Dear Parent, Are You Ok? (Pandemic’s Impact on Parents)
The Covid-19 Pandemic came to shake the lives of many families, disrupting routines and inciting anxiety and discomfort. This has been quite a steep and speedy roller coaster, to which we were not asked if we wanted to hop on. Almost from one day to the other, parents had to adjust their lives to remote work, homeschooling, isolation, and, unavoidable, fear for the future. A lot is said about how to support children in these tricky times but, what about the parents? Did parents have enough support? How did they feel? Did their mental health worsen? I think we all know the answers to these questions so, today, I want to ask you, parent and caregiver, are you okay?
How Did The Pandemic Change The Role of Parents
When COVID-19 emerged, many efforts were made to stop the spread and avoid tragic deaths and collapse in hospitals. One of those was the stay-at-home orders for almost every person unless they were essential workers such as nurses or doctors. In the course of approximately one month, you were asked to adjust your whole life and make of your home, your world. You were also required to take upon roles that were strange for you: you became the teacher, the educator, the 24/7 parent, the friend, the social circle, and the community for your children. That was a lot to take in, a lot to process.
To add up, you were probably concerned about your work, having financial issues, going through some anxiety and unease, feeling irritable and tired. But you couldn’t stop, because the world wouldn’t stop at your mercy, right? I hear you, dear Parent, these were (and, for many, still are) tough times. You did the best that you could, you were as flexible and as adaptable as you possibly could. Even if you think you could have done things differently, or better, you should be proud of yourself. Being allocated as the captain of such a ship (your home, your children, your family) without enough notice and little support can definitely make anyone go bananas. You stepped in, you tried and I am sure, you and your family learned tons!
What Was The Impact of Covid-19 In Parents’ Mental Health?
During the pandemic, many organizations have been researching the mental health effect of the pandemic on parents and primary caregivers. Find some pieces of research in the references below! The bottom line is that many parents expressed a wide variety of factors that worsened their mental health. Many parents, therefore, felt isolated and more vulnerable during lockdown periods due to Covid-19.
Among the factors that parents reported as more significant in amplifying anxiety and depression were economic hardship, financial issues, isolation from the community and extended family, having to adjust to remote work, lack of social contact and physical activity, worrying about their children’s education and social development, uncertainty about the future, taking on roles of pseudo-teachers or educators, among others.
You might be feeling identified with some of these factors because they were common in families during the pandemic. Although you might think you are fairly okay, it is never a bad idea to consult with a specialist to be able to process all that hardship and ensure traumas don’t develop in you and your children. Having to deal with the sudden changes required by the governments to stop the spread of the Pandemic might have made you more irritable, sad, isolated, stressed, and negative. If this sounds like you, take into account that all these normal and valid feelings are important to address because they can harm you and your family.
Let’s remember that children see their parents or primary caregivers as role models. This doesn’t mean that you can not be stressed or feel irritable by the pandemic. You have all the right to feel whatever you are feeling. However, like your kids’ role models, you don’t want to pass all that stress onto them, right? They will, eventually, feel the same as you.
Take note of these easy and simple strategies to deal with all the valid but negative emotions parents might have felt due to Covid-19, so you and your children can process and move on:
Validate your emotions: Repeat to yourself “my anger is valid, my stress is valid, my anxiety is valid”. The first step to deal with these emotions and be able to process them is acknowledging their presence and welcoming them into our lives.
Talk about your emotions with your family and children: given that you might not have a social circle available to you to vent, feel free to talk about how you feel with your family and children. This will help you process and support them understand how to make you feel better.
Practice self-compassion and self-care: I know it is hard to find moments for yourself amidst all the chaos. I know you have lots of things to do. I know you need to cook, do the laundry, clean the house and order your groceries. You will get there! But, it is important that you spare a little time for yourself. How does a shower sound? Five minutes of yoga? A cup of tea listening to a podcast? Coloring a mandala? It doesn’t need to be elaborated but will bring you tranquility and peace. It will help you tackle every day with a better attitude!
Dear Parent, I really admire you. You were brave and loving, you were resilient and patient. You are also only a human and felt a wide range of emotions. But you still stood up in the morning and tried to go through the day while supporting your loved ones. Feel free to write your comments and let me know how you felt during the pandemic!
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Development and Experience Wizard! Co-founder of the Opal academy, helping develop children soft and life skills!