Managing parent stress during the pandemic
Dealing with the coronavirus on an ongoing basis can be stressful enough. Factor in being at home with your children for the rest of the school year while still trying to get things done for your job or just keeping the house in order, and the stress multiples.
In fact, when uncontrolled, a high-stress environment has been associated with an increased risk of domestic violence and child abuse. To prevent that kind of environment from ever happening, I’d like to offer some stress-free tips on making your home as stress-free as possible for you and your children.
Let’s start with parents this week and focus on kids for next.
Helpful advice for parents
Parents, the first step in reducing your stress in your home right now is to view the time you are together with your children in a positive light. Thanks to coronavirus (and it’s probably the only thing we can thank the virus for), you may never have time like this again to really strengthen the relationship you have with your children.
And speaking of positive light, now more than ever, focus on what is going well for you and your family and not on what is going wrong. Raising your voice will only make everyone more stressed and angrier, so staying calm even when you need to be assertive, keeps your children calm as well.
Make sure you have a daily routine in place, but be flexible and creative as to what you do within that routine. Add new activities into the routine on a regular basis, along with breaks of free time, exercise time and play or fun time, in addition to the learning time that goes with home-schooling right now.
Fresh air, a healthy diet, adequate sleep and exercise are great stress relievers for you and the rest of the family. So is limiting the amount of coronavirus media coverage you and your family are being exposed to. If you feel steam building up, take a one-minute pause to breathe deeply and think about how you are feeling. Channel any tension into relaxation and calm before returning to your children.
Remember, home isolation does not mean being unable to communicate with other friends and family. Having someone you can talk to via phone or video-chatting can help you when you feel sad, stressed, scared or angry. If overwhelmed and fearful that you may hurt others physically or emotionally, please call your health professional or 1-800 CHILDREN to get you the emotional assistance you need to reduce that stress, should suggestions such as those I offered not be working.
Hopefully, tips like these will help melt away the stress in you, so you can cherish the love and quality time you are spending with your family in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5.