By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a congressional resolution into law to create Parent’s Day, a national holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Sunday of every July. The purpose of the celebration is to “recognize, uplift, and support the role of parents in the rearing of children.” In 2020, the celebration is more significant than ever. This year, parents have faced unprecedented challenges.
The COVID environment has created a new normal in which many parents are working from home, most children are out of school, and many families are cut off from the support of grandparents and others.It’s hardly surprising that many parents are struggling in this new, unfamiliar landscape. In this article, we present five tips that will help you to best parent your children in this new normal.
This year has been tough on kids. As well as missing out on the structure of schooling, they’ve been deprived of daily social interactions with their peers, which is essential to well-rounded development. As a parent, you can’t do everything to make up for these deficits, but you can do a lot. In meeting your child’s needs, you should take a holistic approach to parenting every day. The Wellness Wheel is a great tool to help you do it.
The Wellness Wheel helps us to get the different dimensions of our lives in perspective. The wheel is divided into seven segments that represent these dimensions as follows:
When it comes to parenting in the new normal, you need to account for each of these dimensions with your child. Rather than putting all of your efforts into your child’s intellectual wellness, be sure to address their social needs by giving them time to spend on social media with their friends. This time, too, must be blanched with the physical. So, get your kids away from technology and outside playing sports or exercising. Also spend time in spiritual pursuits, however that looks in your family.
Parents should the time to cater to their child’s emotional needs every day by providing an open, non-judgmental, listening ear. Talk to your child about the importance of looking after their micro-environment during the lockdown situation. This includes keeping their room tidy and pitching in with the smooth running of the household. As far as financial wellness goes, the first step is to talk with your child. He or she is likely to have some anxiety about the family finances in light of the pandemic situation. Provide them with age appropriate information about how the family is getting on. If possible, maintain their allowance and assure them that you’re all going to be fine.
We all do better when we have a routine to stick to. This is especially important, though, when it comes to our kids. Sure, sleeping in for the first few days when they realized they didn’t have to go to school was great. But, if you allow them to while away their days without any structure, they will suffer emotionally.
Set up a routine in conjunction with each child. Make sure that they have plenty of involvement in the process. Include a time to get up, eat meals, play sports, exercise, and do their school work. At the same time, both you and your spouse should also create a daily/weekly routine. Put each family member’s schedule on a sheet of paper and display it on the fridge. Encourage the kids to keep Mom and Dad on track, while you agree to do the same thing for them.
One of the hardest things kids are struggling with right now is the loss of their social connections. Online contact can only go so far—we all need real life interactions. So, based on the restrictions where you live, go out of your way to organize outings with and for your child. If they are able to go to the movies with a friend, be proactive in helping them make it happen.
Of course, if you’re in a state with lockdown restrictions, you will have to make more use of online platforms like Zoom and Facetime. You may have to relax some restrictions on social media that you had in place prior to the pandemic. However, you still need to regulate and control all of your child’s online time. Work to regulate it by scheduling Facetime sessions with grandparents and virtual playdates with their friends.
On the bright side, you have more time to spend with your children during this pandemic. At some stage, that situation will change. Don’t allow yourself to look back on that opportunity with regret. Sit down with your family and have everyone write ideas for activities that you can do together. Put them all in a jar. Every day, take turns and have one family member pull out an idea and then implement it. Ideas could include playing board games, having a family movie night, playing a sport, or playing charades.
The new environment that we find ourselves in is real. We cannot, therefore, expect our kids to be the same as they were before. Don’t expect them to be putting the same number of hours into their school work that they previously were. They now have new challenges, both physical and emotional. Extend their education by providing practical lessons out in nature. Teach them about what you are passionate about. Don’t get too caught up in what they are achieving with their online lessons. Remember that parents and children are in the same boat these days.
By conveying a relaxed, realistic atmosphere, you will go a long way in helping your child to coast through the pandemic environment with a minimal amount of anxiety. In this way, you can contribute to their stress management.
View this new normal environment as an opportunity to spend precious time with your family. Look to address every dimension of your child’s needs, displaying empathy, patience, and love, and you’ll look back with fondness on this unique period in our history.