While healthcare professionals and community workers have been identified as today’s new heroes, parents have also gained special recognition for their well deserved resilience in balancing their professional lives with the unprecedented demands of homeschooling their children, caring for their households and so much more. Even before these challenges, parenting was already a full time job but now that society has turned upside down, parents all around the world have justified the cause for why National Parents Day (July 25th) is extremely important to remember.
That is why we wanted to give parents some resources and ideas for how to best manage their children during the recovery of a global pandemic in addition to offering some advice on ways to improve your own mental health, so that you can best take care of yourself in order to keep providing for those you love. Learn more about the history of National Parents Day.
Foster Healthy Habits
Use this time during COVID to teach your kids the benefits of healthy hygiene not just during a pandemic but all the time. Encourage proactive hand-washing and promote the importance of practicing safe social distancing (when applicable). If you instill habits early on such as touching their face less, covering their mouth and being more cautious about how they interact with others, everyone will benefit from a healthier environment.
Visit these websites to learn how to motivate your kids to make healthy lifestyle choices:
Promote Creative Playtime
For parents with younger children, it is critical to engage them with interactive activities that help boost creativity and stimulate their social development (especially after the effects of extended periods at home). Make everything a learning experience by instilling them with curiosity and probing questions about everyday things. It is also important to get them excited about going outside and playing in the fresh air when possible, so that they do not feel stuck in one space for too long. Check out this extensive list of simple but fun activities from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Encourage Open Dialogue
Especially for teenagers who are missing their friends and have struggled to cope with the “new normal”, make sure you actively listen to their feelings whether it be loneliness, frustration, anger or disappointment. By proactively sympathizing with them, you can establish a trustworthy relationship that encourages both open conversation as well as honest discussion about their fears, concerns and questions regarding the CoronaVirus. For more detailed information on how to handle young adolescents during such a challenging time, read this list of resources from childmind.org that covers a variety of topics from sibling rivalry to mindfulness best practices.
Stick To Daily Routines
Help enforce a sense of normalcy through a regulated daily schedule of activities. Whether it be a morning hygiene regimen or a systematic pattern of events throughout the day, it is important to create some sort of structure in your children’s lives during a time, like now, when everyday life has been disrupted and is just starting to regain familiarity again. This source from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital offers tips and tricks on how to effectively set a routine in place for parents and kids of all ages.
Prioritize Mental Health
Although this past year has been challenging, one positive outcome from COVID has been the improved awareness of mental health as well as the influx of resources that have been made readily available to those who are struggling with anxiety and/or depression. Now more than ever, mental health is an important topic to cover with your children as it is necessary for them to understand that their feelings are validated and that they are always welcome to express themselves. On the other hand, the same applies for adults who may feel overwhelmed with the increasing demands of parenting, working from home or even just coping with the uncertainties of the CoronaVirus itself. Make sure to breathe and effectively take care of yourself so that you have enough capacity to take care of others who need you.
Explore these mental health guides on how to support yourself mentally in addition to helping your kids process the defeat and disappointment of not being able to do certain things they used to before the pandemic:
As society continues to adapt and evolve, make sure your children understand the few risks that are still prevalent and prepare them to be agile for what may come in the future. While it is important for them to know that they are not being punished, you should also discuss the basics of what the CoronaVirus is and why it may affect them. Address their fears and acknowledge their feelings of frustration by openly communicating about their questions and concerns. Here are some tips from the CDC to help stimulate these conversations.
Offer Healthy Distractions
While staying at home was inevitable during a pandemic and we are just starting to resume social activities, it doesn’t mean you’re limited to television, electronics and video games. Try to limit your children’s screen exposure by enforcing rules about phones during family time or video games after certain hours of the day. Also, be sure to provide distractions that keep your children from being too heavily consumed with the negativity of the news and panic of the public.