Parenting through the Pandemic: We Can Do This
5 ways to build confidence, connection, and control as we navigate the constant uncertainty of our current world.
The pandemic has thrown many ups and downs — and the unpredictability has meant we have to be extremely agile in dealing with sudden changes to our home life. The last year has been particularly challenging for working parents. In the U.K. the closure of schools has meant the distant memory of juggling homeschooling with work and other commitments has once again become a reality. We are feeling a strong sense of deja vu as we try to muscle through this situation, and it is no surprise that it is taking its toll.
Recent findings from the University of Oxford report an increase in levels of stress, depression, and anxiety among parents and carers during lockdown. Specific challenges include difficulty relaxing, being fearful and worried as well as more irritable and agitated. While individual circumstances have a lot of influence there are things we can do to ease the burden.
According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review as working parents, we should aim to achieve the 3 C’s: Confidence, connection, and control. There are some things we can do to help us on our way:
#1—Be Realistic and Focus on One Thing at a Time
Whether it is homeschooling, getting your monthly report done for work, or cooking dinner you need to “switch off” from other activities for that time. Scheduling is the key. Work with your employer to see what adjustments are needed to your normal working day. Think about your days in advance and plan out what to do when. Be clear with your employer what your availability looks like and discuss what flexibility is required. Find a pattern that will work for you and your family.
Be clear with your employer what your availability looks like and discuss what flexibility is required.
#2—Create a Support Network
Working parents can often feel alone but there are many others facing similar dilemmas to you. Clinical psychologist Dr. Roslyn Law talks about how connections have got us through the challenges in recent months. Whether it is your colleagues at work, other school parents, or friends and family it will help to talk about your experiences. Sharing how you are feeling and getting advice from others will help you to increase your survival tool kit.
#3—Try Being a Child
I don’t mean having a tantrum when we do not get our way (although that may help to ease some stress). According to the well-being website Positivepsychology.com, one way to practice mindfulness is to see the world through a child’s eyes. Unlike us, children relish the moment, they think about the immediate and they do not worry about tomorrow.
So, throw away your to-do-list and focus on the here and now by spending some role-playing with the children.
You have probably seen this in every well-being article, but exercise is really important for your physical and mental health. And if you can get outside to do it even better. For me having the kids at home means I am getting outside more, and the fresh air really does wonders for all of us. You can make it exciting by exploring different routes together.
For me having the kids at home means I am getting outside more, and the fresh air really does wonders for all of us.
#5—Get Some “Me” Time
This might be difficult but pin down times of the day or week when you can have some time to yourself to do things you enjoy. Whether it is a date with Netflix, trying out that new recipe, reading, or listening to that new record. It is important to be able to collect your thoughts and recharge.
Remember we are not in this situation forever and there will be a time when things go back to some kind of “normal.” Soon enough you will be ironing uniforms, waking up super early to get the kids out of bed, and rushing them to get ready for school. And who knows — you might even find the house eerily quiet and miss the days when they kept you company at home.
As working parents, we need to stand together and take control of our situation, however temporary it may be. The worst thing you can do is not take any action and try and carry on as normal. Remember control, connection, and confidence. We’ve got this.