A father feeling stressed while taking care of his child.
Healthy Living

Navigating Parental Stress During COVID-19

Jul 9 2020

Our lives been turned upside down since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for young families. With everyone spending more time at home, parents are being forced to wear many hats – caregiver, chef and employee. This pandemic has also brought other stresses to our lives including financial uncertainty and constant multitasking, as well as the fear of the unknown with this new virus.

Are you a parent who is struggling with stress during COVID-19? First and foremost, it is important to know that you are not alone. This is a very difficult time for many. We have some great tips to help you navigate this “new normal” while keeping your mental health top of mind.

Take care of the basics

Strive to focus on each of these basic needs every day.

  • Food. Energize your body with the healthy nutrients it needs to get through the day. Focus on incorporating as many fruits, vegetables and lean protein as you can into each meal.
  • Sleep. Aim to get seven to eight hours per night. Also, try to go to bed and get up at the same times each day.
  • Exercise. Activity is great for both your physical and mental health. Try sprinkling some quick at-home workouts throughout your day if you are on a time crunch.
  • Silence. Go into a room and spend some quiet time alone. You can read a book or meditate. Whatever you do during this time, aim to do it for at least 10 minutes per day.

Use your helpers

It is important to realize that you don’t have to take on this new way of life alone. Ask for help if you need it. This could be leaning on your spouse or partner more than usual.

It could also be empowering an older child and giving them new responsibilities around the house. Finding age-appropriate ways your kids can help the overall family will also allow them to learn important life skills.

Stay connected to your village

We’ve all heard the phrase “it takes a village” when it comes to raising children. While COVID-19 has cut down on the amount of time you spend in-person with your loved ones, that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with them virtually.

Have your kids video chat with family and friends multiple times a week. Did you enjoy having a book club with your friends prior to the pandemic? Keep it going virtually as a way to have some regularly scheduled adult time.

If you have friends with younger children who are in the same boat as you during this time, find ways you can all support each other from a distance. One idea would be to set up a rotating meal train. That way you can occasionally take the burden of cooking dinner off each other.

Acknowledge your feelings, don’t hide them

Kids have a way of picking up on the stress levels of their parents, even when parents do their best to hide them. And just like COVID-19, emotions, including stress, can be contagious.

Set up an open-door policy in your household during this time when it comes to emotions. Take time as a family to talk about your days and be sure everyone has a chance to share. With your kids, use age-appropriate phrases such as “it’s okay to not feel okay right now.” With your partner or spouse, make sure you are regularly checking in with one another and discuss any issues.

If you continue to struggle with your stress during this time, there are many online therapy options available. Thanks to the internet, you can even have regular sessions with a therapist without leaving the house. Research your options.

Just remember that it is critical for you to take care of yourself during COVID-19. As a parent, when you put yourself first you are helping to create a healthy and stable environment for your kids during this chaotic time.

Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.

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