Mindful Parenting During a Pandemic
Parents have been stretched in a million different ways during this pandemic and pushed beyond the limits in ways they did not know were possible.
All at once, we were hopping on and off work zoom calls between episodes of Cocomelon, driving our children to get the rapid test on our lunch hours because there was a close contact at school or leaving work early to be able to be present with our child. All while balancing the looming anxiousness of “what if’s” about our child’s health and safety.
It is no wonder why parents are reaching out voicing struggles with burnout. As a parent, you might be feeling exhaustion, resentment, sleep-deprivation and just struggling to stay afloat.
To these parents, I see you and I hear you. And my words to you would be:
1) Give yourself a round of applause, or better yet, a standing ovation: Parenting throws a lot of curveballs. Just when we think we got it figured out, something hits us out of the blue. With this in mind, there is no way to have predicted this is what parenting would look like in 2022. Yet, you showed up. Every day. And you did the best you could with the tools in front of you. You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but I lost my cool in more ways than I can count along the way.” I’m here to say – this is okay.
In fact, a widely used parent-child therapy modality is called, “Circle of Security” which looks at how we as parents respond to the child in a way that builds on secure attachment. When children feel a secure attachment with their caregivers, they feel confident and safe to explore their world. It might be of reassurance to know that this modality has done extensive research on what creates a “secure attachment” and they found that good enough parenting is, indeed, enough.
2) Give yourself permission to let go of the times you didn’t respond the way you wanted to and tune into the repair.
We do not have to be perfect parents every second of every minute. When we make a mistake, we can role model that we are humans with imperfections and this act in itself tells our children, “it is okay to make mistakes, we all do and you are allowed to share how it made you feel. I will love you no matter what.”
3) Know that the best thing you can do for your child in this moment is to regulate your own emotions the best you can.
So often I will hear parents say they struggle to take time away from their child. Feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment regularly come up. “But I love my child and I do not want to be away from them” You can love your child and tune into your own needs too. In fact, I gently challenge you to think of this act of self-preservation as an act of love towards your child. By tuning into your body and giving yourself what you need, you are showing your child that they have a parent who listens to their needs and you show up, moments later, with the ability to be more present than if you had not stepped away.
Lindsay Savard, MSW, is a Registered Social Worker with the Alberta College of Social Workers and specializes in the areas of parenting support and relationships, as well as many others. For more information on Lindsay and her work click here to link to her full bio page.