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Parenting During the Coronavirus Crisis: Juggling Home Education, Meals and Your Mental Well-Being

Coronavirus and Parents: Working Double Duty

As the Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues the conversation about how to best slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus in the U.S., many parents are now finding themselves having to juggle two full-time jobs – being a remote employee and being in charge of their childrens’ education, care, and development. 

The CDC continues to update its guidelines and encourages social distancing, prompting schools across the country to extend spring break and encourage distance learning. Many states are also eliminating spring graduation and testing requirements. In addition, many organizations have responded by having employees work remotely as much as possible. 

While the measures recommended by government health organizations have the best interest of the public in mind, many parents are now facing stressful decisions related to child care, addressing the need to provide meals previously provided by schools, and are working to transition their child’s education into a home-school setting. Fortunately, there are resources and help available in local communities and online to help parents continue to care for their children, work and themselves during this time.

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Practicing Family Mindfulness

While many kids are expressing initial excitement about having a longer spring break, feelings of anxiety and worry can also come up for them as they adjust to a completely different routine and not seeing their friends, teachers, coaches, and other important people in their lives. And, as the spread of the Coronavirus has more and more of an impact on the country, children will look to the adults in their lives to get a sense of how they should react.

In addition to taking a “facts, not fear” approach to educating yourself and your family about COVID-19, engaging in mindfulness exercises alongside your children can be a great way to introduce them to the practice, and to help them recognize and communicate about their feelings.

Examples of short, easy mindfulness activities for children of all ages are:

  • Blowing bubbles while emphasizing big, deep breaths through the nose and a slow release of breath to fill the bubble and make it as big as possible.
  • Having a “mindful snack” together, where you discuss the smells, textures, colors, and  tastes that you experience.
  • Bringing awareness to your bodies by feeling each other’s breath or heartbeats.
  • Practicing kind thoughts and compassion by listing five people that you want to send good wishes to.
  • Making it easy to talk about feelings by turning them into weather reports, such as “I was feeling dark and gloomy but I’m starting to feel sunny.”

Free Learning Resources Online

Homeschooling is a brand new concept for many Americans, and many parents are worried about the disruption to their child’s education. In addition to the homework packets or distance learning instructions that may have been sent home with your children, examples of homeschool schedules and homeschooling styles are available online to help your family adjust to their new normal until schools re-open. 

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Scholastic has also set up a free online learning website with books and activities for kids in all age groups. To add a little bit of culture and fun to your homeschool days, there are also multiple museums, art galleries, and classical concerts, plays, operas and more that you and your family can enjoy virtually

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Taking Care of Yourself and Staying Present

But while you’re making the best decisions for your children and family, don’t forget to also take care of yourself. With so many challenging decisions , practicing self-care is essential to maintain your health and well-being Practicing short mindfulness exercises can help you manage the stress that comes from the extra demands you may be facing.

Strengthening your mind and body connection and bringing your awareness inward can help you:

  • Experience and enjoy the present moment rather than worry about the past or future
  • Notice any emotions that come up so you can allow yourself to sit with them and move past them
  • Think and make decisions with more clarity and calm

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Whether you’re working from home or in an office setting, mindfulness exercises can be practiced whenever you can find a small chunk of time for yourself.

Family Coronavirus Planning

The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) remain the best resources for accurate, up-to-date information about the novel Coronavirus, and having plans in place for the whole family can help everyone adjust to the situation as it develops. While increased isolation, school closures, and financial stresses are hitting parents hard in every state, utilizing the resources that are available in your area, encouraging self-care and mindfulness for yourself and everyone at home, and approaching the developing Coronavirus situation with calm and clarity can help parents navigate this challenging time.

It’s Okay to Ask For Help

If you’re wondering how you’re going to keep your kids fed, cared for, and educated while schools are closed, you are not alone. The nationwide closures have added an additional burden on millions of parents across the country, but there are places you can turn to if you need help:

  • Free or reduced meals for kids 18 and younger are being offered at many restaurants, churches, and other businesses to help ease the financial stress of not having school meals for the next few weeks. 
  • Food and household supplies are being donated by churches and charity organizations in many cities for families who either haven’t been able to get to the store or live in areas that are experiencing shortages.
  • Child care options are still being handled on a case-by-case basis in most areas, but volunteers, parents, and organizations such as United Way have come together to help parents who don’t have the option of working from home. 

Maintaining calm and rational thoughts and decision-making is not only important so you can be fully present for your family, but turning it into a family activity can also make it enjoyable and help you enjoy these weeks of being home together.

Staying mindful is important during these uncertain times, and you can continue developing your mindfulness skills like compassion and resilience with our Mindful Daily sessions!

Written by Becky Greiner.