Self-Care For Parents In The Age of A Pandemic
Taking Care Of Yourself So You Can Care For Others
You can’t pour from an empty cup, or so the saying goes. And while you might feel like your cup is currently overflowing — with work demands, homeschooling, and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity — the saying really means in order to take care of someone else, you must first take care of yourself.
That’s where the notorious term self-care comes in. While it’s become somewhat of a millennial buzzword, self-care doesn’t just mean candles and bubble baths. In fact, the Ancient Greeks regarded it as a method for making people more likely to care for others. “Filling your cup” can take on many shapes and forms, whether that’s unplugging for the day, eating your favorite food, going on a long walk, or having an at-home spa day.
We’re continuing into month six of a pandemic-induced lockdown, of which we gradually may be feeling the physical and mental effects. This strange period of human history is especially hard on parents whose children are in school. Working from home while running a classroom from the kitchen table is immensely challenging and can lead to debilitating stress. That stress, if accumulated unchecked, can be harmful to both parents and children alike.
This self-care guide is here to help parents navigate this strange new world, which, in turn, will also benefit their children.
Scheduling Is Your Best Friend
This is a simple yet often overlooked act of self-care: time management.
Right now, much of the world seems to be spinning out of control. And that’s okay — we can’t have a handle on everything. However, to keep our stress from also spinning out of control, managing the things we can right now is key. Time is one of those things.
Structure benefits both adults and children, and having a set schedule can help ease feelings of anxiety. One of the best approaches for creating a schedule is writing it down (yes, with a pen and paper, perhaps even color-coded!) and hanging it where it’s easily seen. Another good approach is scheduling blocks of time for certain tasks and then setting a timer. Once the timer rings, you move on to the next thing on your schedule.
From scheduling work and school tasks to meals to leisure time, you can start to regain a sense of control and help your kids manage their school days as well, lowering stress and supporting their well-being. This isn’t a foolproof method, and it requires lots of patience and flexibility, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Make Time For Quality Time
Being stuck in the house grinding on work or school all day can be somewhat isolating. Even though everyone’s in the same house, they’re heads down in their own work. That’s why having intentional quality time will benefit you and your kids in tandem.
There are lots of ways to go about this, and it comes down to how you best spend time with your family. A mommy-daughter spa day, complete with facial scrubs, masks, and some relaxing music works wonders for the skin and the soul! Movie screenings, game nights, and reading out loud are also great options. Studies point to evidence that spending time with family can lead to lower stress levels, both in children and adults. What’s more, children who spend more time with their parents perform better in school, and are on average happier than those who spend less time with their parents.
Take Space When You Need It
That said, it’s also just as important to take space for yourself when needed, and it’s important your children have this space as well. Unplugging for even just 20 minutes, going for a walk or run, meditating, or enjoying an episode of your favorite TV show can help bring calm and clarity back to your mind. As a result, you’ll feel recharged when returning to the demands of parenthood and life in quarantine.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Overcoming challenging times is much easier when you’ve got a shoulder to lean on. Whether that’s asking friends, a partner, extended family members or neighbors to step in, remember that it’s ok if you need help. Nobody gets through anything alone! Knowing you have a support system will help decrease stress levels, allowing you to focus on what really matters: your kids.