning
- The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor, especially if you’re been struggling with anxiety and/or depression. You can also reach out to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Or visit their website: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline