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Holding On to Your Parenting Sanity During COVID-19

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
04/03/20  8:00 AM PST
Parenting COVID-19

Trying to multi-task several large roles right now is very difficult for every parent. We are learning our children’s subjects so that we can teach them, making sure they complete their assignments, log into their Google classroom, download their assignments, turn in their assignments, and make sure they connect with their teachers via Zoom or Google Meet. We are doing all of this while also taking phone and video conferences. I don’t know about you, but my children are walking into my home office and asking questions during my video sessions. I guess it keeps things very real and honest, but it is definitely disruptive.

How can we be expected to maintain the same level of academic rigor when we are not teachers, and how are we supposed to teach and monitor our children, their school work, and their screen time? I’m overwhelmed already.

Create a Schedule for Your Family and Stick to It

I know you’ve read this over and over again, but it’s really helpful. That is, talk to your kids about a time to wake up, a time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a bedtime. Create another schedule for weekends too. There may not be academics to fill in the daytime during the weekends, but that may be the day you expect everyone to clean their rooms, wash laundry or to complete certain chores around the house. Try to stick to this schedule daily so your children know what to expect.

There are days I feel very disjointed – those are the days that I don’t have a time schedule in place for myself. So, I sat down with my husband and 3 kids and we set a schedule. We all feel a little bit more settled because of the schedule. I’m someone who enjoys flexibility in the schedule, but I never realized how much I need a schedule and how much I have to work to create and follow through on it at a time when the day feels like it has no beginning and no end.

Set a School Schedule with a Beginning and End Point

Our kids can’t work on their schoolwork for hours on end. There has to be a beginning and end point. Find out from your children when their teachers want them to log in to a video chat, etc. Overall, our teachers are ending their instruction by 3pm or the time that the school bell would ring. For some, they have extensive homework to complete. However, create an end point so that there is time for your child to decompress and connect with their friends via video chats.

As parents of little ones, please put your parenting guilt to the side about the amount of time you are able to invest in teaching your child. I know I have to keep my guilt in check as I’m trying to balance my work with my 7-year-old son’s reading, writing, spelling and math and the care for my patients.

Check in Emotionally

Every few days, check in with your kids. Ask them about their understanding of COVID-19. Find out where they are gaining information and listen for information that is inaccurate. Point out that not all news is accurate and it’s our job to translate what’s sensational news and what is true.

Ask your children about their worries. Listen but don’t feel the need to fix or make it better. Sympathize and normalize but don’t minimize or say, “Don’t worry about that.” That type of a statement can make your child’s worries feel trivial or actually trigger more anxiety or worry.

Please take care of yourself during this time. It will come to an end, but in the meantime, create some consistency during a time when we aren’t feeling settled.

Dr. Liz Matheis

 

Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified School Psychologist who specializes in working with children with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and behavioral struggles. She is also mom to three children, one with special needs. Her practice, Psychological and Education Consulting, is located in Livingston, New Jersey.

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