Updated: May 12, 2020
Anyone who has been on an airplane knows the phrase “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” It is important to remember that engaging in self-care does not mean you are being selfish. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of your family.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Overnight you have become a teacher, playmate, and provider on top of your role as a parent.
We know every family is different, but below are some ideas that most households can implement tomorrow.
Create a routine: It is easy to wake up whenever you want when you have nowhere that you need to go. However, establishing a schedule provides structure and consistency.
Schedule in YOU time: Find a time that works naturally and devote it to something relaxing and enjoyable, even if that means your child gets some extra iPad time. Are you the first one to wake up in the morning? Use that time to take a walk, listen to music, or enjoy a cup of coffee in silence.
Video chat: Arrange a time with a friend or family member to video chat. Seeing the face of someone new will help break up the monotony that accompanies self-isolation.
Plan an activity you enjoy: Always wanted to take yoga but never had time? Many classes are available on video platforms like Zoom. Planning an enjoyable activity into your schedule will give you something to look forward to.
Prioritize sleep: Sticking to a bed time for your children and yourself helps to ensure you get enough sleep.
Stay active: Moving around releases endorphins which helps you experience joy. Staying active can be as simple as going for a walk around your neighborhood as a family.
HOUSEHOLDS WITH MULTIPLE ADULTS
Quarantining in a house with multiple adults may seem easier to many people but it is frustrating when you feel you always have to ask the other person for help or if you feel you are constantly being nagged when you need some alone time to relax or work.
Sometimes too much time together can create hostility in even the most harmonious relationships.
Create a schedule: Determine times of the day when a specific adult is responsible for your child. This helps to even up responsibilities and allows working parents some guaranteed time to focus.
Make a point to be a couple: Something as easy as holding hands can help relieve some relationship tension. Or try planning in a date night to your week and share a special meal with your significant other.
HOUSEHOLDS WITH ONE ADULT
Being the sole caregiver for your child is stressful in the best of times. In this difficult time, you are being stretched to the limit with no one to share the burden with. It is especially difficult for solo parents to feel comfortable dedicating time to self-care.
Talk to other grownups: Text, call, or video chat with another adult a few times a week. Keep in touch with friends and family.
Devote some time to who you are: It is a wonderful thing to be a parent, but remember who you are outside of your child. Try to find a few minutes to enjoy YOUR hobbies.
Rewards for you and your child: Token economies are a way for a child to earn a reward. If you child enjoys self-contained activities that can be completed with little supervision, use the activity to reward your child and yourself. An extra episode of PAW Patrol means you have 30 minutes to do yoga, read a book, or listen to music.
We know self-care can feel selfish, but we're here to tell you that it's a necessary part of parenting during a pandemic. We're also here to provide remote behavioral support and virtual entertainment for your child if you need some extra help!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katherine "Kitty" Martin is a Registered Behavior Technician at The Language and Behavior Center. She works with parents on a daily basis and understands the multiple sources that contribute to a parent's mental load. Kitty believes self-care is a powerful way to manage the overwhelming stress that comes with parenting while quarantined.