Being a mom for the first time is a scary experience as it is. Add a global pandemic to the mix and you’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience true terror. While being at home with your child can create amazing opportunities for bonding, it can also be stressful. Here are a few tips and coping tactics to help you juggle self-care and parenting through this strange time.
Learn about intuitive parenting
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re at home with your first child. Whether you’re one of the 15 million Americans who are self-employed and work from home or you have an office job, this much time at home to parent can leave you feeling a little off-kilter and overwhelmed. Don’t let the anxiety of being the “perfect” mom get to you. Instead, take this time to learn about principles like intuitive parenting. If you’re parenting a child between the ages of 2 and 10, this strategy will likely work best for you. What is intuitive parenting? Here are a few basic principles to follow:
- Focus on your child and react naturally to what they’re doing.
- Encourage independent problem solving and offer support when barriers appear.
- Take cues from your child’s interests.
- Be patient with your child’s learning.
- Make efforts to be in-tune with your own unique parenting voice.
When you practice intuitive parenting, you take yourself out of that cookie-cutter style of child-rearing that so many people follow. Un-learning societal expectations for your style of parenting can be tough, but you’ll notice a marked difference in how you and your child interact during your quarantine time together.
Keep activities super short
If your children are between 2 and 10, your first instinct might be to keep them entertained 24/7. Under normal circumstances where you’re putting 13,500 miles on your car every year, you might have taken them on a drive to calm them down. There’s no mobile escape now! But there’s also no need to keep your child involved in elaborate activities that span hours, either. In fact, shorter activities are almost always better. Take breaks often, especially when you notice your child getting antsy or distracted. This is how you juggle self-care and parenting in a sustainable way.
Sometimes you might be at a loss for ideas. When that happens — and it will happen because you’re human — consider taking a few of these ideas and running with them. The best part? You can do at least a few these from your couch or with a cup of coffee in hand.
- Have a jumping jacks contest.
- Play a quick game of Simon Says.
- Read a quick story.
- Host a mini-scavenger hunt.
- Conduct a parade around the house.
- Play a game of follow the leader.
Stay in touch with your mom friends
You can learn as much about intuitive parenting as you want, but at the end of the day you’re going to need some kind of support. In times as stressful as these, emotional support from other moms you know is going to be monumentally helpful. When you’re looking for ways to juggle self-care and parenting, it’s important to prioritize support.
You might not be able to go out for coffee or take the kids out to the park together right now, and that’s okay. Fortunately, technology has allowed almost all of us to stay connected. So have your girls’ night virtually! Part of a new mom book club? Keep those meetings going. Now more than ever, it’s important for you to get the emotional support and connection you need. Most importantly, other moms in your life are experiencing many of the same feelings you are. Support and be supported.
When you make your emotional and mental health a priority, your child will benefit. You might be more patient, have more energy, or just have a better outlook on the day. Don’t underestimate the support of moms who are going through the same thing!
Care for yourself physically
We all envy children for the energy they have. “But instead of feeling bad about not having any energy, use your child’s energy as some inspiration to get moving!” says Morgan Taylor from Baby Schooling, an online resource and product review site.
Even if it’s 20 minutes of yoga in the morning, keeping your body moving is key during this time. And if you’re really stuck for ideas, have your child walk you through a workout of their own design. You might end up working harder than you thought. And remember: learning how to juggle self-care and parenting takes practice.
And of course, nutrition is part of caring for yourself and your family. A few important things to keep in mind include:
- Keeping your drinking water clean and free of hard minerals, especially if you use a private well.
- Incorporating fruits and veggies into every meal. Smoothies are a great way to hide them if your child is a picky eater.
- Paying close attention to any food sensitivities or allergies.
- Keeping snack options available, but free of over-processed foods.
Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys and greatest challenges. When you’re stuck at home? It can feel even tougher. So make sure you consider a few of these tips for learning how to juggle self-care and parenting — they just might be the push you need to thrive while you’re parenting during quarantine.