By Elizabeth McBride
Read Time: 7 Minutes
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched us at every level. While it has taken lives of loved ones, changed our work, taken away the comfort of a hug and much more, it has also highlighted the remarkable strength and resilience of families and communities. You and your family should be proud of the work you're doing, both inside and outside the home. You're adapting to new ways to live, work, learn, and play. You're coping with the stresses of a world that doesn't look like it did a year ago, and you're making good decisions. Keep doing what you need to do to keep your family and community together. Ask for help when you need it. Never feel like you're alone, because you aren't.
Relaxing rules around screen time can be the first step in relieving some stress in your home. Take a minute to talk to your kids about why and how you're making changes to the rules.
Perfection is not the goal.
There is no such thing as picture-perfect parenting, now or ever, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution for your family. There's plenty of advice out there that's great, but don't be afraid to adapt it to fit your family. To do your best as a parent, give yourself a break and plug into a support network. Here are some tips that may help:
Taking a break from parenting is part of good parenting.
Schedule a few minutes a day to yourself. It may be early morning or late evening, or perhaps a short walk outside. If you have younger kids at home who need supervision, work with the other grownups in the house to make time.
Kids need a break from you, too.
Look for safe ways to promote independence and let your kids make choices for themselves. This can be as simple as letting children pick out their own clothes or choose how they spend their free time.
Build a support network.
Every parent needs backup. It may be family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers. Take the time to reach out to others today.
Ask for help when you need it.
It may be as simple as asking someone to run an errand or lend a listening ear, or as significant as asking for help with an urgent problem. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
Scroll to the bottom of this article to find recommendations for resources that can help you in times of emergency.
COVID-19 has rewritten the rules on how we support each other, but the care and concern we have for each other hasn't changed. Always remember, you're not alone. Parenting is hard, but it's worth it
Parents need to know
The coronavirus raises questions for all families. You probably wonder how to help your family stay safe and healthy - whether you're expecting, have young children, or are the parent of tweens or teens. Here are some answers to common questions and resources that can help.
I'm pregnant. Am I at higher risk from COVID-19?
It's okay to be worried about your baby. Based on what we know at this time, pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. If you are pregnant make sure you're practicing social distancing, staying healthy, taking vitamins and avoiding other people who are sick. The Center for Disease Control has some useful information and recommendations for pregnant and breastfeeding parents.
Should I always I keep my baby home? What if I need to go to the store or pharmacy? Does she need a mask?
You should try to keep your baby at home as much as possible to keep them safe from infection. While there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children, we do know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus. It is important to follow the advice of your pediatrician and never hesitate to ask questions.
Some pharmacies are offering delivery service or have a drive-thru, and some stores offer curbside pickup. Consider using these no-contact options if you don't have someone who can run small errands for you.
My kid started having bathroom accidents again. Is this normal? What should I do?
It's important to be patient and understanding. Children are sensitive to changes in routine, and we've all had to establish new ones. Let your child know it's okay and that accidents happen. With potty training, it's okay to start over! If you've experienced a setback, go ahead and jump back in to training by setting times to sit on the potty, read books about going to the potty, and watch shows around it. Your child will be back on track before you know it!
My child is anxious about what the future holds. How can I support her when I'm just as worried?
Don't be afraid to talk to your kids about what's happening in the world, and how you can all work together to be safe. You don't have to know all the answers. When your child asks about the future, listen carefully and offer to look for answers together. There are resources ready to support both of you, including youth and family hotlines and local resources, too.
My kids are having a hard time being away from friends and family (and so am I!) Any suggestions?
We're all experiencing cabin fever. Here are some ideas:
- Schedule video chats or playdates with family and friends.
- Find a local park for some distanced play with others. Stay safe and wear masks if you do!
- Plan an activity for the kids to do together (like a show-and-tell) to help facilitate some conversation or even learning.
- Have kids write (or narrate) emails or draw pictures to send to their friends.
- Older kids (and adults) can start a pen pal group and send cards or letters through snail mail.
- Apps like Marco Polo, FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, or Facebook Messenger Kids provide an opportunity for children to connect with their friends.
My tweens are getting on each other's nerves - and mine! What should I do?
Even on the best of days siblings can drive each other crazy. Being at home together for extended periods makes it even more challenging to give everyone the space they need.
- Set up a room or a place in your home where kids can go if they want some space away from the rest of the family. If your kids share a room have them agree to schedule some alone time there.
- This is a great time and age to start giving kids more responsibility and ownership of household tasks. Work together to set family schedules and tasks, and make each child responsible for their projects. Praise them for the work they do in making the house tidy - a little positivity goes a long way!
- It's tempting to step in and squash an argument or flareup to keep the house quiet, but for a longer-lasting solution, teach your kids how to work through their differences and how they might solve them together.
My teen is super stressed about graduating from high school and her college plans during COVID-19. What can I do?
Knowledge is power for you and your teen. Help her manage what she can do during this time. Check high school and college websites for guidance, changes, or extensions that schools are making to their graduation or admissions processes. Make a list of what is stressing her out, ranked from most to least, and pick some at the bottom to tackle first. Dealing with those will help create confidence and free up energy for tackling bigger worries.
This is also a good time to explore healthy ways to independently cope with stress and prepare for managing the day-to-day stresses of being an independent young adult out of high school.
Got a question?
Send us an email. We'll continue posting questions and answers to this page as we get them.
Tips on parenting 24/7
Parents across Texas are working to find the balance between staying connected, daily life, work, child care, and self-care. Right now, the most important thing is to have realistic expectations for yourself, expect that kids will be kids, and do your best to manage your stress. We will routinely update our Resource Bank with tools and tips to help you keep your kid entertained and your family connected, as well as ideas for self-care!
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Break up the workday with regular time to interact with your child, whether that's with active play, taking a walk, or just spending time with your young one.
- For other caregivers, taking a break to eat lunch or snacks with your child may be the best option.
- Consider relaxing your rules around screen time.
- Remember, kids will be kids. Praise their good behavior and help them learn strategies for times when they get tired or frustrated.
When you're struggling with money
Many families are struggling financially because of job losses. If you need some help, dial 2-1-1, or (877) 541-7905 for information about resources in your local community. Whether you need assistance finding food, housing, child care, crisis counseling, or substance use treatment, one number is all you need to know. You can also visit the Texas Diaper Bank for direct diaper needs.
- If you need assistance finding food, paying house bills or other essential services, dial 2-1-1 to speak to someone locally or visit 211Texas.org to find services online.
- If you lost your job or income because of COVID-19, apply for benefits online at the Texas Workforce Commission or by calling TWC's Tele-Center at (800) 939-6631 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.
- The Texas Youth Helpline provides services to youth, parents, siblings, and other family members who are in need of a caring voice and sympathetic ear. Trained volunteers are on call to provide guidance on youth-related concerns, referral information, or simply to listen.
- Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about will go a long way toward reducing fear and stress.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has this advice: