Parenting during a pandemic
Written by Lauria Locsmondy, Clinically reviewed by Jen Matz, MPH Dec 19, 2022 • 8 min
Managing parenting and work during social distancing and self-quarantine can create stress on both parents and children.
While many enjoy the privilege of more family time, emotions can be amplified by disrupted education, teleworking, lower income, and family illness. Parents need help from their employers and support systems—and children need reassurance from their parents, which can be a challenge right now. Still, we can make proactive steps to create a positive environment for ourselves and our families with some helpful and effective steps.
Helpful tips for parents and caregivers
1. Keep structure
Children learn how to act by watching their parents and caretakers. Keeping to a schedule—while allowing room for hiccups—will provide a positive environment for both you and them.
Make a schedule for both structured activities and free time to allow children a sense of comfort and security.
Have children help make the schedule. Participation will create a feeling of ownership.
Keep to bedtimes and bathing times. Get dressed in the morning, and eat regular meals. Keep school subject sessions to 30 minutes each to maintain kids' attention.
Be sure to include a time for exercise each day. This is important to help reduce stress and provide an outlet for energy. (If going outside isn't an option, dancing, jumping and hula-hoops can be fun outlets.)
Make handwashing a normal routine with fun with 20-second sing-a-long songs, or by creating a rewarding sticker chart for younger children.
Create a chores schedule with children and other adults in your household. This can lighten your load and provide a sense of accomplishment for kids.
Write out the schedule (get creative!) and place it where everyone can see it.
Spending time one-on-one with your children makes them feel loved, secure, and important. While finding time for yourself likewise can be a challenge, the following tips can foster better feelings for everyone involved:
1. Try to set aside time with each child daily.
20 minutes will do the trick, and a repeated daily time (like noon every day) will allow them to look forward to it.
2. Give your attention.
Listen to them, look at them, let them know you care. Turn off screens—theirs and yours—so that this time is impactful.
3. Ask your child what they want to do.
Whether it be playing or talking, this builds their confidence by following their suggestion.
Remember the old adage: You get more bees with honey? Positive instruction and praise goes a long way—especially with children.
1. Use affirming language.
Instead of, "Don’t make a mess!" Say, "Please clean up your toys."
2. Tone is everything.
Speak calmly, say your child's name, and don't yell—which only stresses you both more.
3. Praise good behavior.
This reinforces that you notice and care. (Then watch them do it again!)