It’s been nine months (and counting), and parents are ready to throw in the towel on quarantining. Whether kids are bouncing off the walls at home or you’re trying to keep a toddler from screaming during your work call, parents can’t catch a break.
With growing COVID cases nationwide, stay at home orders have come back like a bad case of deja vu. As more businesses close, those furloughed or laid off also need to figure out their next move while caring for children.
Regardless of which category you fall into, parenting during the quarantine has been incredibly stressful. To help you stay somewhat sane in the new normal, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips for these unprecedented times.
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Remember you’re in this together
Even though you love your partner, confinement is not necessarily what you signed up for when you said: “I do.” Maybe your partner hasn’t been able to practice jiujitsu for months and has been going through withdrawal.
Not being able to socialize regularly has also driven up the loneliness factor.
If you have young kids running around, it can be easy to turn your anger onto your partner. Triggers are easy to find when someone forgets to empty the dishwasher or do the laundry. You resent the circumstances, not each other (hopefully), but it’s tough to remember.
You aren’t failing your kids
Parental guilt never goes away. Rather than look for another reason to beat yourself up for, focus on what’s been working. You’re probably spending more time with the kids. Even if sometimes there’s conflict, you’re showing up for them.
The toughest guilt may come from worrying about your child falling behind in school or missing out on kid activities. Just remember that young kids have an incredible capacity to learn and adjust. Some of them are probably adapting to quarantine better than parents are.
Take a school break
If you’ve been homeschooling, you may have discovered that the daily school schedule doesn’t need to be intense, especially for younger kids. You may even suspect now that a full school day for preschoolers functions as daycare.
Teaching your own kid is one of the toughest jobs for your sanity. Both you and your child could use a break, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t stress if you don’t feel like your child is getting ahead academically. There will be time to catch up next year.
Celebrate small wins
There are usually silver linings. Quarantining has created opportunities for healthier home cooking. You now appreciate being able to go out with friends more than ever. Maybe you’ve even gotten closer to a “quarantine family” for playdates. If you’ve escaped the year healthy and without major health issues in the family, count your blessings.
In some areas, playgrounds were closed in the beginning of quarantine and seem to be in danger of closing again. Having space for kids to run around is crucial, and there’s no better way for kids to burn off energy!
Fresh air is also necessary to clear your head. Sitting inside for hours stressing about work and unruly children is enough to take anyone over the edge. If the playgrounds do close, go for walks and get outside.
Stick with a routine
That schedule you stuck to the wall and swore by the first week of quarantine has probably gone out the window by now. Even so, having a routine really does help children know what to expect.
You’re allowed to change the routine as needed, but some sort of structure might keep the tantrums at bay.
Build in self care throughout the day
If you manage to get a few minutes in the morning to yourself, you might be living on another planet. Most parents are too exhausted and end up sleeping right through until the kids come barging in. Self-care – what’s that?
Even though it’s easier to focus on the screaming kid or your work responsibilities, take a few minutes for deep breathing and at least attempted relaxation. The stress of the last few months has taken a toll but hopefully, we’re in the closing innings.
Try blocking off small bits time to focus on yourself. Even if it’s only a few minutes bookended by chaos, try meditating or praying, reciting positive affirmations, or just a short stretch. Any activity that can get you back into a positive mental state will help you tackle the day.
Ask for support
In-person help may be tough to source, but if you can pop your child in front of zoom with grandma for thirty minutes, go for it. You may have bigger concerns than whether or not your child gets more screen time. If you’re having difficulty with making ends meet there are financial resources available.
The recent federal stimulus bill will be sending credit of $1,200 for each adult, $2,400 for married couples and $600 for each qualifying dependant. If you received a stimulus payment in 2020, it is likely you and your family will qualify for a second round of direct payments.
With government benefits and paychecks, you can get paid up to 2 days early with a MoneyLion RoarMoney account. RoarMoney has no balance minimums and cashback rewards, all for $1 a month.
We’re in this together
Do what works for you, and don’t sweat the little things. Practice kindness and compassion with yourself and your family, and remember that you’re a team. Go outside for some fresh air, and try not to worry too much about the academic school year.
Look out for the second round of stimulus checks for an added boost. If you linked your stimulus payments to your RoarMoney account using the IRS Get My Payment website the first time, they should be processed automatically again.