The new home dynamic has completely changed over the course of a few days due to COVID-19. The concept of villages raising children (i.e. through school and extra-curricular activities) has been swapped for single unit care. Parents used to kid-free time during work, or while the kids are at school and activities, no longer have that alone time luxury. Now, your kids are with you 24/7, and many parents are struggling to adapt. Here are a few things you can do to help both you and your kids adapt and cope with this new normal.
Coping with Your Kids: Your Kids Start with You
It may sound simple, but you are the key to success in regard to your kids. They are looking to you now more than ever on how to behave in this new situation. If you are freaking out and panicking (and your kids are seeing it), they are more than likely going to follow suit. Do your best to keep calm and practice self-awareness to identify the times you are not. Your kids are searching for a sense of stability. If you can be that rock during this time, the rest of the family will be better off.
So, Take Care of Yourself
With that said, it’s impossible to be support and strength at all times. You are going to have moments of fear and anxiety because you are human. We encourage you to feel those emotions and sit with them, however, we suggest you try to do so when the kids aren’t around. Now, there are times this can create a dialogue between you and your kids. Allow them to ask you questions and share their fears. Sometimes simple validation can help more than anything else.
To help you cope with that anxiety, make sure you use this time to take care of yourself. Fill your cup so you can fill the cups of your family when needed. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Keep Them on a Schedule and Routine
You’re going to be tempted to treat this time as a mini-vacation. And while we won’t judge you for taking a day or two to catch up on sleep and re-fill your cup as necessary, it’s important that you and your kids stay on a consistent schedule sooner rather than later. Kids thrive on routine. Structure their day to replicate their school day. Give them time blocks with dedicated start and end times with breaks in between. If their schools have already adapted to virtual learning, follow that regimen and structure. If their school hasn’t, consider appropriate learning lessons for them based upon what they were learning before the outbreak.
Remember, any learning is good learning. Use this time to help develop their interests and learn about the things they are passionate about – if they love dinosaurs, let their minds go wild. For more helpful information on learning at home, consider these resources:
Monitor Screen Time and Encourage Family Time
Screens can feel like a Godsend. These pieces of magic are able to quiet kids and keep them engaged for hours at a time. And while you may be tempted to use these screens every time you need a break, we encourage you to only use them as a last resort. Add screen time into their daily schedule but try to keep them off them once that time is up.
Instead, we implore that you spend more time as a family to replace that time in front of a screen. If you are in an area where you can still go for a daily walk (while keeping a distance from other families) go on a small adventure together. Dust off or order your favorite board games from when you were a kid and share them with your kids now. If you have a yard, play games to work on hand-eye coordination and overall functional fitness.
Other things you can try:
- Making dinner as a family, giving every member their own job
- Family movie night complete with candy and popcorn
- Building pillow forts for any needed alone time during times of feeling overwhelmed
- Read a book together – each family member reading a page or new chapter
- Plant a garden
- Learn yoga poses
- Invent a new sport
- Indulge in arts and crafts
Coping with Your Kids during COVID-19 with CPA
Thinking you’re going to be the perfect parent during this pandemic is an unrealistic expectation. The best things you can do for your kids is to actively listen to them, be as honest as you can with them, and use positive affirmations when you can. Remember, they are looking to you now more than ever.
Parenting outside of a pandemic is hard, let alone during one. But it can be easier when you have someone walking the path with you. If you feel you are struggling, know you aren’t alone, and we want to join you on your journey! The offices of Cristina Panaccione and Associates are closed for now, but we are offering tele-mental health services at this time. So check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you cope with your kids during COVID-19.
Amber Kottner – LPC
My name is Amber Kottner. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and earned my Master of Arts degree in counseling from Waynesburg University. I have over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. I enjoy working with families, children, and adults. I strive to make the therapeutic process as easy as possible by creating an open and supportive environment.
I enjoy helping others and strive to assist you in your journey. I believe that each individual is authentic and deserves an approach that best fits them. Therefore, I enjoy working from eclectic approaches, including an emphasis on cognitive-behavioral techniques, person-centered therapy, and solution-focused goals.
Therapy is a special partnership. I’m here to help make an improvement in your life. You decide what you want to work on, and together, we will work to get you there in the best and most fitting way possible.