Updated: Apr 16
When most of us entered family quarantine in March or April of 2020, we did so with the hope that the virus might be somehow magically resolved by the next school year and everything would be back to normal. For pessimists like myself, we simply decided to put one foot in front of the other, trying not to think too far into the future, lest we enter a spiral of panic (if you’re me). As the school year starts and political conflict reaches a fever pitch, many parents are coming to some major realizations about parenting during this pandemic. Like: it’s hard.
For parents, this can be a time of high anxiety. Here are some of the questions that parents are asking in my therapy office: How will I work while also supporting my child’s learning at home if they are not in school full time? What should my rules be about our contact with grandparents or other people in our lives that we count on for support? What if my child can’t wear a mask for the whole school day? What if I lose my job and can’t support my family?
Parents are facing serious social, financial and occupational pressures. If you find that your anxiety levels are increasing, you are not alone. We’re going to get through this together. Here are some mindset changes that can help you to talk yourself down and face these challenges with hope.
1. Kids are resilient and probably better at adapting than you are
And you are probably not so bad at it yourself. Mental and emotional flexibility is key during this pandemic. We can roll with the disappointments and adapt as we go. Children who master this skill will be stronger, healthier adults in the future.
2. We are not alone, find your support network
Whether you see people with precautions in person or virtually, reconnect with your parent group at school, your church, a book club, or some sports fans. Find other parents with whom you share interests. Shoot the breeze, vent, and encourage one another. And don’t forget to have fun!
3. Don’t project your own anxiety onto your kids
Your anxiety belongs to you, not your kids. There may be things about the pandemic that make you super nervous, but don’t assume your kids feel the same way. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and everyone needs a place to be heard. Listen to each other. Get support for your own anxiety by reaching out to a friend, a therapist, or a support group.
4. Don’t knock it until you try it
Give things a try for a while before declaring that they don’t work for you or your children. Accept trial and error as your friend. No one now living has done this pandemic before. We’re all new at this. Do you think that an online dance class won’t be fun? Try it first. Be open to new possibilities.
5. Ask and expect your kids to rise to the occasion
Kids can help with chores; older children can help with assisting younger kids with schoolwork and tech problems. Since kids are spending more time at home, messes will accumulate faster. It’s time they step up to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher and fold the laundry.
6. Some things have not changed
Reconnect with natural world. Trees, plants, animals, the night sky, the seasons, and fresh air. Some things have not changed. Frogs still croak, rainbows are still magic, and a good day in nature is still a good reset for the body and mind.
7. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present
Now that you have toilet paper stockpiled and have received several shipments of homemade masks from grandma (thanks Grandma!), do some practical planning for the next six months to a year. If you find you are worrying a lot about the “what ifs,” then convert that worry into a few practical plans—and then let it go. Once you have made your plans and preparations, live in the present. Life is short and nothing is guaranteed. Let’s make the most of the extra time we have with our children.
How We Can Help
If you are a parent who is suffering from a anxiety, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxing life
Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Guest blogger Susan Melendez Doak, LPC at Newberg Counseling and Wellness located in Oregon, brings over 13 years and over 25,000 client hours of work to her practice. Growing up overseas as a bi-racial “third culture kid,” Susan understands clients in times of transition and change, and brings laughter and strength to her sessions. Susan’s particular area of focus are adolescents and teenagers in crisis situations (depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, violence), parents, and people of all ages and life circumstances in seasons of change.