Parenting is so rewarding, but at times, it can be a little overwhelming. The good news is, you’re not alone. Feeling the pressures of parenting is normal, especially now when the world is anything but. Having more time to spend with our family can be wonderful sometimes, but right now, we may even be with our kids 24/7 – that’s a lot of quality time! We’re all trying to figure out how to navigate the ups and downs of this roller coaster of a year. Fortunately, there are proactive ways to ease stress and manage your anxiety better.
People often find comfort in certainty, knowing what’s going to happen in the near and distant future (or a least having a pretty good idea). That’s not always possible during a global pandemic as the world seems to change from one day to the next. The closest thing to finding a sense of normalcy is keeping a schedule and getting organized. Get everyone up at the same time every day and keep doing things you’d all normally do, like showering, getting dressed and eating breakfast. Consider scheduling a weekly family meeting to go over chores and plans to help keep everyone on track.
Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t still be social. We all need human connection, whether that’s visiting friends and family six feet apart or hopping on a Zoom call. The hardest part is carving out time that works for everyone. Try to stay “close” by setting up regular virtual “visits” — turn a Friday night glass of wine into a Zoom chat with a few friends or your Sunday morning coffee break into a check in with other parents.
Doing things for yourself contributes to your overall mental health and well-being, therefore makes you a better parent. So, if you really need to justify it (which you don’t), self-care is childcare. Have your spouse watch the kids or put on a movie for them while you take some time to do a little online shopping, cozy up to a book, get in a home workout session or actually watch the show you want to watch. Taking time for yourself allows you to reset, so whatever those little things are that make you happy, make them a priority.
Not only does spending time outdoors reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, it’s actually very good for your mental and physical health. Research shows that time spent in nature reduces cortisol (a stress hormone) while boosting endorphin and dopamine production (which promotes happiness). It also provides an opportunity to get your daily dose of physical activity. As a family, try to ride your bikes outside as long as the weather permits, go for walks, or consider taking up cross country skiing or snowshoeing this winter.
Worrying about the future only increases anxiety. You can’t predict what’s going to happen, you can only focus on what you’re in control of now. It’s important to stay informed but news and social media can be overwhelming if you’re not taking the time to relax (even if you have been scheduling regular breaks). Turning off the news or your phone is an opportunity to recharge and reset, allowing you to be present in the moment. Having trouble finding that inner peace? Check out the 8 Best Meditation Apps of 2020.
Spending good quality time with the family is important, but don’t forget to set aside some quality time for yourself!