Many of you are suddenly now in a role that you hadn’t planned: work-from-home parent, homeschool teacher and chef for an extended period of time. Routines are certainly disrupted amidst the Coronavirus outbreak and everyone is impacted.
Along with personal routines becoming interrupted, this time of uncertainty can raise a lot of overwhelming emotions. While you’re trying to figure out the unknown, you are also trying to help your kids deal with big changes as well.
So how do you find patience as a parent when you’re overwhelmed? Or try to not let your emotions get the best of you when your kids ask a question you don’t know the answer to?
You’re not alone in feeling afraid, emotional, stressed out or even depressed.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to take care of your kids is to start with YOU. Here’s a few tips on how to navigate these sudden transitions as a parent:
#1 Let Go of Perfection
If you’re looking for tips on how to be the perfect parent during this time, stop looking. The first step to relieving stress is giving yourself a break in terms of expectations. Instead, this list focuses on techniques for yourself while staying authentic to the changing circumstances and attuned to your emotions.
#2 Managing the Unknown
If you’re someone who thrives on schedules, now you get to find a new schedule that works for your family! Kids thrive on routine too. Finding a new routine can minimize some unknown’s in your life and curb some frustration over kids asking when things will happen if you can establish a new routine and placing it somewhere everyone can see it. If routines feel stressful to you, try embracing flexibility with your schedule. For example, tell your kids, “everyday we will have learning, fun and exercise time, but we can be flexible each day with how those get done.”.
#3 Soothing Anxiety & Curbing Frustration
As much as your life has changed, so has your child’s and they may not know how to express the anxiety they may be feeling. This means it could be coming out sideways in clinginess or outbursts. It can be easy to get frustrated when this happens, so a proactive way to soothe some of their anxiety (and curb your frustration before it happens) is to add intentional connection each day. Start by brainstorming what activities you enjoy doing with your kids: reading, cooking, massages, crafting, walks, movies, singing, games, snuggles. Then pick what makes sense for you to incorporate over the next week.
#4 Show Your Emotion
It can be easy to feel like you need to hide much of your emotion during this time so your kids don’t see you lose it. Although showing all of your emotion might not be helpful, what emotions are you feeling that you could express that would model that feelings and emotions are normal? Try something like, “I’m feeling really scared right now, and when I’m scared, sometimes I cry. I’m not okay right this minute, but I will be. Can I have a hug?” Inviting your child to give you a hug or a smile allows them to feel like they’re helping you feel better which is important to a child.
#5 Finding Patience
If you’re like any other parent on the planet, patience is plain hard. With kids at home now, you may feel your patience tolerance decreasing by the minute. Sometimes patience is as easy as taking care of yourself through sleep and eating. Other times it may mean when you need to give yourself a time-out. When you’re feeling frustrated with your kids, try a phrase like, “I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to go to my room for a few minutes and come back when I’m cooled down.” It’s okay to take a few minutes to yourself and find something that brings you comfort. You’re getting a much needed break, while modeling for your kids that it’s okay to take breaks when you’re overwhelmed. See some cool-downs we recommend.
#6 Watch Your Kids
Have you ever wondered what your kids do in the six hours they are in school all day? With some schools moving to e-learning, you now have the opportunity to have a glimpse into their world! Watch how they learn, problem solve, get agitated, and persevere. They’re incredible and you now have a window directly into their learning that you wouldn’t otherwise have if you’ve never previously home schooled. And thanks to technology, there are a lot of online school resources and homeschooling resources available online; homeschooling is tough business!
#7 Support Others
This will take some creative brainstorming. Remember, your kids are watching your responses and behaviors during this time of uncertainty. This is an excellent opportunity for you to point out areas where you can help someone else. Can you text a neighbor to see if they need anything and have your child drop something off on their porch? Can you FaceTime with family? Encourage them to chat with a friend and keep their relationships going.
#8 Embrace the Opportunity
The Conflict Center believes that conflict is an opportunity to build relationships and solve problems. And this is certainly a unique opportunity to have significant time with your kids to build relationships. With that said, give yourself grace if you don’t love every single moment of them being home from school. But you can take advantage of the times where you can snuggle closer and stay a little longer. The whole family will benefit from embracing the opportunity that you didn’t ask for.
You just made multiple major transitions all at once; it’s sure to bring about plenty of emotion. In the meantime, we hope a few of these tips can help the chaos of staying home with kids feel more intentional, authentic and maybe even fun.