Resilience is the ability to manage your reactions to stress and to function well even when bad things happen. When you are raising children, resilience is about
finding a way to be the parent you want to be, no matter what else is going on around you. Luckily, resilience isn’t something you either have or don’t have. And it’s not something you use up and lose. Rather, resilience is a skill we build throughout our lives—especially when we find ways to get through a challenge.
Even when times are tough, parents have strengths they can call upon that serve as ‘protective factors‘, helping them create the best outcomes for themselves and their family. Maintaining wellness is the optimal outcome no matter where you started. At times like these, the increased stress is probably unmatched-never before experienced. Support networks are needed and with the right supports, parents can get through the storms and make it over to the other side. There we find growth.
Try to find something you can do to take care of yourself. Pay attention to what calms you down, makes you feel hopeful and tap into your inner strengths. Each day, focus on you and your own functioning levels-your wellness. This way you can then take care of everyone else. Carve out some ‘me’ time. It’s fine if that means giving your children additional screen time. Make use of your older children’s abilities. Have them help out with chores; give them some responsibilities. Don’t hand these tasks to children only during the times of stress or difficulty. Make it a routine.Things like taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, separating laundry, vacuuming, etc…. Yes, no one does anything as perfectly as you, or exactly the way you like things done. The point is to let them help.
Look for moments of joy and encouragement, even if they are in small amounts. Take notice of what people in your community are doing to help one another. Look for signs that your children are growing and hold on to the feelings and realization that it may be time to rethink your parenting strategies. Keep it positive; don’t plan for problems. Just be prepared to meet challenges and not be blind-sided by your child asking to wear makeup, for example. Be prepared and parent accordingly. You can potentially limit your stress. Don’t plan for problems; plan to avoid problems. Stay a step ahead and you’ve got this!
Check in with your children to see how they are doing, not just physically, but emotionally and socially. You already are tuned in to their learning and academics. Find out what they may be missing or what made them laugh today. Allow your child to take the lead, whether you are solving a puzzle together or talking about their favorite video game. Always show your interest in them and their lives away from home. It is nice to be reminded of how wonderful your children are as human beings and remind them of their unique qualities, too. Take notice and reinforce those qualities. Acknowledge, recognize and reinforce.
Remember, when there are hard times,to keep telling yourself that this too shall pass. All you have to do is make it through those especially hard days, and believe that a better one is coming. Cope with what you can’t control and conquer what you can. Focus on what you and your family will be able to do when times such as during the self-isolation of a pandemic are over. Look forward to that which you enjoy doing-stay positive and hopeful.
Your social connections are important to nourish and maintain, even when you cannot be together. Connect with those you love at least once a day, even if just for a brief check-in. Do it by telephone, email, text or video chat. Help your children do the same. Help them keep in touch with their friends. Make video play dates for younger children and encourage older ones to text, call and video chat with their friends and loved ones, too.
Call your neighbors to see how they are faring, especially older people and those whose mobility is limited. These are times when compassion is most needed, wanted and appreciated, even if no one actually says so. It can be so very rewarding when helping others. Your ability to cope is increased as your mind is taken off of your own problems and concerns. Help others in any way you can, even when you think no one needs your help. Just the offer to assist others feels good.
Knowing what to expect as your children grow up makes your job as a parent so much easier. As stated earlier, there are incredible benefits of anticipating issues before they blindside you. Understand what your child needs to help guide them to do their best now, even in the midst of disruption. Daily routines are calming for both you and your child. Toddlers thrive with regular mealtimes, playtime, nap time, bath and bedtime. Sometimes you will get a little off schedule, but it is important to resume your schedules as soon as possible. Ask your children what they’re concerned about, what fears they may have. Let them talk about missing their friends and ask about what is going on in the world. Don’t forget-30 hugs a day is your goal with your children. This is particularly important for toddlers who may demand more of your time and attention. If you don’t give your child positive attention, he or she may seek attention in other, less positive ways.
Reading together is absolutely terrific, and it’s just as good with older children who may be able to take turns being the reader as with younger ones, you will have to be the reader. When you read with your child, pause every other page and talk about what’s going on in the story. Use pictures to help your child describe what is happening and anticipate what might happen ahead. Also, pictures are great illustrations of emotional indicators. Talk about what the characters may be feeling to build your child’s empathy, compassion and emotional literacy. Both older and younger children may enjoy singing and dancing with you.
Pay attention to your own feelings as a parent. What frustrates you most? What do your children do that brings you joy? What do they respond well to and determine which battles you need to fight and which ones aren’t that critical. Often times, you may discover that you need more strategies for handling certain situations with your children. Do you have someone to support you in that realm to help you work out some strategies? It is okay to not know what to do every time a situation arises; just reach out to someone for their supportive feedback and helpful suggestions.
It can be all to easy to become overwhelmed by the advice you may receive from different sources. Even good advice. Just remember these 5 things:
1.Taking care of yourself is good for you and for your children. There’s a saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
2. Be kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect, and there are no perfect parents. Some days will be better than others. Roll with it.
3.Give your children positive attention, and share moments of joy and laughter and help them explore their own feelings. Structure is good, but so is flexibility!
4. Stay connected and help your children stay connected to the important people in your lives.
5. Ask for help, and help others. You will be okay!