Staying strong while you’re home with the kids
March 24, 2020
Physical distancing is something we’re all doing to slow the spread of COVID-19. This is important for everyone - especially for older adults and folks with compromised immune systems. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough for parents home with antsy kids.
“During these types of stressful times, when we don’t always have answers to every question, it’s important that parents take care of themselves and build resilience” Kendra Dunn, Family Strengthening Director for the CDHS Office of Early Childhood, says.
- Taking care of yourself and asking for help when you need it. Social support is more vital now then ever.
- Feeling good about yourself and remaining hopeful about the future.
- Planning for the future when you will face other stressful parenting challenges. What are you doing now that will also help you down the road?
- Not allowing stress to get in the way of providing loving care for your child.
- Taking time to really enjoy your child and what you like about parenting.
What can a parent or caregiver do to build their own resilience, particularly while the world is responding to COVID-19?
First, Kendra says, reflect on all the things you love to do with your child and think of ways you are going to make more time to do them. Write this down. Next, use this time to do the things you love to do together at home or outside. “Colorado has a lot of parks and open space, and the weather is nice,” Kendra says. “Get outside and be active in an area that isn’t crowded.”
Parents should also think about what has challenged them as a parent in the past and make a plan for how they will respond in the future. “If you lost your patience while making lunch yesterday, come up with a plan to avoid those triggers or respond differently today,” Kendra says.
Parents should also ask themselves, What helps you feel less stressed? Make an actual list of specific stress-buster activities to use on those difficult days and post it on the refrigerator. And, last but not least, take care of yourself. Make time each day to do one thing that you are good at.
Here are a few ideas to stay active, stay connected, build your own resilience, and keep the kids busy.
- If you haven’t done so already, join a parenting group on Facebook or NextDoor. Ask your online connections for ideas for kids and advice on how they’re handling this.
- While you’re maintaining social connections online, the CDC recommends that we all take breaks from news, including social media, because hearing constant news about the pandemic can also create stress.
- Family Resource Centers are great resources for every parent. In these times, they can refer you to assistance programs, provide emotional support and share ideas to avoid cabin fever.
- Look for free exercise classes online to help you relieve stress and stay active during the day or when the kids go to bed.
- Call or video chat with a friend or family member. Chances are, they want to see you, too.
- The Colorado Department of Education has a list of free meal sites online.
- Arm yourself with information. Visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website to accurate information about COVID-19 in Colorado. Review the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s parent and caregiver guide to COVID-19. The World Health Organization has additional resources on helping children cope.
“Sometimes, as parents, we feel overwhelmed and we forget how strong we can be,” Kendra says. “Our ability to bounce back and adapt to life’s unexpected challenges - whether it’s our kids’ homework we can’t figure out or a global pandemic - helps our entire family get through the day.”
Additional Tips and Resources From the Colorado Department of Human Services
Reporting possible child abuse or neglect
While schools are out, we are especially concerned about child abuse and neglect that may go unreported.
A significant percentage (nearly 40% last month) of calls to the statewide child abuse and neglect hotline system - 844-CO-4-Kids - come from teachers, school staff or child care providers.
While schools are closed, it is even more important that everyone report their concerns about the safety and well-being of a child or teen. Call the hotline to make a report. County child welfare staff continue to work and do safety assessments. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
Isolation, financial or parenting stress are just some of the risk factors for child abuse and neglect. Learn more about the signs of abuse and neglect.
For people in Colorado who are experiencing abuse in their relationship, domestic violence programs in Colorado continue to offer support services, including emergency housing assistance. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help. The number is 1-800−799−7233. You will be directed to a local resource.
Mental health services
When you hear, read or watch news about an outbreak of an infectious disease such as COVID-19, it’s normal to feel anxious and stressed. Taking care of yourself during times of stress and uncertainty is extremely important. We want you to know there are support systems and resources available to help you maintain your own wellness during an infectious disease outbreak. Colorado Crisis Services is available 24/7/365 if you need to talk. Call 1-844-493-8255.
Support is available for people in Colorado whose jobs have reduced hours or who may need help with food or paying bills. Contact your local county department of human/social services to apply for benefits or visit the Colorado Peak website to apply.