How To Practice Self-Care as a Parent During COVID-19
Last updated on : October 20 2020
Becoming a great parent always has a steep learning curve. It takes practice and patience to master the art of caring for your child while still finding the time to tend to your own needs.
Toss a pandemic into the mix, and the entire process of "finding a balance between your and your familial needs" can feel nearly impossible.
The good news is that you're not alone, nor do you need to throw in the towel when it comes to balancing your self-care and familial responsibilities. Here are eight of the best ways to tend to your parental activities and still find time for yourself, even in the midst of an isolating and, at times, stressful pandemic.
1. Learn to Limit Screen Time
One of the most significant contributors to stress, anxiety, and bad attitudes is the overuse of screens. The CDC reported that children already used screens for a whopping 7.5 hours per day before online school started. Adults are even more trapped by their digital devices, clocking in at as much as 12 hours of screen time per day.
Parents and children's need to conduct work and school activities online during the pandemic exacerbates the time spent on screens.
One of the first and most effective ways to bring a sense of balance back to your life is by finding ways to get those screen hours down. For children, experts generally recommend that they take in no more than two or fewer hours of on-screen entertainment per day.
As an adult, the task shouldn't revolve so much around quantity as quality. Ask yourself what value you're getting out of the various ways that you use screens. As you do so, look for areas where you can cut out screen time with minimal loss.
2. Separate Work, School, and Family Time
Another critical aspect of restoring balance during COVID-19 is understanding the impact of working from home and homeschooling on your family life. Left unchecked, remote work and the virtual school can consume every waking moment.
If you want to maintain a sense of clarity and purpose in your parental and personal activities, take steps to maintain a distinction between each of the essential endeavors taking place under your roof. You can do this by:
- creating clear spaces for each activity, such as a home office for work, a desk for school, and a living room for recreation.
- Setting work- and school-life boundaries, such as specific hours of the day devoted to homework or times that your family "unplugs" together.
- Turning off notifications and devices when you're not working or your child isn't participating in class.
- Always remaining aware of and striving to cultivate a sense of school- and work-life balance throughout your home.
If you can find ways to separate and structure the various activities on the homefront, it can help maintain a sense of predictability and control.
3. Understand the Need to "Make" Time
Balance can be challenging to find when you rarely get time to yourself. Nevertheless, as a parent, your day-to-day reality is typically focused on your dependents. From school needs and bedtimes to food and potty training, there's always something to take up your time.
With that in mind, if you want to find a sense of balance once again, you must learn to "make" time. Making time for yourself is a skill that every parent must learn as more parental responsibilities dictate their home time.
While the ongoing lack of complete control over your life can often feel impossible to reconcile, in reality, it's more of an adjustment than a loss. Sure, you can't sleep in or take a bath whenever the mood takes you, but that doesn't mean those activities are off-limits. On the contrary, they only require a little planning. Hence the need to "make" time.
As you settle into your home-focused school and work schedules, look for opportunities where you can take some time for yourself. Do your children sleep well in the evenings or sleep late in the mornings? Do they take predictable naps? Are they occupied with school at certain times of the day? These factors can serve as opportunities to indulge in some self-care, as long as you're willing to work within the bounds of your more inflexible responsibilities.
4. Regularly Plan Stay at Home Date Nights
If you have a partner in your parenting labors, one of the most important reasons to make time is to spend it with each other. Investing in your couple relationship is a critical aspect of maintaining sanity and long-term balance within a home. Without opportunities to talk, interact, and generally spend quality time together, parents can often drift apart and feel separated by the many responsibilities that demand their attention.
Fortunately, planning regular date nights with your significant other can also double as a chance for you to indulge in a little fun self-care as well. In a COVID-19 world where, for the time being, 99% of our activities take place within the four walls of our home - don't miss the opportunity to spruce up, take a shower, put on makeup, and pick out some nice clothes.
5. Identify Wants Versus Needs
The difference between a want and a need is an important distinction — especially when finding balance and taking time for self-care. Chances are, with so much on your plate, you'll have limited windows of time to care for your personal needs. If you squander that time away, taking a bubble bath or playing a video game, you may find those essential things, like feminine hygiene or even eating properly, will fall to the wayside.
If you want to find balance in your parental lifestyle, organize your activities into wants and needs. You can even take things a step further and prioritize each of the two lists. For instance, if you've included taking a shower and losing weight on your needs plan, you'll likely need to focus on the former sooner.
To organize and prioritize your activities whenever you get a moment to yourself. You can make sure you've addressed basic needs like brushing your teeth or changing your underwear before you indulge in something else - remembering exercise is important too.
6. Teach Your Kids to Embrace Boredom
Sometimes you can lose the balance and poise within your home simply because there's too much going on. If you're raising a child, helping them with online school, working from home, and running your household all at once, you're almost certainly going to be too busy most of the time.
However, that doesn't mean your kids will always feel the same way. Particularly if you're trying to curb excessive screen time, you may find that your quarantined children get bored often. If boredom is creating a sense of unease and unbalance in your home, you can restore the peace by encouraging your kids to participate in creative and constructive activities, like:
- Building a fort.
- Playing outside.
- Doing an art project.
- Playing with Play-Doh or clay.
- Writing a letter.
- Drawing with chalk.
The specific activity doesn't necessarily matter much. However, whatever your child does, it should focus on allowing them to exercise creativity in one way or another.
Figuring out how to handle boredom is an integral part of the learning process. It can even catalyze greater creativity. By allowing your kids to conquer boredom through curated, creativity-focused suggestions, you can help them learn to occupy themselves when they need to healthily.
7. Keep Your Social Lifelines (Remotely) Open
Finally, if you find that detaching from "parent mode" is nearly impossible, you may want to reach out to a friend or family member to help shake you out of your current mindset. While social distancing has made regular meet-ups difficult, there are still many different ways to connect with other adults for some quality conversation, such as:
- Calling each other on the phone.
- Texting to connect and see how you're doing.
- Connecting over a video chat.
- Having a "car hangout" with others in a parking lot with your windows rolled down.
Whatever the particular mode of communication, if you can occasionally find times to connect — even if it's just a quick text — can help you feel less lonely in your parental pandemic journey.
8. Finding Balance as a Parent in a Pandemic
Who would have thought just a few short years ago that we'd be discussing the challenges of being a parent in a pandemic? While the current reality boggles the mind, it doesn't change the fact that parenting during COVID-19 is an exhausting proposition. It takes tremendous fortitude, focus, energy, and endurance.
It also requires a sustained effort to find and maintain some balance on the homefront.
So, whether you're reaching out to a friend, creating work- and school-life boundaries, setting up a home date, or anything else, start reclaiming a measure of balance in your own life today. If you can do that, you'll be much better off as you strive to maintain your life's personal and parental aspects throughout the unpredictable times that lie ahead.
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The Kewl Shop
The Kewl Shop is a blog. We write about all things lifestyle with a strong focus on relationships, self-love, beauty, fitness, and health. Important stuff that every modern woman or man needs to know.
Editor: Charles Fitzgerald