For many parents, the daily stress of raising a family during the pandemic is leading to high levels of burnout.
You might have a client, friend or family member who’s feeling overwhelmed – or maybe you’re feeling the strain yourself.
So in the video below, Lynn Lyons, LICSW, shares some ideas for parents to help cut through the stress and create moments of joy in their families.
Have a listen.
If your kids are eating Ring Dings three meals a day, who cares? If the sleep schedule is wackadoodle, don’t worry about it. If your kids are in your bed with you, well, that’s just the way it’s going to be. That was probably helpful at the beginning when things felt so chaotic and there was a lot of crisis, but what I’ve been talking to families about now is that even in the midst of this, how can we return to some routine and ritual so that things can feel normal? One of the questions I am posing to parents is to pay attention to any bad habits that you think slipped in. If we’re talking about your energy, if we’re talking about getting through the day, all the things that you have to manage, all of that permission that we gave ourselves as parents at the beginning of this is not a good long-term strategy.
So, when parents are feeling really worn out, what have you let go of that makes your family run smoothly? Have you let go of bedtimes? Do you make sure that your kids are getting into bed at a certain time so you can have that evening time to yourself? If you’re all in the house together and your kids are staying up until 11 o’clock while they’re six years old, you’re missing out on some valuable time. Putting that structure and routine back in place has been really important for families.
The other thing that I have been talking about so consistently is how do we create joy in the midst of all of this despair? Children need to see parents having moments of joy. Parents need to be silly and playful; it’s going to help them too. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that’s going on around us. It feels like there’s more bad news every day, isn’t there? Human beings are pretty good, even in the midst of suffering, at pulling up moments of joy, and our kids really depend on that from us.
My mom sent me a video. My dad, who’s 79, was blasting his ’50s music, and he was vacuuming. So, he’s in their house, he’s blasting his ’50s music, and he’s dancing while he’s vacuuming. I am in my 50s, and my dad is 79. Even just watching my dad be joyful made me have this sense that things were going to be okay. When I watched that clip, I thought, “I need to make sure that I am telling parents this.” Moments of joy on your face, moments of silliness, kids seeing you laugh, kids seeing you sing, kids seeing you dance in the kitchen — any little moment that we can offer our children during this, we need it to sustain us. This has been a long haul. I know that as a parent, when parents are watching their children have delight in their faces, it just lifts everybody up. It’s not a solution for the economic stuff. It’s not a solution for a lost job; it’s not a solution for oppression and racism, nor is it a solution for, “When is the vaccine coming out and should we even get it?” It’s not a solution for any of that, but these are the moments that kids are going to remember. These are the moments that kids need so that they don’t get pulled down into the despair with us.
According to Lynn, little moments like the one she described can have a big impact on both parents and children alike.
So now we’d like to hear from you. If you have clients who are struggling as parents during this difficult time, how are you working with them? Or if you are a parent yourself, what are you doing to reduce stress and bring joy into family life? Let us know in the comments below.
If you found this helpful, here are a few more resources you might be interested in:
How Feeling “Never Good Enough” Can Get Passed Down Through Generations, with Lynn Lyons, LICSW
How PTSD Can Change Children’s Brains
Making Telehealth Work for Clients in a Busy Home – Working with Parents During Quarantine
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