Parenting during pandemic - Changing Dynamics
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on Nov 25, 2020
In a global emergency such as the one we are currently in which none of us have had to face before, unique stresses can be faced by everyone especially parents when family dynamics have changed suddenly due to work furloughs, school closures and all members being confined to home. 7 months into this pandemic and parents are still finding every day a challenge adjusting to multiple roles they have to play. Having to work from home, run the household with not much support available, keeping children on track along with virtual schooling besides enduring the restrictions of social distancing, financial pressure and no support from family and friends adding to their woes.
Fear, uncertainty, the whole family occupying the same space day after day, restriction on outings and entertainment all these and much more are all making it difficult for families adjusting to the new normal. The strain can seem unrelenting and it's getting tough to keep a sense of calm. Though all these stressors can make a perfect recipe for burnout, it is still important for parents to help children feel safe, maintain a healthy routine, keep a tab on their emotions and behavior and build resilience.
All this can be achieved by going easy on self, not sticking to usual high standards, taking a sense of balance by following the tips mentioned below which would help make pandemic times easier not only for parents but for the family too.
Some of the handy parenting tips which parents might adopt during these pandemic times might include:
As our children are watching us and learning important life lessons from us, model how to manage feelings. Accept when you feel worried and try to put it in words rather than hiding your emotions as it is normal for parents too to feel overwhelmed, worried or frustrated during times like these when things are beyond one’s control. To cope with many feelings during the pandemic try and make a list of things you can control and those you can’t. So whenever you feel worried or anxious try to focus on things you can control and practice accepting things which you can’t.
Start a gratitude journal rather than complaining about what we have been missing during these difficult times. Our children are learning an important lesson from us on how to handle a crisis situation like the one we are in. So cribbing on what we are missing remembering the good old days of pre coronavirus life such as partying with family and friends, watching a movie or a live music concert, a night out traveling across the city or dining out in our favourite restaurant would only make things hard for us to accept. Instead try making a journal wherein you write a few times per week about all those positive things that have happened which you are grateful for such as diet control, adding exercise to your regime, being able to focus more on your health, pursuing a hobby, spending more quality time with family members .This would help our children build awareness of the positive aspects of their daily life, relieve stress, and have a space to process their day by stating their thoughts and emotions.
Consider this as an opportunity to fathom how you would want the coming weeks to be like. Make a list of things you had been avoiding for long and work on those such as exercise, fixing the sleep debt, organizing the cupboards which were in a mess since long and you always wanted to clean them as “now or never” is the mantra in vogue nowadays.
Both fathers and mothers can share the burden of housework and child care along with their own work commitments during the pandemic so that it is less lopsided than before the pandemic. The good news is even the fathers are participating in the novel tasks of homeschooling that the pandemic has added to daily schedules of families which were never a part of their schedule earlier in pre pandemic times according to many reports. All this has been possible as men have begun to see and appreciate the labor involved in running the house and multitasking done by women which they might have probably ignored earlier.
Learning to accept the other partner in spite of differences. As in most of the cases both fathers and mothers are spending more time together due to being cooped up inside their home for all valid reasons. It is time for couples to try and enhance this time together, rather than resent it. This can be done by accepting each other's imperfections and embracing flaws. This would be an important lesson for our children too to accept others as they are without wanting them to change according to us.
Learn to choose your battles with your children. As the novelty is wearing off and reality is setting in being 7 months into this pandemic, it would be wise enough to choose what to be hyper about. Ranting and raving day in and day out especially when routines have gone for a toss about waking up early, sleeping on time, bathing or having meals on time and so on would not only make children take you less seriously but would also lead to arguments with them every now and then. Try to go easy on the rules at times especially on weekends and go with the flow. Having said that, this just doesn't mean that the children get into holiday mode and not follow a routine. So be specific and clear cut when it comes to laying of rules on what is acceptable and what’s not.
This is an important time to lead by setting an example and show our children how to deal with a global crisis like the one we are in. Our lives are unavoidably different in the wake of COVID-19 and they are unlikely to change anytime soon. Under such circumstances it would be sage advice to accept the “new normals” be it our new routines, our roles as parents, changing family dynamics or the things we have to adapt to keep joy, connection and fresh possibility in our lives.