Parenting During COVID-19 Lockdown
by Sam & Joh
Can’t believe it’s already almost a year into lockdown. The past couple of months can feel like a blur when we are spending all of our time at home; but luckily we have Phoebe our lockdown baby arrive who makes our days exciting and special!
After the initial panic buying and preparations when the first announcements were made, we may have felt on top of things as parents at the onset. However, as time progressed, schools and play areas closed and baby and toddler classes cancelled, making parenting during COVID-19 lockdown increasingly difficult.
Some of our usual routines have changed, meal plans haven’t gone as planned and holidays have gone up in smoke for many of us. There are things we said we’d never do as parents that we may have found ourselves resorting to, simply for the sake of preserving our sanity. Parenting guilt may have also creeped on occasion, but that’s just life.
During this lockdown, we’ve had to take on various roles as head teacher, head mistress, nurse, nanny, 24-hour cook, guidance counsellor, and tablet repair technician. We have all this on our plate as well as possibly working from home and having to be wife, nurturer and caregiver. It’s a lot. We really weren’t made to fill all these roles and moreover fill each of them at the same time. Some of us may seemingly be faring well at it, but many of us are truly struggling and reasonably so.
As first time parents, we were hoping for family members to come visit us here in the UK and get at least some support in the first couple of months after Phoebe is born. With the travel restrictions changing everyday and also not wanting to risk our family members' health, we have made the difficult decision to cancel their visit and wing this parenting thing ourselves!
We've put together some tips we found useful to mentally cope as parents.
Maintain Healthy Routines,But Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
Maintaining healthy daily routines is a great way to structure your day and that of your children. It also helps reduce anxiety and stress, by knowing beforehand what the plan of action is for the day, even if it’s just setting mealtimes and bedtimes. Following safety protocols such as social distancing and handwashing are also daily routines that we must maintain and get our children to maintain.
We should also be conscious that these routines don’t become a source of stress and anxiety in themselves. We may fall out of routine from time to time and our kids may not be as compliant to our routines or rules as we’d like them to be all the time. It happens. We may even feel more pressured when we talk to other parents or see other parents on social media and their kids seem so well-behaved, well-nourished and even-tempered. Bear in mind that although maintaining routine is important, we have to be very careful about striking the right balance between how much we allow routine to govern our day-to-day lives and that of our children.
Try To Be Present With Your Kids
It can get quite demanding when our time is being pulled from all ends of life. Even amidst the hustle and bustle of household chores and homeschooling, we may be physically present with our children, but absent in mind with everything else. Sometimes, it’s good to just take a break from the dishes or from that work email and spend a minute or two with our children. They are struggling to cope just as we are, although they may show it in different ways, we may misinterpret if we’re not paying attention.
So try to actually spend some time with your kids once in a while, despite your endless to-do list or the temptation of your phone or tablet. It would mean so much to them and help them feel more secure and safe. Before we know it, we’ll be looking into the faces of grown men and women and this time we have now would be lost. So try to cherish these moments as best as you can and memorialise special occasions like birthdays, in simple, meaningful ways to them, even while on lockdown. You’ll be so glad that you did.
One good thing coming out of this lockdown is the the time spent with our family and memories made together, so let's all make the most out of it!
Celebrate the Little Wins
We often praise or reward our children on their accomplishments, big or small, yet belittle our own successes sometimes. Each day of this pandemic, we’ve had to deal with challenges and realities that we may not have guessed we’d be faced with right now or at least not so soon in life. It’s easy to see all our shortcomings and how far we’ve missed ‘the mark’ and not so easy to see the small wins along the way. It’s so easy to look at how our finances may be dwindling without realising how well we’ve learned to survive with so little and still be alive.
You may have even had to make some tough decisions and cut down on non-essential spending for the sake of survival, but you are certainly not alone. Survival has now become the new way to thrive, so don’t neglect your efforts, big or small. You’ve come a far way through this pandemic and that’s reason enough to celebrate. So cheers to you!
Connect With Other Parents In The Struggle
As the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers”, there is also strength in shared experiences and pandemic realities. You may be surprised to know that someone you know is facing a similar struggle with parenting during a pandemic, that you thought may have been so peculiar and specific to your own life. There is real comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your struggle as a parent, especially while on lockdown.
As parents, we may experience mental breaking points in ways we’re not proud of, ways we may not even understand or articulate ourselves. This may even be reflected in how we communicate with our partners, who may be just as confused as we are. It’s important to connect with other parents who may be having similar struggles as you are facing and listen to the different approaches taken to better their parenting. There are various groups you can join on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or other social media platforms that can provide a safe, trusted space and the community support that you need during this lockdown.
We would love to hear your tips and hacks during this lockdown, please leave a comment below or send us a message.
We hope you find this entry useful, here are some links for further reading:https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/parenting-during-coronavirus-outbreak