When you’re balancing work, childcare, and household duties, it can be easy for self-care and mindfulness to be the first things cut from your family’s to-do list. And while the exhaustion is real, it’s crucial that families find time within their day to unwind, unplug, and connect with each other. So how can you and your family prioritize your own health and well-being in the midst of a pandemic?
Prevent burnout and nurture positive relationships with your children so you can feel well-rested and ready to take on the day—and your to-do list—with these five helpful tips.
1. Leverage What is Working
Instead of focusing on things that aren’t working well right now, try to focus on what is working. Whether it’s becoming increasingly adept at multitasking or finally getting your child into a solid sleep routine, taking note of the small wins every day can help families focus on the good that is happening as a result of this extended time at home together. Reframe your thinking and throw your pre-pandemic standards to the wayside, all families are figuring this out as they go and it’s smart to adjust your expectations.
2. Introduce a New Routine or Ritual
While your regular routines are on hold, consider introducing and implementing new ones in your family. It could be something as simple as having breakfast for dinner every Monday or playing cards in your pajamas on a Friday night. Hone in on rituals that are easy to pull off and don’t add additional stress, and consider how a new routine translates into your family’s values. For instance, if adventure is a value that your family holds dear, build experiences around that. Plan a bike ride on a new trail, pitch a tent in the backyard (or your living room), or take a family hike.
3. Check In with Each Other Often
During this unusual time, check in with the kids and adults in your family regularly. Oftentimes, parents will put their own well-being after their children's, but it’s important to remember that we all have feelings and needs that are in flux at the moment. Notice which situations tend to make you and/or your child anxious, scared, or upset, and find ways to mitigate those feelings. If scrolling through Twitter after bedtime is leaving your mind feeling more anxious than rested, limit screen time for yourself. If you’ve noticed your child is becoming despondent from lack of social interaction, offer to set up a video chat session with their friends. When parents use this noticing approach, it can help them be more centered, balanced, and grounded for their kids.
4. Take Advantage of Telehealth
Instead of browsing WebMD in the early morning hours, take advantage of telehealth from the safety of your kitchen table. If you’re concerned about regression or think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, schedule a telehealth appointment with your provider to come up with a plan. Pediatricians can share helpful resources and provide insight on development, milestones, and behaviors. Therapists can help families find coping mechanisms and offer strategies for dealing with stress. Trust your intuition when it comes to your family’s health and wellness, and be proactive about seeking help when necessary.
5. Remember Panic is Contagious
When parents panic, kids tend to do the same. Panic can disrupt the entire family system and breed feelings of unrest, so putting measures in place to calm yourself down when panic strikes can be extremely helpful. Employ breathing techniques, take a family walk, or step outside (and away from screens) into the fresh air to reset when you feel panic creeping in. Modeling how to manage unpleasant feelings in front of your children shows them that experiencing different emotions is a normal part of life, and that they too can equip themselves with strategies and skills to manage them.
Is the social-emotional health of your child of utmost importance to you? Do you want your child to attend a school that prioritizes every child’s mental and physical health?