When you’re a parent, self-care often takes a back seat. But taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury. It’s essential and how we keep ourselves well to ensure we are physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of being there for our children.The realities of COVID-19 make self-care even more important. The unknowns of what is coming next can worry even the calmest of parents. Safe Haven is here to help. Below are some helpful tips on how to provide a calm and stable home base for your children during difficult times.
Your Child's Behavior Is How They Are Communicating When young children experience a change in their routines, they may be confused and upset. When children are under stress, they may lack the right words to express or understand how they are feeling. It’s easy to become frustrated, since as adults, we’re already managing so much. When you encounter a challenging behavior, pause to think about what your child might be telling you. How can you best support them and meet their needs?
Be Realistic “Perfectionism and the coronavirus don’t mix,” says David Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “It’s time to be exceedingly realistic, both at work and as a parent.” Avoid burnout by setting realistic expectations and giving yourself grace if you can’t meet them. “Practice forgiveness and self-compassion,” says Dr. Anderson. Parents should remind themselves that these are unprecedented times. “There’s no playbook for this. Remember you’re doing your best during a very difficult time. Cut yourself some slack.”
Make Time For Yourself You and your household are probably used to having time apart. If you’re stuck at home due to coronavirus precautions, your family may be together 24 hours a day and it may feel impossible to get time alone. Without it, we have to be intentional about creating space to recharge and decompress. Set boundaries with your family when you are taking time for yourself. Find a room in your house to do an activity. Yoga, coloring, or listening to music.
Make Peace With The Unknown This situation is one of full of uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen, how long it will last or what things will be like when it’s over. One thing we do know, is that no amount of worry will change the outcome. Learning how to tolerate the uncertainty is a huge part of building healthy coping skills for ourselves, which we then want to model for our children. “Right now it’s very easy to let your brain spin out with the frightening possibilities,” warns Dr. Anderson. “Practicing mindfulness helps bring us back to the present, and away from the brink.”
Check In With Yourself Now more than ever we need to pay attention to how we are feeling. Try this breathing exercise when you are feeling anxious.
Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
Inhale deeply into your stomach like you are a balloon and feel your hand rise.
Exhale slowly like you are deflating.
Repeat two to four times.
It's important to know that connecting with yourself through mindfulness activities is different for everyone. What activities make you happy? Reduce your stress level? Leave you feeling calm? Find what works for you and your children.