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Monday, May 25, 2020

Pandemic Parenting: 7 Tips for Maintaining the Calm During These Overwhelming Times

Photo by Daniela Dimitrova (pixabay)

Life has a lot of fear and uncertainty at the moment. Most of us have seen our lives radically change over the last months. Perhaps more than anyone else, children have been impacted. School went digital and ended months ahead of schedule, play dates vanished, and some children aren't even able to visit extended family members. Parenting through the pandemic is incredibly challenging. Some parents struggle with the fact that no one in the household ever leaves home; others are dealing with trying to homeschool and provide childcare while still working. No matter what your life looks like at this moment in time, there are things you can do to maintain calm in your home for your children during this time.

1. Try to stay active with workout videos, socially distanced walks, bike rides, etc. Exercise can help the whole family stay calm and grounded.

Photo by RENE RAUSCHENBERGER (pixabay)

Physical activity reduces stress, tension, anger, anxiety, and depression. These are things most of us are trying to cope with right now. It also can improve sleep, and quality of sleep is essential in times of stress. So make time as a family for socially distanced exercise. It's the perfect time to make your yard into the playground of your dreams. Contact outdoor play equipment companies and stores for ideas.

2. Try to establish a routine, but be kind and forgiving to yourself if things don't go according to plan.

Photo by StockSnap (pixabay)

Many of us are struggling with a lack of external structure. Children don't need to be at school at a specific time, appointments are canceled, and activities curtailed. Does this mean bedtime and other routines can be set aside? During times of uncertainty, everyone, but especially children, need a sense of order. A predictable routine is key to a calm day. Come up with your own schedule. Everyone up at by this time, schoolwork for however long, chore time, reading time, outdoor play, free play, et cetera should all be considered. If one day goes sideways and the routine is forgotten, forgive yourself and move on.

3. Practice deep breathing. Before reacting to a stressor, ask yourself, "Does the problem pose an immediate danger? How will I feel about this tomorrow?"

Photo by Anastasia Gepp (pixabay)

Everyone is on edge. Young children probably don't have the insight or vocabulary to describe what they are feeling about their world changing and the stress they are picking up on from other people in their lives. Their stress might manifest as anxiety or inappropriate behavior. Older kids and teenagers are dealing with feelings of loss over anticipated events and milestones, and might be more irritable than usual. Some days, grouchy children are enough to send any overwhelmed parent over the edge. Instead of reacting, take a moment to take a breath and dispassionately evaluate the situation before you say or do anything.

4. Answer children's questions about the pandemic and the impact on their lives calmly and honestly.

Photo by Pezibear (pixabay)

The most important thing parents can do is to cultivate an environment where kids feel they can ask questions in a stress-free environment. We all want to shield our children, but the pandemic is impacting their lives, and knowledge can help assuage their fears. Empowering children with age-appropriate information also gives them the insight they need about hygiene, and teaches them coping skills for their future.

5. Incorporate daily praise.

Photo by Olya Adamovich (pixabay)

One of the best ways to ensure a calm, peaceful household is to dole out lots of praise. Praise is highly effective at changing bad behaviors and reinforcing positive behaviors. When praising your children, be specific. That lets them know precisely what you are happy with about their actions. Tell them what a great job they did staying quiet while you were on a video-conference call, or tell them how nicely they cleaned up their art supplies.

6. Set aside time for each child.

Photo by marcisim (pixabay)

Since everyone is spending so much time together, it's easy to forget the importance of making sure everyone is getting adequate one-on-one time. Carve out specific time for each child, and let them take the lead on how they would like to spend it with you. Your outdoorsy kid might want to play on the playground equipment, while your bookish kid might want dedicated story time.

7. Incorporate appropriate socialization.

Photo by StockSnap (pixabay)

School ended early, organized activities are on pause, and even play dates are rare. Just because kids aren't able to see their friends, doesn't mean they aren't missing their friends. And the same is true for adults! So set up some pandemic proof socialization! Schedule video chats, phone calls, or even every stays six feet apart outdoor walking dates so everyone can get in some time with their friends.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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