My hometown of Seattle was the first major city to be hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the beginning of March, I celebrated my birthday with lunch and a few IPAs with my husband. By the time my husband’s birthday came ten days later, we were on a lockdown with our two school-aged children distance learning.
It was fast.
And slowly, as the time stretched on, it became clear that this would not end anytime soon. As I write now, my children are learning in the basement, as I work from my *new* home office (a table in my bedroom). It’s Fall. We are nearing 8 months of this. And the wave of viral infections is skyrocketing, meaning this is not going away.
I have been asked a lot lately what parents can do, what pandemic parenting is, and how we can continue to slog through this moment in time. Parents are worried – rightly so – about the long-term effects of this.
How can parents help their children in the pandemic?
I think the big thing to point out is, what is required to be a good pandemic parent is no different than what is required of non-pandemic parents. The skills that are required of good parenting are the exact same as they were before the pandemic. We need to be loving and kind to our children. We need to set up a structure at home and support our children to succeed in that structure. We need to be attentive to our children’s current needs and adapt accordingly.
What is different about parenting in a pandemic is that we are being asked to parent under overwhelming personal, professional, social, and family stress.
It is hard to be loving and kind to your children when you are stressed.
It is hard to set structure and support your children when the structure of work/childcare/and school have shifted so dramatically, so quickly, and are constantly evolving.
It is hard to be attentive to your children when you have so many things on your plate.
The fall spike of cases seems to be upon us, and in any news cycle, cities and states are instituting new rules to try to keep the virus from spreading.
This means we have a long way to go.
Can we survive this without damaging our children or our family dynamic? Is there a way to thrive in this? Can we set up our families and children to come out stronger and smarter on the other side?
I think the answer to all of these is yes.
But you do have to make change. We must take action to ensure that we are ready to be the best parents we can be under extremely difficult circumstances.
As we enter the most challenging time in this pandemic to-date, you need to start today.
These 5 simple things add up to a better state of mind for you and your family. It allows you to maximize your coping mechanisms, so you can be attentive to your family and their needs. If you do these things, you will be setting yourself up to be the best pandemic parent you possibly can be.
We have a way to go until the stress of the pandemic subsides. But taking time to practice these five strategies will improve your pandemic parenting, and your own mental health.
I am an award-winning scientist, educator, author, and a mom. I help parents accomplish their goals for themselves and their families.
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