The COVID-19 pandemic has done so much to uproot most people’s sense of normalcy. Almost everyone has been affected in some way. For parents, however, the pandemic has brought several unique challenges to the forefront.
While there might be an end in sight, thanks to the vaccine rollout, the pandemic is still here in full force, and the effects of it will likely linger for quite some time.
So, what are some of the unique parenting challenges caused by COVID-19? How can you deal with them and be there for your children while still taking care of yourself?
Learning to Live in Lockdown
At the height of the pandemic, the term “lockdown” became a big part of everyone’s vocabulary. It brought so many changes and challenges all at once for adults and kids alike, including things like:
- Working from home
- Virtual learning
- Restaurant closures
- Social distancing
- Staying away from family and friends not in your household
It’s not hard to see how each one of these situations can be difficult. But, for kids, it can be even harder. Children thrive on routine and structure, and the pandemic threw a huge wrench in that. In many cases, it also caused families to spend nearly every second together, especially if you’ve been working from home.
You can overcome the challenges of lockdown by keeping a routine and creating more structure, especially if you’re sharing the same space all day. Try to balance your time together and your time alone so no one feels overwhelmed.
One of the bigger challenges is having to miss out on important events. Kids have been “robbed” for over a year of things like sports, extracurricular activities, and even gatherings and parties. If you’re still not comfortable getting together with a large group of people, do what you can to make sure your family stays connected. Try something like a virtual birthday party with friends and family to make your child feel special on their big day. Or, make sure they can video chat with their friends at least once a day.
Connection is hugely important to avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s just as crucial for you as it is for your child. So, make every effort to communicate with the people you care about every day, and make sure your whole family is doing the same.
Managing Mental Health
Medical professionals have recently started to stir about the rise of another pandemic that could sweep the world – a mental health pandemic. Because of the challenges caused by COVID-19, more people are dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression. A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau in December found that 42% of people reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, which was up 11% from the year before.
It’s not just adults dealing with mental health struggles. According to the CDC, kids and teens are facing unique challenges due to the pandemic that could impact their mental state, including:
- Changes to routine
- Breaks in learning
- Missing out on time with friends
- Missing significant events in their lives
- A loss of security
As a parent, the challenge you face is two-fold. It’s important to take care of your own mental health and practice self-care. But, it’s also crucial to make sure your child is working through this. Be sure to check in with them frequently to see how they’re handling all of these changes. Helping them cope with anxiety or stress is important, and it may even require some extra help from a therapist or counselor.
Dealing With Personal Strains
While COVID-19 has impacted everyone in different ways, it’s okay to accept that some of your challenges may be more unique than others. The pandemic wreaked havoc on the American job market. From March-June 2020, there were almost 50 million new unemployment benefit claims. If you lost your job or your hours were cut back, you might be dealing with financial issues. Maybe you’ve damaged your credit as a result, and you’re working to repair it.
Some people are in co-parenting situations, which can be difficult with things like lockdowns and restrictions in place. It’s important to find a plan that works for you, your co-parent, and your child to keep everyone safe and healthy. You might find that your custody schedules need to be modified for a while to reduce the amount of “back and forth,” but that can be hard on everyone.
Maybe you’re even struggling with the loss of someone you love. If you’re trying to go through the grieving process but you feel like you can’t fully “let go,” that will end up creating a lot more stress.
Everyone has their own situations to deal with because of this pandemic. That doesn’t mean your personal strains are less important. Acknowledging your feelings and struggles will help you to manage your mental health, to be there for your child, and to get through these uncertain times as a family.