Pandemic Parenting

written by: Elizabeth Z. McDonough, LMHC

“Don’t freak out mom.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that statement since schools have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic… 

Among the many emotions a parent may feel during this uncharted time in history, anxiety and irritability rank top on my list. If you’re finding yourself in the same boat, keep reading to learn how to cope with these icky feelings and find more peace in your current situation. 

Keeping in mind, the things you focus on grow stronger. Focusing on topics that cause anxiety will only increase anxiety. Limit your exposer to these topics to keep yourself updated but not overwhelmed. 

In need of a reset?

Begin the day before the kids wake up. Taking the first 10 min of the day to stretch and state personal affirmations aloud (example: I am powerful. I am mindful. I am a great mom – even if you don’t always feel like a great mom). Create the affirmations beforehand so they are easier to list while stretching. Notice your body’s response to these kind words. You can refer back to this nurturing space throughout the day. Feel free to encourage your kids to create their own list of affirmations. Schedule periodic “time outs” for the whole family. Let’s face it, we all need time to reset on occasion, but even more so now. 

Whole family feeling annoyed & irritable?

My son, Kane age 8, suggests using a breathing ball. Inhale while expanding the ball and exhale completely while compressing the ball. Choose a fixed point on the ball to focus on while taking 3 full breaths. The whole family can join. End with stating something for which you’re grateful. Another mindful family activity, suggested by my 4 year old son Van, is to fill a clear plastic water bottle with water and glitter & tighten the cap. Take turns shaking it really hard to get all your frustrations out, set it down and breathe deeply while glitter settles to the bottom. 

We are in this together

Everyone is finding it difficult to get anything accomplished. Take for instance this short article you’re reading. It has taken me multiple interrupted attempts to finish. I could choose to feel angry and frustrated that I can’t get things done in a timely fashion OR I could choose to be flexible and kind toward myself. The latter choice feels much better and leaves me in a more peaceful space. It also allows me to be kinder to myself and my family.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

I keep a visible reminder on my refrigerator, “Little people, little problems.” Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job. As we remain compliant with social distancing, never have we had so much free time to learn self-love, flexibility, and gratitude.

Eventually this pandemic will pass and we will all be better people for choosing healthier ways to manage ourselves.

Best wishes to my fellow parents,

~Elizabeth Z. McDonough, LMHC