With many temporarily laid off or trying to work from home, schools cancelled for the remainder of the year and no ability for kids or parents to decompress with friends—we find ourselves with the perfect ingredients for potentially troubling family dynamics.
If the ripple effect of COVID-19 prevention measures has left you with a lot more, or more intense parenting time than you think you can manage, take heart in knowing that you’re not alone.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind that may help you find a little bit of balance in a time when you’re being pulled in a million different directions.
Adjust Your Expectations
These are completely unprecedented times, and the one thing you can count on is that you, and your children, will respond in unexpected ways. Some days will be ‘just another Wednesday.’ Other days will feel like the Wednesday you climbed Everest.
The key during the difficult days is to stay focused on what’s important. Do you and your kids need to be fed, watered and cared for/comforted when in need? Absolutely yes. Do your kids need to have perfectly balanced meals every time they eat? Probably not. Are they getting more screen time than you ever thought you’d allow? That’s fine too. Are you unable to work at the same high capacity while also being a super parent? You and the rest of us out there! This won’t last forever, and it’s all completely abnormal. Neither you nor your kids will remember what you had for lunch that one day (or week!), you’ll just remember the strangeness of the times and how different things were as a whole.
Routines Breed Resilience
This is less about developing a chart that has the day planned for your whole family in 15-minute increments and more about maintaining the big routines—wake up, bedtime/naptime, daily chores, segmented work time, family meals, exercise, etc. Children are less resilient to stress when it’s unpredictable, extreme and prolonged, and are more resilient when they have control over these routine and significant aspects of their lives.
Once you’ve reached peak routine performance with the big stuff, consider branching out to find ways to keep hold of the smaller routines or establish new ones where you can. Did your kids regularly see a specific group of children on a certain day/time? Try to maintain that through a video chat that you set up or encourage older children to set it up on their own. And nothing says ‘socially distant fun’ like a regular family game nights or ladder ball/bocce ball/freeze tag yard Olympics.
This has and will continue to take a village to get through and there’s no time like the present to access the resources available to you for support.
First, try to maintain regular contact with your friends, family and other parents who will understand the challenges you’re facing. The ability to decompress with someone you trust cannot be understated.
Next, remember that accessing mental health supports as a caregiver to your children is an excellent way to ensure you’ll remain resilient for yourself and for them for as long as you need to. Check to see if your employer provides an Employee Assistance Program or psychology benefit. Most clinicians are continuing to provide counselling services through phone or video and oftentimes your children and partner will also be covered should they need to connect with a professional.
No matter how you approach these times with your kids, the most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to feel right now. You know your kids best and, for the most part, they’ll be inclined to follow your lead. Be gentle on yourself, ask for help when you need it, stick to the big routines, make room for fun and look forward to the days when this is all a distant memory.
Business Assistance Services: Support for Your Whole Business
If you’re a business owner with benefits through Chambers Plan, don’t forget about supports available to you through Arete’s Business Assistance Services (BAS). Simply call Arete at 1-877-412-7483 with your Firm and Certificate number to access confidential and professional guidance to help you navigate human resources, financial and legal situations, as well as critical incidents that may arise at your organization.
Through BAS, you also gain access to the Healthy Business Bookmark™, a carefully curated online library of business information and resources, including sample forms, how-to guides, podcasts and videos. This site is designed to help you manage your business and your employees while recovering from the unique challenges this pandemic has created. It ensures you have access to the resources you need to shore up your future success.
Check out the Healthy Business Bookmark today through the link on your my-benefits® portal.