The world has been living with COVID-19 for approximately a year and a half, and as marketing campaigns and feel-good social media accounts regularly tell us, these are unprecedented times. Apart from the danger of the virus, the world population is experiencing a period of intense, prolonged stress, the likes of which none of us has ever experienced before. If you’re not feeling your best, that’s okay! It’s okay to not be at 100% productive capacity with a global pandemic happening. What is important is to find ways to healthily navigate this new environment, particularly as a parent or guardian teaching a child how to successfully function in the world.
Before we can look to how to manage as a parent in a pandemic, we need to look at how to manage as a person. One very important practice to remember is to exercise self-compassion. To understand that you require care and protection and taking the steps to take care of yourself in all ways is to practice self-compassion. Your compassionate self feels a sense of duty and courage to provide you with care. Take the time to introspect and see what the you that wants to protect you is telling you that you need; whether that be to stop a particular habit, connect with a person, or something as simple as to take a nap.
This environment is as new to you as it is to your children. They are looking to you for guidance and are spending more time than ever observing and learning from you, their parents. This is a highly appropriate time to do some construction; the interpersonal kind. Build a connection with your children. You can do this in a few ways, like:
Build a plan – identify and anticipate tantrum/distress triggers. Help them build a plan to regulate their more challenging emotions
Build competence – give your child responsibilities and meaningful jobs around the home; involve them in tasks that they can do safely for their age and ability
Build self-esteem – praise when they’ve done well, teach and encourage when mistakes are made
Build problem-solving skills – give opportunities for your children to provide and implement solutions to problems. Listen and teach.
Build respect – give love and kindness. Listen respectfully, speak plainly. Remember, respect is a two-way street. You need to demonstrate respect for them in order to receive respect from them.
Here are some tips for managing yourself and your household.
Remember, always do what feels safe and right for you; not every tip will apply to every person or situation:
Physical maintenance can boost your mood and keep you energized. This can be as simple as checking and adjusting your posture (to a comfortable but capable-feeling position) or incorporating a walk or exercise video into your daily routine.
Relationship audit and edit – do your part to make your significant relationships mutually healthy. Reflect, talk it out, and make changes where necessary.
Establish work zones – if you work from home and your children are schooling from home, establish organised dedicated spaces for working/doing schoolwork.
Create structure – having and sticking to a routine helps maintain a sense of normalcy for everyone. Don’t forget to include down and fun time in that structure!
DUO: Downsize, Update & Organize – avoid making commitments to your time and energy that overextend yourself. Re-evaluate your roles and responsibilities and establish healthy boundaries. Avoid clutter and stay organized. Where practical, practice decluttering and organizing spaces as you use them.
One thing you can use to help organize and prioritize your tasks is the Eisenhower Matrix:
This information was adapted from one of our recent online workshops in collaboration with United Way Trinidad and Tobago titled “Parenting in the Age of Covid”, which was delivered by psychologists Akilah Riley-Richardson and Dana Kanhai.
Our organization delivers workshops like these on various topics, and we also provide support groups, webinars, individual counselling services and more! ParentingTT is dedicated to providing family support and parent education services, all with the aim of facilitating innovative parenting to create safer homes for children all over Trinidad and Tobago.
ParentingTT is currently operating in a virtual/online capacity.
If you would like to learn more, please contact them at [email protected] or at 389-6928 / 390-2802 / 385-4968.