Staying calm and in top form as a parent does not come easy, anytime. Though we can trust a pandemic to make it even more challenging.
Parental duties aside, we may also be dealing with these
- Fear of losing our income
- Balancing work commitments from home
- Worry over our own health, and that of our loved ones (does not help if we or our family members have existing conditions)
- Disruptive changes to our sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty concentrating amid the endless chores and tasks
- Sense of helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism, mental and physical fatigue, or panic
- Reduced sense of security, causing behaviour such as (but not limited to) a need for constant cleaning (and sanitising), hoarding (items for the household, foodstuff, etc.), compulsive hand washing or showering, or obsessive tracking of social media feeds and news.
Surely, adults (and parents) deserve some attention and time-out too during such unusual times? Afterall, when we appear edgy and irritable, our kids will most likely detect it too.
Give yourself a break
It may be the most obvious thing we need, but often the most neglected. As little as five minutes of time-out is a great way to keep our sanity through the day. Training your kids to play independently is one way to create your pockets of rest – find out how here
When the kids are asleep (they can be conditioned to sleep slightly earlier) and the chores are done (these can be shared with family members), unwind with your favourite music, or engage in your hobbies Or simply enjoy a dedicated drama-hour every night.
Stay active, homebound
We may not be able to engage in mass sports now, but there are still workouts and activities we can do at home, with plenty of free online resources. Check out what ActiveSG has planned for parents and kids here – including GetActive TV, live on Facebook, on Mondays to Fridays!
Alternatively, cleaning may be a daily chore (though some people use this as stress relief!), but how about de-cluttering your bursting wardrobe, or sprucing up a section of your home? You may have been thinking about creating a corner for your collectibles or handicrafts, or wanting to inject a cosy café ambience to your dining area – how extensive this gets is entirely up to you, and a good distraction from the mundanity of chores.
Sleep… is even more critical than ever
It is a fact we know too clearly – we need to be fully and well rested, to help us deal with the day ahead. Sufficient and quality sleep helps us stay energised and clear-minded. Try to look for practical sleep solutions and make small changes to our habits.
With our lives compacted into home space this period, our cosy nest may feel more like a pressure cooker for now. Avoid falling into anxiety, by allowing more time to get the usual things done - start on things earlier, re-organise tasks for the most efficient flow, and accept that some things can be put off.
Be discerning about social media feeds and news
Are you subconsciously addicted to your smart devices and social media feeds? Are you receiving far too many negative messages, and potentially inducing a negative effect on your well-being?
In this digital age, we can be overwhelmed by excessive information, with factuality and relevance being ignored. Amid daily updates on the Covid-19 situation in Singapore, we can make a conscious effort to focus on positive and accurate information. Seek meaningful, happy and humorous content – there are plenty of hobby groups, funny pet videos, and inspiring stories to browse.
Know when to seek support
You do not have to feel guilty about wanting time-out, or when you feel worn out enough to need help. Ask your spouse, discuss how chores and time can be re-organised, and take turns for me-time.
Staying in touch with your buddies helps too, and it is not just Liking every post they make on social media. Have a weekly video chat, make it fun by setting a fuss-free theme or making everyone give a response to topics like “My top three essentials during an emergency” – it does not have to be a long video call, but the virtual socialising should compensate for this period of physical distancing. Alternatively, join a social media group, for parents to exchange the realities of parenting!
Lastly, check out WHO’s thoughtful aid for “Parenting in the time of COVID-19” here.