The Corona Virus pandemic began like a scene out of a future dystopian movie. It started as rumors of a deadly new virus that no one quite knew how it started. The one thing that everyone agreed upon was that it was deadly, and killing people by the scores. The various conflicting bits of news concerning the virus, coupled with its “novelty” and the fact that scientists all over the world seemed stumped about how best to go about creating a cure or vaccine for the virus; really didn’t make a lot of sense in our modern society. What have we been working for as a global community if not to protect ourselves from something like this?
As the virus became less of a myth across the sea and came nearer to home, the uncertainty about it turned to worry. And as more and more people became infected and the media’s very public death toll rose, the worry about what would happen if people went about their everyday interactions turned into outright fear. Now, businesses started to be shut down and people were put out of work. Some businesses are even still shut down 12 weeks later (at the time of this writing).
In a bid to control the spread of the virus, and in a totally unprecedented manner, workplaces and businesses being closed, schools being shut down and a total lockdown state being enforced, people are essentially becoming prisoners in their own homes. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, the feelings of stress, anxiety, panic, vulnerability and fear mounted. And as well it should, because no one alive now has ever witnessed anything like this. Governments and world powers are flummoxed; and every day, more questions are asked than there are answers to.
For the past months, parents have been stuck in their homes with their children, and the toll is starting to tell. They have been overworked and stressed. They have been dealing with the reality of possible unemployment staring them in the face, having to homeschool their children, while trying to pay bills. We can say that now there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel because businesses are reopening but the impact will be longstanding. We’re seeing businesses looted and riots not just as a result of the atrocity against George Floyd and others murdered by the police like him, but because we’ve come to ahead with the stress level of uncertainty and where to go from here.
In these trying times, it is important that parents try to maintain a semblance of normalcy for themselves, the children, and the family at large.
Here a few pointers to help parents accomplish that:
While it is important to keep abreast of happenings around you, you should know when it is time to leave well enough alone. Social media and news outlets are replete with various bits of news, some of which are absolutely untrue, and can be damaging to your state of mind and emotional well-being. There comes a time when any intake of information becomes too much information. Once in a while, take a break from the news and give yourself some really deserved peace and rest of mind. Reading about who got infected where or how a quest for a vaccine failed or how the unemployment system is broken will do nothing to help you, especially if you do not actively take steps to protect your energy and mental health about the impacts of what you’re reading. Stay informed, but do not overdo it.
Children are quite possibly the most affected demographics by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are cooped up at home, cannot go to school, and cannot play with their friends. My own children even said they were nervous to ask their friends for sleepovers because it is “the age of Corona”. Our older kids are disoriented, and younger kids have only a vague idea at best, or more likely, no idea at all of what is going on. That’s why it’s important that you make time to have meaningful conversations with them. It is not just enough that you talk at them, it is more important that you listen to them. Answer their questions, and try as much as possible to allay their fears without giving them a false sense of assurance. Give them age-appropriate information so that they are well-informed. Recognize their feelings and do not expect too much from them when it comes to end of the year school-work. Help them maintain normal routines if you can and give them ample time off to relax and goof off. Keep them involved in family life, and allow them to make their own little contributions to help you in some of the chores. Let them keep in contact with their friends and close relatives through phone calls or Facetime.
Staying at home for hours on end may leave you or the children wanting to indulge in things you ordinarily would not do. (We’ve eaten way to many pretzels here.) When children are bored or have nothing to do, they may misbehave. When that happens, try to enforce positive discipline. Lovingly correct whatever attitude you deem appropriate and focus on outcomes. Creating fun parts in the daily schedule and encouraging your kids with things like passion planning can give them power over their day.
Be in Control
It is difficult to be in control of something that you have not planned for. The reality of the COVID-19 has shown the entire world that however much in control we think we are, life sometimes throws a curveball at us. That does not mean that we should lie down and quietly wait to die. It simply means that we should hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Do your utmost best to be prepared for any eventuality – the virus coming into your community, for instance – and have a contingency plan for any of these eventualities.
Bottom-line: You Matter Too
Adults are expected to be put together. But it’s alright if you’re not. It’s ok to fall apart when the world isn’t sure what it’s doing. The key is not to stay broken apart. The pandemic has affected everyone, and life as we know it may not revert to the way it was. It is okay to feel overwhelmed or overcome sometimes. When that happens, communicate your fears to people you trust. When you feel stuffed in the house, it is alright to have a little outdoor time for yourself. Your mental and physical well-being are important, but so are your kids’, so if you feel like you’re in break down, seek out supportive shoulders that can lovingly lead your vulnerable children while you get space to figure out next steps. It is not being selfish if you take some time off for yourself, and there are people in your life who want to help you.
Stay Positive and follow Crewchildcare‘s blog.