It’s the last week of March and your child is on Spring Break. Because of COVID-19, every school has gone virtual and your child now must be educated completely online. Your child is home, you are home, and your spouse is home…working remotely or recently laid off. And now you must homeschool your child.
This seems like a really, really bad dream. And now, it is your current reality. Disclaimer: I am not a parent (yet). However, I have a doctorate in clinical psychology and have helped parents during times of crisis and chaos. Keep reading for tips on how to reduce your stress and your child’s stress through this time of uncertainty.
Be a “Good Enough” Parent
I know that parents want their children to receive the best education and finish the school year off strong. They also want to achieve their own goals, such as working even harder at work to get that promotion. However, COVID-19 has posed challenges for most parents at this point- like, how to homeschool their child when they never signed up for this task.
This may be a good month to practice being a “good enough” parent. You don’t have to be perfect. Your child will likely not learn everything they were supposed to this year, and they will likely be okay.
Manage Your Expectations
This is probably not the time to increase the expectations of your children. Whatever the case may be, now is time to perhaps give up on the fight of bedtime and eating healthy vegetables.
It is okay to choose your battles because anyone living in this close of quarters during this stressful time will be more on edge and irritable. You don’t want to enforce rules about how much screen time they get this week? That’s okay.
To some extent, the structure will help provide consistency for your child and this is something they can exert control over in times when there is little to control. Work with your child to set up a routine- when do they want to have their screen time/homework time/ making brownie time? Involve them as much as possible in this process.
Self-Care, even for you Mom & Dad!
Yes, you deserve a walk around the block, 30 minutes of exercise, or even a glass of wine. Constant stress can get in the way of you being the most effective parent. Here are a few ideas on how to self-soothe without needing to leave the couch.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Squeeze your hands into a fist. Take a deep breath in for 5 seconds, squeezing your hands tightly, and take a deep breath out for 8 seconds, completely relaxing your hands. Notice this relaxation for another 10 seconds. *move onto different body parts, continuing the same process*
Use your 5 senses to improve the moment. Find what works for you to improve your mood for the moment. Smell essential oils, slather yourself in lotion, eat your favorite piece of chocolate, listen to your favorite song, or drive with your windows down are just a few examples. Commit to practice at least 1 self-soothing exercise a day.
During the pandemic, your buttons will likely be tested. Normalizing how difficult this time is for most parents may be helpful. You are not expected to do everything right, to teach them everything they need to know, and to land that job promotion this month. Take a step back, and prioritize the three most important factors to you and your family for the next 2 weeks. You may not check everything off on your list so managing expectations and practicing your own self-care will help you tolerate the current chaos.