Self-care is not selfish or indulgent, it’s how we keep ourselves well to ensure we are physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of being there for our young children.
The Case for Self-Care During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Your health and well-being are important so that you can nurture your child. The realities of COVID-19 make self-care even more important. The unknowns of what’s coming next can worry even the calmest of parents. If faced with long periods of uncertainty, other stressors may emerge, but young children need their parents to offer a calm, stable, and predictable “home base” for them. It’s a challenge, but as a parent, the best way to help your child be at their best is to take care of yourself.
Pay Attention to How You Are Feeling
Take the time to notice your feelings and pause and reflect before responding to sources of stress.
Imagine Your Child’s Behavior as a Communication
When young children experience a change in their routines, they may be confused or upset, and when you encounter a challenging behaviour, pause to think about what your child might be telling you. How could you respond in a way that meets their needs best? For example, if your child misses seeing their grandparent, you can arrange for a video chat.
Make Time for Self-Care
If you’re stuck at home due to coronavirus precautions, your family may be together 24 hours a day and it may feel impossible to get a break for yourself. Talk to your partner about how you can share caregiving time so that each of you has a little time alone. If you and your partner are balancing work-at-home with childcare, collaborate on creating daily schedules that allow each of you to focus on key professional responsibilities while keeping children safe and occupied.
Taking Care of Yourself
What activities make you happy? Reduce your stress level? Leave you feeling calm and rejuvenated? It’s different for everybody. What’s important is finding self-care strategies that work for YOU—ones that bring you peace and are realistic to use. Think about ways of adapting activities to formats that encourage social distancing:
• Outdoor/group exercise activities
• Stay in touch with supports
• If you find yourself getting restless, dust off your “when I have time” list
• Take time to relax
We are in uncharted territory. Preparing for and living with the impact of coronavirus will have its challenges, and self-care may not seem like a priority, but that’s not true. Keeping ourselves supported and sustained is exactly what we need to ensure our families stay strong. You won’t just feel better, but you’ll be better for your family as well.