How To Stay Strong As A Parent During Crisis

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How To Parent During Crisis
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Being a parent during a crisis is hard. Here's how to make it easier.

Governor Cuomo recently declared that while no one said it was going to be easy, no one said it was going to be this hard, either.

Parents all over the country and the world have been learning on the fly how to parent in a crisis, and it's been a difficult learning process.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there's no real end in sight, which can make you wonder how you and your family will get through this.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Slow Down & Connect With Your Children At Home

So, how can you get through the pandemic and stay calm, strong, and sane? All while keeping your family and kids OK?

This is a COVID-19 check-in.

Can you hit that pause button and take a few deep breaths? Please take 10 minutes for yourself and just close your eyes.

Put your own oxygen mask on first.

I want to make sure you are being kind to yourselves and taking care of your own health. As a parent, you always have to remember to put our own oxygen masks on first, or you won’t be able to do your jobs as parents, spouses, or employees.

Remember: You already have skills and assets that will help you get through the challenges of this pandemic and come out even stronger.

How are you handling the uncertainty and anxiety of this new normal you're now living?

Are you keeping all the balls up in the air while you make sure your school-aged children are logged on to distance learning, doing their homework, your little ones are getting fed, diapered and put to sleep for their naps?

And let’s not forget your own work deadlines and sharing space with your spouse. Are you dealing with all the domestic chores, no cleaning help, and no more easy dinners out?

Going out for fresh air, food shopping, and doing all those tasks while maintaining social distance is a trial.

Is the handwashing and disinfecting getting to you? I know that if I have to leave the house several times during the day, I'm exhausted with the routine of washing my hands and wiping off my door-knobs and groceries.

How about the masks? Have you gotten everyone out of the house and then realized you forgot your masks or bottle of hand sanitizer? I now keep a spare mask and sanitizer in my jacket.

Spring is here, and it’s been beautiful outdoors. Density, however, is a problem when you go out with your family. More people are out these days, and social distancing and wearing masks are key to protecting yourself and the family.

Here are some helpful strategies for parenting during a crisis, so your family can survive this and come out stronger on the other side.

The only way out is through.

This principle of walking through fire and confronting your fears head-on has never been more relevant.

You wish you could wake up in the morning and this pandemic would be over. But take one day at a time, and be kind to yourself.

Remember to draw upon the stored resilience and experience you already have. You've gotten through rough periods before. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Take a few minutes at night to debrief and go over the events of the day. Is there something different you'd like to try tomorrow?

Be the best version of yourself as a parent and shout out to the kids.

If you've been a parent for a while, then you've already been working on and fine-tuning those parenting skills.

Not only has your life been turned upside down, but so have the lives of your children. Your kids can’t be with their friends and teachers and play together at school.

Now's the time to practice active listening and validate your children’s feelings — including their fears. Help them articulate what they're feeling.

Yes, there are lots of questions that you don’t have answers to. Be patient, be honest, and help them feel safe.

RELATED: A Pediatrician’s Guide To Parenting & Protecting Kids During COVID-19

One caveat is to be truthful, but make sure your answers are age-appropriate. Be mindful of over-sharing.

Stay educated about the pandemic by consulting the CDC guidelines and teaching your children how they can be in control by washing their hands.

There are wonderful resources online on how to talk to your children about COVID-19. You can also ask your pediatrician and kids' teachers for tips.

Your Facebook friends may be sharing free parenting Zoom webinars from a range of organizations. Kveller.com has super articles on parenting topics, too!

Be a positive role model and stay positive.

Your children take their cues from mom and dad. Positivity is contagious. Teach your children how to fill their lives with positive activities and thoughts to crowd out the negative things.

Research shows that unless you're occupied with positive thoughts, worrying is the brain’s default position. You can learn how to keep negative emotions and thoughts in check by amplifying positive emotions.

Great leaders know that a positive attitude can be contagious. You, as mom or dad, are the leader of your families.

Parents who are smiling and upbeat who practice a "half glass full" versus "half glass empty" outlook while expressing gratitude regularly can influence their children to adopt a positive mindset and perspective.

Positivity and gratitude also teach your kids coping skills and resilience.

Take a few minutes and ask your children to list a few things they're grateful for in the morning and the evening. You can do it as a family at breakfast and dinner. They'll be surprised how many good things they still have in their lives, and so will you!

I'm a big believer in family meetings. This is a perfect time to hold family meetings and empower your children.

Allow them to brainstorm and get involved in decisions about group activities for the free time when they aren’t engaged in online learning and homework. Examples include where to walk to, what to cook for dinner, family group projects, and more.

Think of these meetings and activities as team-building exercises. Family meetings aid in building self-esteem and teach children about ownership, responsibility, independence, compromise, and resolution conflict.

Please remember to carve out time for fun and creative outlets! Maybe your kids want to dress up, put on their own play, or wear funny socks. Or learn a new hobby.

For younger children, how about creating fun activity boxes with toys and puzzles that require very little adult supervision?

Set and respect boundaries.

Mom and dad, please remember to give each other physical space for your respective jobs, as well as space and time to practice self-care.

Avoid putting your phone on speaker and use your headsets for meetings. Mom may need time to call a good friend, take a walk by herself, or put her feet up. Dad may want some time to do some financial planning or watch a favorite show.

Please ask for help if you need it! If you've given up your cleaning service, you can assign cleaning tasks to your older children and reward them for helping you.

This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them to have skin in the game and be responsible for tidying their rooms and toys.

The same goes for cooking meals! Most children enjoy cooking and baking activities.

Lastly, take some time to think and plan for care for your children during the summer. Most overnight camps will not be open this coming summer.

RELATED: 5 Ways Parents Can Build Emotional Intelligence & Resilience In Kids Right Now

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Ellen Kamaras is a life and organizational coach whose specialties include: relationship coaching for singles, individuals seeking to reinvent themselves, empty-nesters looking for new purpose and fulfillment and individuals who want to get “unstuck” but are afraid to take risks.

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