“Family Stress Relief During the Corona Virus Outbreak”
by Mary L.Pulido, Ph.D. The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
It appears that many families are going to be spending a lot of time together, possibly mandated, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Corona Virus. Even the most patient parent can be pushed to their limits. It’s a very stressful time, particularly as the news is dire, social media is alarming and the stock markets are on a roller coaster ride. Pair those worries with income loss and school shutdowns, any parent can be at their wits end. Tempers can be short and it can be easy to lash out at your children. The key to surviving and thriving is to take care of yourself. As they say on the airplane, put your own oxygen mask on first, then assist your children. Too often, self-care for parents is the first thing to go. So, here are a few tips to help you keep your calm, balance the competing priorities that this outbreak brings.
1. “Make time for “me” time.” This means take time to care for yourself physically and emotionally. Take time to exercise, read, nap or work on a home project to recharge your batteries. Your role as a parent can be overwhelming. Sometimes just having an hour to go to the gym or walk outside can lift your spirits and can change your perspective immediately. Simply having a cup of coffee with a friend can help you unwind.
2. “Cut yourself some slack.” There may be days where you get everything done on your “to do” list. But, some days (maybe even most days) everything that you have planned to do may just not get done. It’s okay to leave the laundry for another day, or skip the vacuuming. This is particularly true for new parents, who are finding their routines turned upside down. Abolish the word “guilt” from your vocabulary. Think about all of the wonderful things you do for your child each day.
3. “Shore up your support system and don’t be afraid to ask for help.” Many parents are not use to asking for help. Sometimes they think “I should be able to manage this infant/child on my own.” This is not necessarily the way to go. Often, people will be happy to help out. But if they don’t offer, please make your needs known. Ask your spouse, significant other, friend or neighbor for help. You’d be surprised — I know I’d enjoy the chance to watch a baby while the Mom tries to find a store that isn’t sold out of toilet paper!