Parenting and Mental Health During COVID19

It’s easy to get caught up in the “magic” you see on Facebook that other families are creating. These families are eating dinner at the table together, baking 42 cakes, helping their child with homework with beautiful Pinterest-worthy set ups, and art projects to put in the windows for walkers in the neighborhood. Then, there are parents like me. I am a mental health professional, a second-round graduate student, a wife, and a mother to two children who are also trying to cope with a pandemic doing distance learning. This is on top of trying to be a person. With Mental Health Awareness Month being in May, it seems fitting to note that I have begun to see my therapist via telehealth each week as opposed to biweekly. When I talk to other parents off of social media, I learn that I’m not the only one. We have to learn how to adjust ourselves in order to help our kids adjust. We have to put our oxygen mask on in order to help those around us.

Transitioning to a completely digital world has been “interesting” to say the least.  Not leaving the house with two kids while two parents try to work has not been the most effective. They have Zoom calls during the day and somehow we are supposed to make sure they are on and engaged while also being on our calls. Let’s be clear, I appreciate all that the teachers are doing. Honestly, several have gone above and beyond. I can also appreciate having to move everything online, especially for younger children, and how much of a struggle that is. As a practice, we certainly had to troubleshoot, get further education, consult and use our clinical judgement of what to try with clients. In several instances, telehealth has provided a new tool for expanded growth in ourselves and in our clients.

Some of the concerns for our children at this time have been about academics and socialization. We cannot be expected to suddenly be able to teach our children, sanitize everything, have fewer human interactions and still continue functioning ourselves with how our lives were before that. Some parents have now lost jobs or income and there is the added stress of this. Concerns about “when the world reopens” include whether you will have childcare or not. In addition to childcare, if when you are able to go back to work and/or them to a program, does that mean that you will have to constantly be worried that someone in the family will be exposed?

It’s normal and okay to grieve life from almost two months ago. It’s okay to be frustrated, sad, angry and confused. Parents are models for their children on how to cope with situations. It’s okay to not have everything together. A missed P.E. Zoom call for a second grader is not the end of the world. You are not a “bad” parent if your kid ate chocolate chips for breakfast. You are a parent! During this pandemic, give yourself the grace and space. It might be a great time to learn a new coping skill with your kids too. There are great meditations, tutorials for art or creation and so many things to laugh about! Feel free to reach out to your therapist or start a new relationship with us to learn about ways your can support you and your family!