Parenting Is Hard, But It’s Harder During A Pandemic
Everyone is feeling the pain in many different ways from the pandemic and social unrest. I thought that I was doing everything I could to keep my family safe – wearing masks, washing hands, taking walks to get out of the house, making sure virtual school needs are met, but there is one thing I neglected….my children’s mental health.
I would of course ask them how they were doing and how they felt about everything that was going on periodically, but as with most teenagers, they said they were okay. Recently, I found they were not okay. The physical social separation from their friends and activities were starting to wear on them in ways I never imagined.
We are still muddling through steps and options to:
ASK MORE QUESTIONS
When your children hit their teen years and even a little before, they often start to close up and keep to themselves. It’s important that we ask questions about their thoughts and experiences frequently. My daughter just got her permit to drive and while we were driving, I asked her questions about her virtual schooling and how she felt overall. She let me know that she felt overwhelmed. I didn’t realize that although she’s learning virtually, she is still heading up virtual school clubs, conditioning for sports, learning to drive, and taking on a larger homework load than before. Most of her life is stuck in front of a computer.
Asking that one prompting question, led to a deeper look into what she is experiencing and as a parent it’s my job to help her cope with this new found world. I let her know that I don’t have all the answers, but now that I’m aware, we’ll work on this together to lighten the load.
During the summer, we were able to snag some table heaters on sale. My son is a huge anime fan and has opted to have a friend over to sit near the heaters and watch some anime on the projector on our deck.
If your still not comfortable with a socially distanced meet up, try to setup virtual game nights or parties for your teens. My family setup one large game night open to friends and family with small cash prizes sent via cash app. The kids participated and one of them even moderated to make sure no one cheated.
PLAN MORE FAMILY ACTIVITIES
In the beginning of the pandemic, we really had to search for ways to get outside of the house and do things together as a family. Sometimes, we would drive to the mountains and just go walk to the overlook and hang out. Another day we all piled into the car and went to the drive-in movie. The plans went well for a while until virtual school started back and we all ended up secluded behind computer screens. Now, we have to actively plan family time on the weekends instead of sitting inside.
GO OVER YOUR CHILD’S SCHEDULE
Like I said before, I didn’t realize how much my teen daughter had on her plate. If you find that your children have a lot going on, look over their schedules to find areas to adjust. For example, my daughter is in a school group that adds more projects to her work load. After looking at her schedule together, we decided to scale back her participation in the group. It’s easy to think since their not physically in school, that their load is light, but that’s not always the case.
We have three kids that are all in school and other activities, while my husband and I work. Between cooking, cleaning, and working, it can be difficult to nail down time to touch base, but it is important to fit time in. We sit at the dinner table together and chat every evening. However, I have noticed it’s also beneficial to have one-on-one conversations daily to gauge how they are doing mentally, physically and emotionally without the interruptions of each of us chiming in at dinner.
EDUCATE FOR UNDERSTANDING
Be transparent and share information. This part is delicate, because you want to share information so that they are aware and don’t solely hear information from friends or social media while maintaining calm so they don’t feel panicked.
I let them know that I don’t have all the answers and that I am uncertain about the pandemic and the timeline. However, one thing I am certain of is that I’m there to help them navigate through this to the best of my abilities.