how health care workers can care for their own kids during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented circumstances for everybody. As health care workers, we have the added stress of possibly caring for those who may have had exposure to COVID -19 and managing our own stress surrounding these challenging times, all while still trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy for our own families and kids. For those health professionals that may be quarantined due to possible exposure, the task of parenting in these times likely seems more daunting.
Here are 6 tips to continue to maintain that bond with your children and doing the best we can to get through these tough times even as physical distancing needs to take place.
Manage your own stress levels: You’ve heard it before, but you’ve got to make sure you are taking care of yourself before taking care of others. Kids are great at reading us and can feed off of our own anxieties. After leaving work, before interacting with your kids, consider a transition activity to help you relax: listen to your favorite songs, listen to a (non-Coronavirus related) Podcast, do some deep breathing, or perhaps stop at your local park for a few minutes to refresh.
Be honest and developmentally appropriate : On some level, most kids are aware of what is going on in the world. It is normal for kids to have questions. Take the time to honestly answer their questions, but be careful not to provide too many details or give too much information at once, as this can get overwhelming. Make sure the language you use is understandable to your child and answers are geared at your child’s concerns (and not yours).
Create 1:1 time: Spending time one on one with your child is always important to strengthen the parent-child relationship, but particularly in times of stress and change, maintaining this connection is crucial. If possible, try to create this time daily, if only for a few minutes. Have your child pick an activity that can foster a connection (I.e. playing a game, doing an art project, taking a walk, preparing a meal/ snack). This can help you as a parent, focus on your child (as opposed to the scariness in the world) and gives your child what they need-some quality time with mom or dad.
Forster routines: We all thrive on routines, but particularly in times of change and stress, we all NEED routines in our life. Even if you can’t be there with your child, consider how you can still be part of your children’s routines. Perhaps you can sing your child’s favorite bedtime song together, read a book over the phone, or even be on the phone or Facetime during family dinner.
Get creative: Before the Coronavirus hit, maybe you didn’t have to think about how to bond with your child, maybe it just came naturally throughout the day. Particularly if you are working more, or even quarantined, this may be particularly difficult. Think outside the box. Maybe you can send your kids cards or letters to let them know they are in your thoughts or create a special signal just the two of you share at the beginning and end of the day to let them know you miss them and are thinking of them, even if you aren’t with them.
Use humor: Even in these tough times, we all need to laugh. Laughing releases endorphins that can boost our mood and even the act of smiling can increase happiness levels. Even if you can’t laugh with one another in person, we know that shared laughter can strengthen that relationship, so go ahead and challenge your kids to find something over the course of the day in which the two of you can share a smile.