Self-Care for Parents In the New Normal of CoVid-19
Resilience is both an inborn and a learned skill. Learned young, it sets our kids up for success and general well-being throughout their lives. We have the task of teaching resilience to our kids through everyday life experiences. Now we have the added concern of how to cope and thrive in these unusual days. It’s a lot to handle, isn’t it? Self-care for parents in the new normal of CoVid-19 is necessary to manage the many additional layers of responsibility this pandemic has created.
We cannot teach our children from an empty well. We need a wellspring of our resiliency, and we must be taking care of ourselves well to cope with the added responsibilities these shutdowns have laid on our shoulders. How can we carve out time for meaningful self-care that builds us up and increases our resilience skills?
Get Inside Your Own Head
Honestly examine your thoughts and feelings about resilience. Is this a skill you naturally possess? Have you had to learn resilience? If you don’t feel as if you have a solid footing of resiliency from which to operate, our recent show, Using This Time of Shutdown to Develop Resiliency in Our Kids and Family, is a great resource.
Thinking through this list will also help you understand resilience and assess your skills and needs.
- Acknowledge the variety of feelings you are experiencing in this pandemic. Try journaling or talking them out with a trusted friend.
- Use the transition from summer to fall to re-evaluate your family’s routines and create a predictable, manageable that supports the demands on your time.
- Take some time to attend to your own needs: think about your daily habits, self-reflection, healthy eating, exercise, nurturing relationships, etc.
- Identify your healthy coping skills and consider how you can build them further.
- Think about the expectations you hold for yourself, of your kids, of your circumstances. Do you need to consider re-setting those expectations to more reasonable, achievable levels?
- Practice whatever spiritual practices you hold dear – regularly and intentionally.
- What activities do you engage in, that bring you joy, peace, or fulfillment?
- Look for (socially distant) ways to give to others, counter the sense of isolation, and broaden your worldwide crisis perspective.
- Re-frame these mandatory shutdowns and school year changes as opportunities rather than drudgery or “prison sentences.” Find what benefit you can in the plan ahead of you. For example, “I get to choose to keep my kids home for school this fall, where we can be safe and healthy together.” instead of “I’m stuck at home with the kids trying to work, and now I have to teach them, too.”
Heading into the school year – no matter what educational options your family is pursuing right now – with an intentionally honest perspective is an excellent form of self-care. Supporting yourself with the resources you need to improve some skills and giving yourself credit for what you are doing well is another form of healthy self-care!
Second, consider a variety of self-care techniques that you may not have had to employ before. We posed the question to our online Facebook community and got an excellent sampling of ideas that make good sense for the unusual circumstances of quarantine-life. Permit yourself to have fun trying out these suggestions:
- Give yourself a mini-spa treatment, including a manicure and pedicure – with the kids, or not.
- Take a spontaneous “day off” for a PJ and Movie Day – invite the kids, or not.
- Walk with a neighbor – 6 feet apart, of course!
- Limit your news and social media intake regarding this pandemic and politics.
- Schedule regular Zoom calls with friends you usually see in person.
- Savor special treats in small doses, like ordering delivery of your favorite dark chocolate or gourmet coffee.
- Take a night off of cooking and support a local, family-owned take-out restaurant. Tip as generously as you can afford. Giving feels good!
- Stay consistent with your medications and supplements.
- Plan a way for your weekdays to look and feel different than weekends.
- Find a new podcast or tv show that helps you escape from daily concerns.
Get Your Sleep!
It’s easy to allow life stressors in this new normal – where nothing feels quite normal yet – to take over our hearts and minds. When anxiety spills into our sleep patterns, we can get caught in a vicious cycle. That cycle makes the days even more challenging for everyone. The new normal of CoVid-19 is a season in which to prioritize healthy sleep habits. Here are some suggestions that might work for you:
- Experiment with some sound machine apps to find a soothing backdrop for bedtime.
- Turn off all electronics and tv time an hour before you want to fall asleep.
- Learn about essential oils and find one that calms and supports sleep for you.
- Read a book with quiet music playing until you feel tired enough to sleep.
- Enjoy a lean protein snack before bed.
- As Grandma used to recommend, a glass of warm milk or herbal decaf tea can be very soothing.
- Exercise regularly, earlier in the day, to help tire your body in healthy ways.
Self-Care Buffers You for The Hard Times
It sounds trite to tell yourself that self-care is not selfish. But it’s true. Self-care is an investment in yourself that supports you to go the distance in marriage, parenting, and work. Think of it as a buffer against the everyday stressors and the big stuff, like finding our way through this new normal. Self-care is a practice in resilience. You will teach your kids by example how to face this challenging experience of CoVid-19. And that’s a lesson that will last them a lifetime, even after the pandemic is long gone.
Image Credits: adifferentbrian; Bart Everson; Heather Kawek