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Self-Care for Parents During COVID-19

mother-and-children-playing-on-tablet

By Laurie Herrick, Preventionist

It has been about five months since schools and offices went virtual and the COVID-19 quarantine began. Many parents juggled working from home while assisting their kids with distance learning. 

Navigating the new normal of living during a pandemic can cause parents to feel a mix of emotions. Each day of working from home with my 10-year-old daughter brought with it new challenges, but I am thankful for the time I have been able to spend with her. Some days would run smoothly, where seemingly everything came together quite nicely. But there were other days when there were overlapping Zoom meetings and homework problems I didn't understand. And of course, there were days when we both missed seeing our friends, and connecting via Zoom or FaceTime didn't always provide the closeness we were looking for.

As parents, we worry about our kids and want to ensure that their needs are being met. But, it is also important to remember that we need to take care of ourselves.

Self-care tips for parents during the pandemic

Aside from following the CDC health guidelines of wearing a mask and social-distancing, there are a few things parents can do to practice self-care during COVID-19.

1. Prioritize physical health and activity.

Physical care is important, especially when many of us are working from home and traveling less. This includes eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. 

Each day you should aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes. This could mean going for a walk or doing yoga. Others may feel comfortable doing a more intense training. There are some fitness centers that are holding virtual classes or outdoor workouts. Getting fresh air and spending time outside is good for both physical and mental health.

2. Establish a routine for yourself and your family.

Routines are good for mental health and especially helpful with children because they allow everyone in the house to know what to expect. There may be days when the routine cannot be followed, and that's okay. Continue to try to stick with it and change things when needed.

3. Have regular family meetings. 

Family meetings are an effective way to have discussions about rules of the house and touching base on how each person is feeling. It is important to set ground rules for each meeting. At each meeting you can review the family calendar, make a chore chart, or discuss time limits for electronics.

4. Focus on what you can control.

It is essential that you focus on the present and things you can control. There are things that can happen each day, such as no internet access or rain that can ruin your planned park day, which you have no control over. In these cases you may have to improvise or have a quick change backup plan.

5. Limit your news consumption.

With so many negative news stories out there, you may want to limit exposure to news, only turning to one or two reliable news sources. Instead, spend your time keeping in touch with your friends and family through Zoom or FaceTime. Make time for things you enjoy, such as listening to music or reading books. Some libraries are starting to reopen and are offering holds on books with curbside pickups. Find ways to help within your community such as donating blood or collecting food for a local food bank. These will help you focus on the people in your community who need help.

6. Exercise self-compassion.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. What we are experiencing is new for everyone and you need to do what you are comfortable with. If you find yourself feeling constantly anxious or overwhelmed, reach out to a health professional in your area or contact your insurance company about telehealth visits.

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