The coronavirus pandemic has been causing a lot of distress to everyone. To us parents, it’s even tougher, especially now that it has been months since the pandemic began. We have to deal with our children’s emotional stress, anxiety, and fears, along with managing our own. With the role to keep our children safe and secure despite the uncertainty, we would like to share with you some tips to make parenting more manageable in the time of the pandemic and intermittent lockdown.
Table of contents
- Parental roles
- Parenting challenges in the time of pandemic
- Pandemic parenting tips
- Caring for yourself
As parents, we have two major roles to play in our children’s lives – nurture and structure. By nurture, we have the responsibility to care for our children’s food, shelter, clothing, security, education, and other basic needs. To nurture our children also means giving them our love, attention, support, understanding, and time.
The other thing we need to provide our children is structure. It is our role to guide them, teach them values, set rules and limits, and discipline them. We need to instill in them a sense of responsibility in line with their maturity.
Both nurture and structure must be balanced so that our children will grow in a holistic and healthy way. This balance is important for our children to develop good IQ, EQ, and CQ (Cultural Quotient or cultural intelligence).
Parenting challenges in the time of pandemic
Even before the pandemic, parenting has never been easy. Life does not come with a definite handbook on how to raise children. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic still here to stay, we are faced with even more challenges. How many of us have lost jobs? How many of us have wages and business affairs affected by the pandemic? How many of us have to deal with chores, plus online jobs, and kids having online classes altogether? Not to mention the trouble of managing children’s screen time or dealing with arguing siblings and bored teens who have been home-quarantined for months.
There are more challenges, I know. There are more difficulties we face not everyone knows about.
It’s not just you..
Thinking of financial responsibilities, parental roles, and keeping yourself together in this very challenging time is very exhausting. Really. The good thing is that it’s not just you who is tired or confused or exhausted. That does not make it any easier, though, but it is comforting to know that you are not alone in this journey. Parents can help each other by sharing tips on coping and parenting in this time of pandemic, as well as supporting each other in any way possible.
So how do we cope? How can we make parenting manageable in this time of the coronavirus pandemic?
Pandemic parenting tips
1. Protection from the coronavirus
Keeping your kids healthy and safe from the virus can be made possible by making new routines and practices. Aside form keeping them safe and protected, these new practices can help make the kids feel secure.
Make a schedule and make it consistent. With online classes, your children may not have to wake up early for school. Adjust your time schedule for waking up, but do not allow them to stay up late, either. Make sure cellphones are turned off an hour before bedtime. This will help the kids sleep faster at night and wake up easier the next morning.
Finally, set a schedule for other activities, including meals, exercises, and chores. Allow them to plot the schedule with you so they would be more willing to stick to the schedule.
You know the drill. Stay away from crowded places or places with poor ventilation to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Be always on the lookout and constantly remind your children of regular handwashing, use of hand sanitizers, wearing a mask, and maintaining physical distancing. Explain to them why they are important to follow. Most importantly, be an example and follow safety protocols that your children can emulate.
2. Online classes
While we are stressed with all the changes and responsibilities during this pandemic, it is not an easy time for our children, too. They need our guidance when it comes to online classes. They need guidance when it comes to keeping track of their assignments, managing their tasks, and more.
You may also notice your children acting out or becoming unusually impatient. This is totally normal during these times and it would help a lot if you can try to go easy on them.
Other ideas that may be of help to you when it comes to your children’s online classes include the following:
- Set a designated study space. Just like setting a new schedule, it is advisable that you set a designated area for your children to their schoolwork and online classes. This way, your children will have some sense of normalcy even with the home setup.
- Reach out to other parents. Reaching out to other parents can make you feel more connected with others. It can help you learn more tips. You also get to share your ideas with them.
- Keep in touch with your children’s teachers. Teachers know how well their students are doing – their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Learning more about how your child is doing at school can help you determine how independently your child can perform and how much support your child needs from you.
- Bring lessons to life. As much as possible, make learning more fun and practical by applying them in real life. A baking activity, for instance, can be a great way for them to learn more about measurements and mathematical operations.
- Set up small rewards. Remember that this pandemic is not easy for your children, too? Setting up small rewards for school accomplishments can keep help keep them motivated.
3. Gadget issues
There is nothing wrong with children using gadgets for entertainment and keeping in touch with other kids. The only problem is when they get too attached to using them that they have no more interest in doing other activities. Worse, they could be addicted.
To prevent gadget addiction, it is important that you manage their screen time with the schedule you have made. Make sure they engage in other activities and chores. Maybe you can introduce them to new hobbies they may be interested in.
For bigger children or teens, it is not just all games they may be hooked into. It can be social media. While it can be a great way to keep them in touch with their friends and relatives, social media can possibly have negative effects. It may increase their anxiety or fear during this time. While it is not advisable to take social media away from your children, a constant reminder of responsible use must be encouraged.
4. Emotional well-being
One big concern for us parents in this time of the pandemic is the emotional well-being of our children. The following tips can help you promote your children’s emotional health despite the uncertainty.
- Talk to your children. Explain briefly what is going on and honestly answer the questions they have in an age-appropriate manner. Be sure to find reliable sources of information, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Be there to listen to your children. When your children talk about their frustrations, let them. Listen to them and validate their feelings. Teens, most especially, can get annoyed and frustrated by the restrictions and new rules. Explain properly why such restrictions and rules are important. Let them know that you empathize with them as you also share your own frustrations.
- Be grateful and encouraging. Now that there is so much negativity, there will always things to be thankful for. Make it a part of your bedtime routine to bring up at least one thing you are thankful for. Encourage your children to do the same. This way, you will end the day feeling better.
- Allow your children to virtually socialize with others. Keeping in touch with friends and family can help ease your children’s anxiety and boredom. You can arrange virtual playdates with their friends and other family members through video calls.
- Be more affectionate. Giving more hugs and kisses to your children can give them a sense of security. It is an effective way to reduce anxiety – theirs and yours. Try it!
- No to physical punishments and yelling. It might be very tempting to spank and yell at your children when they act out, but remember that the kids are having a confusing and difficult time, too. Avoid physical punishments and yelling as your children can feel more anxious and less secure with you.
5. Other tips
Here is a very helpful infographic from the World Health Organization (WHO) on positive parenting.
Caring for yourself
If we do not take care of our own well-being, then we cannot be effective parents. Burnout can happen when we are faced with too many demands and stress. We can get sick and things are going to be much more difficult to bear. You can follow these tips for self-care:
- Take a time out when you feel like losing your patience with your children or when overwhelmed. Take deep breaths so you can help yourself calm down.
- Talk to your children about their behavior only when you are calm.
- Take time to unwind and relax. You can watch a movie, read a book, or listen to your favorite music.
- Get enough sleep. You can also take a relaxing shower before hitting the bed.
- Aside from getting enough sleep, keep yourself healthy by eating healthy food and by exercising. Get your daily dose of Vitamin D by getting some sunshine in the morning.
- When both parents are at home, try taking turns in caring for your children to avoid exhaustion.
- Reach out to other parents, as mentioned earlier. Talking to your partner also helps a lot.
- Go easy on yourself. Do not try to do it all, solve it all, and manage it all. Try to be more patient with yourself and be more forgiving of yourself.
The pandemic will be here to stay until maybe a vaccine is in place and made available to the public. In the meantime, we are stuck with the intermittent lockdown and quarantine. We know it is never easy being a parent having to juggle all the other responsibilities. With the tips we shared, we hope parenting will be more manageable for you in this time of lingering pandemic.