Parents, let’s level with each other: As much as we love our kids, we also love dropping them off at school. As many a grandma loves to say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”—and that old adage rings truer than ever during the coronavirus. Being a parent is never easy, but it’s especially trying when there are no teachers and caregivers to tag in and give you a breather.
An estimated 1.38 billion kids are out of school globally, participating in e-learning programs or being homeschooled. To make matters worse, activities like team sports, play dates, and sleepovers are next to impossible to do safely. Add working from home and the virus itself to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for fatigue, anxiety, and a host of other challenging emotions.
Even a superhero would struggle with feeding the kids, keeping them entertained, having a video call with grandma and grandpa, and doing the laundry on a weeknight (let alone finding time for self care). But there are little things parents can do that might help them feel less overwhelmed—and more in touch with their emotions during these challenging times.
If it seems like parenting is challenging right now, it’s because it is. A recent study found that many different factors influence parent stress, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic. Researchers found that good marital relationships, strong social bonds, families interacting harmoniously, and the absence of a family history of mental illness may have had a positive impact on parent mental health. Even the ages of kids in the house can have an effect. Parents with kids in middle and high school experienced higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than those of kids in elementary school.
Sometimes the easiest person to blame when things are difficult is ourselves, but try to keep self-blame in perspective. Remember that you're doing your best, and that the coronavirus is unprecedented for most people. Be understanding and compassionate with yourself. Even if you feel overwhelmed, remember that you’re doing your best to raise kids during a tumultuous global pandemic. No one is expected to navigate this perfectly, so be gracious with yourself when you make mistakes.
Even if you’re tethered to your home, try to find ways to unplug from “caretaker mode” through soothing projects or activities. A silver lining of the pandemic is having more time to focus on things you may not normally have time for. Gardening, drawing, reading, playing music—anything that feels soothing and fulfilling. If breaking off isn’t possible, think about ways that you can engage your kids in the same fulfilling activities. You might just find lovely family moments in the process.
If you’re co-parenting, consider scheduling time for each of you to break off and tend to your own needs. Walk around the neighborhood, go for a long bike ride, or read a book in the park. Spending time by yourself has proven psychological benefits, such as enhanced self-esteem and motivation.
With a global pandemic, national unrest, and elections around the corner, there’s a lot of stress in the media. Consider how the news you’re consuming is affecting your mental health. Staying informed is important, but the World Health Organization recommends limiting the amount of news coverage that makes you feel anxious or distressed.
Video calls with family and friends can be a great alternative to stressful media. They’re a great way to stay connected and engaged with the closest people in your life.
If parenting during the coronavirus has you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, ZOOM+Care can help. Set up a visit with one of our on-demand mental health specialists today. We also offer virtual visits through VideoCare™ if an in-person visit isn’t the best fit for you.
ZOOM+Care’s on-demand mental health specialists give great guidance and help you take care of yourself, giving you tools to feel better on your own. They can also help with medication management, and give counseling referrals if needed.