While the calendar turns to a new day, as parents, sometimes it feels like we are still reliving the same day over and over again since the pandemic began. Wake up, feed the kids, work, homeschool, zoom, work, lunch, work, zoom, feed the family and then work again once the kids are asleep. It is an ongoing cycle that has caused many parents to grey early and also wonder that if we feel continuously stressed, how are our children handling the stress?
FIND TIME TO CONNECT
The first thing to do is find frequent connection points with your children. It’s easy to get caught up focusing on the day to day and sometimes overlooking their emotional needs. Whatever their age, connecting through play has been found to be beneficial. Play can be an important channel to relieve stress and help strengthen emotional bonds within a family. At this time of year, get outside when you can, go for walks, bike, scooter, sled when outdoors. When indoors, make a fort, connect through art, create an obstacle course, and play boardgames or follow your children’s interests.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN
Since it’s been nearly a year since the pandemic began, it can be useful to take a moment and check in to see how your kids are feeling about it. They may have questions and having open and honest communication with them can help them feel more secure with where we are at and how Covid pertains to their future. If you need back up – there are many age-appropriate videos on YouTube or other educational sights explaining the pandemic you can use to get your discussion started. Check in with them periodically and keep the open communication strong.
INTRODUCE THEM TO RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
With anxiety on the rise amongst all age groups, it’s important to find a few ways to relax with your kids. Time in nature, time for yoga/exercise, and time for meditation can all help as well as journaling.
If you want to try meditation – pick a quiet time of day and sit as a family with your kids. Some people have had good experiences trying this right after getting home after school before starting playtime and dinner. In our home, we found evenings towards the end of our bedtime routine worked well for us. For younger kids, reading a story helps calm the mood beforehand and increases their receptivity. You can start by setting a gentle timer – start small, 2-5 minutes depending on their age and build over time. After the session is a great time to talk about how they felt and discuss anything else that comes up for them. Bonus: the resulting quiet is a good way to ease into bedtime!
COMBAT YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Through the pandemic, often forgotten when worrying about the rest of our family is finding time for self-care for ourselves. When we as parents are less stressed, we know that this directly helps the rest of our family stay more peaceful. Any time for yourself relaxing or following your passions is a form of self–care and finding a few minutes every day are imperative for us to keep going. Going for a solo walk, reading a book, exercising, listening to music, taking a nap, getting off of social media, learning something, taking photos, drinking tea, and zooming a friend are just a few examples of ways to find some time for yourself and destress.
Within the ongoing pandemic is a silver lining, the amount of time we get to spend with our children is something many people are commenting positively on. Without the work commutes, and afterschool activity runs, we have an increase in the quantity of time we have available with them and have the opportunity to increase the quality. Use whatever time you have available to connect, relax, and combat your stress together, and get through this as a family.