Self Care for Parents in New Covid Norm
Rachel Haley, M. Ed.   •   April 15, 2022

Self care was a big topic for everyone at the beginning of Covid when the world seemed to turn upside down and everyone was unsure of any normalcy in life. With families stuck inside of houses in early 2020, everyone had to find out how to cope with a new way of doing life with jobs, family, marriage, and school. Today, we are no longer shut down, but that also does not mean we are back to how things were pre-Covid. We are now learning to live with Covid.

No one knows if the world will get back to a pre-Covid life anytime soon, if ever. In the midst of trying to find a semblance of normality back in everyday life, most people have jump back into their everyday routines and responsibilities. It is common for people to strive for normal so much that they can easily overlook the signs of needing personal self-care.

Just as the flight metaphor goes, a parent should put on their own mask before helping with their children’s masks. Parents found a way to function before Covid and during Covid. It is now time for parents to find a way to take care of themselves in this new Covid norm.

Here are a few ideas and suggestions as you analyze where you are mentally as a parent and how you can help take care of yourself to better take care of others:

Let go of guilt- At one point or another during the last two years, you probably felt like a failure as a parent, spouse, or employee. Life was difficult beyond words, but we survived. Survival through a world-wide pandemic, automatically gives you a “get out of jail free” card in any area you feel that you were not enough. By letting go of the guilt, you can move forward in taking care of yourself to better take care of your family.

Pay attention to your emotions- Nowadays, too many people learn to cope in life simply by staying busy. It is a lot easier to stay engaged with one task after another than to settle down into the quiet where all you must deal with is yourself and your real emotions. Don’t take the fact that you are functioning in a busy life as the only measure that you are ok. Stop and pay attention to your own emotions of how you are truly doing. Without acknowledging the positives and negatives of where you are realistically, you can never begin self-care to move forward.

Schedule “YOU” time- Every parent would give everything they have for their child, but what happens when the parents are on empty? You need to make sure that there is time dedicated to filling yourself back up with activities and time you love. Do you love running? Do you love date nights with your spouse? Do you love going to the movies by yourself to sit in the quiet and get away? Whatever the “YOU” time activity, make sure it is a priority in your life.

Physical activity as an outlet- Research shows that physical activity has a profound positive impact on mental health. Physical activity helps you relieve stress, improve sleep, provides more energy, and helps boost your mood altogether. Exercise is a way of helping your body build resilience to the physical challenges it faces. Exercise also helps your mind build mental resistance to the stress and everyday factors affecting your mental health. Find a physical activity that works for you. Whether you love running, going to the gym, following along with yoga videos at home, or simply walking laps around the playground while your child plays, find a physical activity that can help provide the mental and physical boosts parents desperately need in this new age.

Create a routine that works for you- Creating a structure and routine inside of the house can help create stability and lessen anxiety as the routine becomes second nature. What is important for parents in today’s Covid norm society to understand is that you do not have to bind yourself into the same routines or expectations that were in place pre-Covid. You might have been super mom or dad before Covid easily able to handle it all. Every day had routines and the house ran like clockwork, but those same routines may not function and work for you today. If you used to do laundry three times a week but right now can only manage 1 time a week, do it. If you used to cook homemade meals every meal but Friday after work needs to be grabbing food, do it. Find a new routine that not only gives the household stability but also doesn’t demand expectations that cannot be fulfilled right now. A realistic routine in this new “Covid norm” life will help you feel successful as a parent based on the expectations and routines that only you decide.

Ask for help-It is ok not to be ok. Most people will go through a stage at one point in life where they are truly struggling. The important thing is to know when to ask for help and learn to accept that help. More than ever, adults worldwide are struggling. There is in uprise in people reaching out and seeking help from their doctors and counselors. If you are at a point where you are struggling to make it through the day, you need to reach out to your doctor, family member, or friend for help. By helping yourself, you are ultimately helping your child.

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