10 Things for Parents to Remember as They Navigate the New Normal
Parents all across the world are coping with huge changes to their family’s normal routines.
Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have rocked family life across our nation and across the world. Schools are temporarily closed and many parents working non-essential jobs are home along with their children. Others are still working while trying to juggle the kids with no childcare. Most families are also experiencing new challenges with finances and job security.
Though social media and news outlets tend to paint a bleak picture, it’s more important than ever to look toward the future by focusing on gratitude, compassion, and positivity as much as we can. While these shifts in lifestyle may be our current normal, they aren’t permanent.
We’ve gathered up 10 important things to keep in mind or put into practice while you help navigate your family through these new challenges.
1. A daily schedule is as important for kids as it is for parents, but make sure it’s flexible.
Humans are creatures of habit. When life throws a curveball and we’re forced to cope with new changes to our normal routine, having a schedule is even more crucial.
Keeping your kids on a schedule that closely resembles their school routine is the simplest option and usually allows you to also get your work or other responsibilities completed during their ‘class’ time. If you find that this schedule isn’t quite working, don’t hesitate to change it up. Flexibility is key to making life at home during this time work for everyone.
2. Let go of perfection and practice adjusting your expectations to what’s most realistic.
As a parent, it’s completely natural to want things to go according to plan, but it can be easy to get frustrated when your expectations aren’t met. There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations of a situation, but only as long as those expectations are also realistic.
Keep in mind that what you and your family are experiencing right now is something totally new. You don’t have prior experience to guide you, and that means Plan A or even Plan B may not work out. Rather than seeing this in a negative light, consider instead that it gives you a wonderful chance to practice patience and adaptability in tough situations.
3. Remember to ask for help when you need it.
Asking for help is something parents often don’t do enough because they’re used to being the one that helps. However, many parents are feeling more stressed than ever with the added responsibilities everyone being at home brings. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, rather than keeping it inside simply ask for help. Even younger kids can help with some basic household chores and other small tasks that can lighten your load.
4. Encourage your family to share their feelings through conversation or journaling.
Checking in with each member of your family privately is a great way to spark a conversation. Older kids and teens may feel frustrated, worried, or scared about what is going on in the world. Even very young children who don’t know what’s happening can feel just as upset or sad, especially when they don’t understand why they can’t see their friends or visit their grandparents.
Encouraging your family to journal is another great idea. Give each child a new journal or notebook and let them know they can write down whatever they happen to be feeling. They can either share it with you or keep it themselves. Expressive writing is a wonderful way to relieve stress.
5. Limiting your family’s consumption of social media can help alleviate anxiety and worry for everyone.
Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It’s one of our most accessible tools for staying in touch with our loved ones as well as world events. Unfortunately, social media can also leave us feeling drained, stressed, depressed, and even angry. Practicing some social media distancing is a great way to get off screens, spend more time with family, and help keep negativity at bay.
6. Comfort foods temporarily relieve stress, but nutritious meals are what will truly boost your physical and mental health.
Snacking is at an all-time high right now, which isn’t surprising considering how common emotional eating is. Indulging in your sweet tooth or that salty craving for chips isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can affect your health and lower your immune system if it’s happening often.
A healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health as well as your immune system. Healthy, home cooked meals also give you and your family a chance to cook together, bond, and experiment with new recipes.
7. Set aside time to take care of yourself and encourage your family to practice self-care as well.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your family is to practice self-care on a daily basis. It’s difficult and sometimes downright impossible to avoid triggers that make us feel stressed, but what we can do is regularly relieve our stress through self-care.
Think of what relaxes you and experiment with new relaxation techniques, like meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Kids of all ages can also greatly benefit from self-care. Kids can also practice breathing and mindfulness techniques. A simple bubble bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil is also a great way to relax.
8. Hold weekly family meetings to give everyone a chance to talk and suggest changes if something isn’t working.
If weekly family meetings aren’t common in your household, right now is a wonderful time to give them a go. Family meetings give each family member a chance to discuss what’s going on and offer suggestions for things they maybe don’t like or are struggling with.
As a parent, family meetings let you understand how your children are coping with this new situation and learn how you can help them even more. As for your children, family meetings give them confidence knowing they’re being heard and that their ideas are important.
9. Keeping your family’s immune system strong fights germs and gives you peace of mind.
Right now, keeping your family’s immune system strong is critical. Thankfully it’s also pretty easy to accomplish.
In addition to a healthy diet, some helpful ways to boost everyone’s immune systems include:
10. Take advantage of free online educational resources for your children.
Reducing screen time is beneficial for children of all ages, but the internet does provide a wonderful range of free educational resources for kids. Allowing for extra screen time for educational purposes not only keeps kids learning but also busy while you attend to your own work or household tasks.
Here are a few great educational sites for kids:
A quick Google search can yield thousands of excellent resources and websites.
Dr. Sexton and his team are still available to treat your family’s urgent dental issues.
Another new change for many parents is the postponement of their kids’ routine medical appointments, including dental check-ups and cleanings.
Dr. Sexton and his team are taking a break from normal office hours as recommended by health authorities. We would like to remind patients that we are still available to help with serious dental issues, including pain, trauma, swelling, and other emergencies.
If you or a family member is experiencing an emergency, please call our office number and follow the prompts on our answering machine message.