How parents can keep their sanity right now
Posted by Christine Sergiacomi on 4/3/2020
So we’re about 3 weeks into “social isolation”, and I’m willing to bet that most parents have lost their cool with their kids a few times. Face it, it’s hard to be a parent on a regular day. And we all know that these days are nowhere near “regular”. I may have lost my cool today because Zoom wasn’t working right, my 6 year old was doing cartwheels on my bed, my 3 year old was honking his new bike horn, my dog was barking at the aforementioned bike horn, and my husband was trying to be on a conference call for work all at the exact same moment. It happens to all of us.
However, we can’t let this situation get the best of us. The most important thing we can do right now is to love our kids and build up those relationships. (Even when it’s really hard and there’s a bike horn honking in your ear.) Our relationship with our kids is what’s going to sustain them and keep them feeling safe during what seems to be a very unsafe time. So here are a few tips for all of us to help keep our cool:
- Put yourself in time out: Do you ever wish that someone would give you a grown-up timeout? Like, go sit in your quiet room for 15 minutes? Funny how the things that we hate as kids are things we actually need as adults. So, give yourself some breaks every now and then. If this means that your kids get some extra screen time, it’s completely worth it in the long run.
- Sleep: Get an appropriate amount of sleep on a fairly regular schedule. We are our best selves when we are rested. If you are sleeping too much, you may just be catching up on years of lost sleep. . .or you may be starting to feel depressed. Keep that in check and if you do suspect you are depressed reach out to friends and family for help.
- Eat right: It is so tempting to snack all day and eat whatever your kids are eating, but continuing (or starting) good eating habits is extra important right now. We need healthy bodies to fight off sickness, and good nutrition keeps us from having those blood sugar highs and lows that can impact our mood. This also includes drinking plenty of water!
- Get outside and move: Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise work wonders for the happiness chemicals in our brains. Walk, hike, ride bikes, do yoga, play sports (without teammates of course) whatever makes your body happy.
- Recognize your own feelings: When you start to get stressed notice how your body feels. Do your muscles tense up? Head begins to hurt? Heart beats faster? When you feel this way, this should be a signal to you that you need a time out. Instead of letting the situation escalate, step away for a minute (however you can) and take some deep breaths to calm that overactive amygdala.
- Stay connected to other adults: Use technology to your benefit and stay connected with your friends. Talk to those friends who live far away that you never have time to talk to. Talk to your friends down the street too, from a safe distance or through technology.
- Consider the bar lowered: Things are nowhere near normal right now. Lower your bar some for yourself, and for your kids. They are stressed out and scared too. They are missing their friends too. They are going to misbehave. We are going to lose our cool. Give yourself, and those little people that you care for some extra grace.
I would be remiss if I didn't add this very important note: If you ever feel like you are losing your cool to the point where you may hurt your children, yourself, or anyone else, you NEED to reach out for help. Having those thoughts does not make you a bad person, but it does mean that you need HELP right away.
Tell another adult about what's happening, and then in Forsyth County you have several options including Behavioral Health Urgent Care 24/7 at 336-955-8430 or Novant Behavioral Health from 8:00am-11:00pm at 336-718-3550 for connection to assistance. If you don't get help right away, keep trying. I am not a mental health provider, but I can certainly assist in connecting you with resources if you need them. You can contact me by email at email@example.com.