More Than Masks: 5 Mental Health Tips for Parenting In A Pandemic
You don’t have to be super mom.
If you’re a parent and you’re reading this, you’re likely struggling with the challenges that come from raising kids during a global health crisis. It’s a time that brings new problems, stresses and pressures and that’s so true of what we have been seeing within our Memorial Healthcare System patient families, and even with our own staff. You’re not alone.
Managing a schedule can be a challenge during a pandemic. You’re either juggling remote learning or you might be getting exposure notices your child has been exposed to the virus at school (or fears they might).
We all hoped this would be over soon and here we are almost a year later, still dealing with the day to day realities of COVID-19. The release of a vaccine is promising but rolling it out hasn’t been without bumps in the road.
The uncertainty around how long this is all going to last can leave us feeling weary. We’ve seen parents having to leave the workforce to make pandemic life work for their family and the income impacts of becoming a single income household can create its own challenges.
We talked to Tammy Tucker, PsyD, associate administrator at Memorial Regional Hospital, to get her tips on how best to navigate these challenging times.
1. Take Care of Yourself
You’re going through so much and your body is going to help get you through it. Try to eat healthy, prioritize sleep, and move your body, even if it’s just a walk around the block. If you’re finding it’s hard to get that time in, put it on your calendar or schedule a reminder in your phone, and make a date with yourself for fitness.
2. Give Yourself A Break
One of the most important things you can exercise is self-compassion. Find shortcuts to make life easier, whether it’s pre-chopped veggies or already baked cookies. Take the time you save to do things you enjoy, like reading a book or taking a bath.
3. Make A Bubble
Many parents are finding comfort in creating social circles with other parents in their neighborhood with similar risk practices so they can safely socialize. Getting to have coffee with someone who understands what you are going through can make all the difference for yourself and your kids. Being able to trade child care so you can get your to do list done can reduce stress as well.
Remember to practice safety in this time of COVID-19.
4. Check In With Yourself
Keep an eye on signs you might need professional support. If you find you are having big feelings and outbursts about minor problems, you’re tired all the time or crying unexpectedly, it might be time to talk to someone. There’s no shame in doing that, these are tough times and you deserve support.
5. Reach Out and Get Help
If you’re not comfortable with in-person services, telehealth is a great way to safely get the help you need. You can find additional resources by visiting Memorial Healthcare System or 2-1-1 Broward. They have a local resources inventory and we use it in the hospital to refer parents and make sure they get what they need.
It feels like a cliche to say these are uncertain times, but that’s the reality. All you can do is your best and know that if you’re having a hard time, we are here to help. We care so much about your health and wellness and want you to be okay. We have resources, time and compassion for you and your family.
Stay safe, and be well and know that your mental health matters.