Your kids are home and you have to get work done. You’re tired, hurting and wondering how so much sitting around could feel so exhausting. Life has been turned upside down. So much for your old routine. That’s out the window.
Stay inside or go outside? Just watch out for those neighbors.
Social distancing. Flattening the curve.
It’s time to make the most of a very challenging situation. It’s time to find strength as parents in what is a time that threatens to tear us apart.
As the father of a five-year old, two-year old and soon-to-be newborn coming later in June, these times have been nerve-racking — to say the least. Where our days previously consisted of running and leading our respective businesses, my wife and I are now full-time business leaders and full-time parents.
All of us are juggling lots of responsibilities while trying to perform, provide, nurture and comfort the people around us.
Add in everyday anxiety, behavioral changes and the fears that come from living in in an unprecedented public health crisis, it’s been very confusing to say the least. Should we stay glued to the news on our TV’s and iPhones or should we refrain from the “gloom and doom” of the latest coronavirus updates?
Uncertainty leads to many questions around what we should think and how we should act. It’s very difficult right now to feel like we’re thinking clearly and coherently — free from the pervasive fear that is in the air. Parenting strength comes from making decisions by having peace of mind, rather than dealing from a position of fear.
Our Time to Find Strength
Rather than giving in to extreme fear and panic, this is your time as a parent to find strength. It’s a test of all of our character, but we need to be strong for ourselves first so we can in turn be strong for our children. It’s perfectly OK to be vulnerable, so give yourself some grace. Our children are looking for answers, but it’s OK if we don’t have them. There’s so much unknown.
Strength comes from self-care — this is multi-dimensional: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Here are some ways that you can practice self-care as parent right now:
Read positive, nurturing and uplifting literature. Engage in stimulating conversations with your spouse and children and tell stories that bring laughter and hope.
Don’t neglect exercise. You can go for a walk in your neighborhood, or do some pushups and crunches in the privacy of your home. Don’t underestimate how important it is to your overall well being. We’ve taken several walks together as a family with our dog. Exercise on your own or share this time with your family.
Lead with empathy. Show compassion and kindness to one another. We’re all going to be dealing with some major cabin fever soon. By practicing self-care, first for yourself, you’re able to be the parent you need to be for your children
Meditation, prayer and quiet time when you can find it is key right now. As much as the time you share together with your loved ones is important, it’s equally important for you to pull back and recharge so you can be a great parent. Center yourself and see things in the big picture. Fear begins in your mind. You can control your thoughts. Think in a positive, compassionate way.
Presence is Key
It’s OK to admit you feel a little bit scared — this doesn’t mean you’re not being strong. Don’t beat yourself up about needing some extra time during the day to relax and collect your thoughts. We’re facing a pandemic unlike any we’ve ever seen.
The pressure is intense from our jobs, the need to provide for our families, and to meet the expectations of our employers, employees and customers. Take the time to focus with full presence and energy on your children, and divide your time into blocks.
Create a parenting rotation with your spouse and maximize the time blocks that you have to focus on parenting, reading your children a book or assisting them with learning something new
Make sure you devote true family time each day to a shared activity (either a meal or game, maybe even some karaoke) where you can all share some laughs and conversation together.
Talk about what’s going on in the world and help your children to understand what’s taking place. Put their health needs first — ask them to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and be careful of who they come in contact with.
Think of all the good things you have in your life — not the bad things happening in the world. It’s OK to be worried and to feel a bit unsure during uncertain times. As a parent, there’s power in expressing your emotions and being vulnerable.
There’s amazing power in showing your strength and thinking positively to provide your children’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. By looking inward, we’re able to look outward. By finding the strength within, we can be great parents and get through this difficult time together.
This article was originally published on PS I Love You. Relationships Now.