Parenting tips and tricks for the pandemic holidays


How long has it been since social distancing became the norm? It feels like ages, and while stopping the spread of the virus is incredibly important, we can admit that isolation and working from home has strained our metal health.

Parenting is already challenging and the pandemic has put additional pressure on moms and dads who must be teacher, soccer coach, friend, and parent all at once. Many children have already spent their summer inside and had to deal with the disappointment of cancelled school activities.

With the holidays approaching, many parents will have to contend with a different season than planned. They will have to balance family traditions with the required social distancing that the pandemic demands and kids who are moody for good reason.

No doubt many moms and dads will have to have challenging conversations with their children in the coming weeks, and they may also feel upset themselves that their holiday season has been impacted so deeply by the pandemic.

Our next Be Connections, hosted by Dr. Renée Garrick, will cover this topic. Join this event to find clarity and practical parenting advice for these challenging times. And check out the following tips for more.

Have compassion. Have patience and empathy for your kids and more importantly for yourself. If you don’t have compassion for yourself, it will be hard to have compassion for kids. Give yourself a break. We’re all in uncharted territory. Just as it’s okay for your kids to be upset and cry, it’s normal for you to experience a range of emotions as well. If you need help staying positive, check out our gratitude, meditation, and mindfulness exercises for the holidays.

Normalize emotions. Emotions are normal, yet we are never taught how to recognize and manage them. We are all experiencing a range of feelings with the pandemic. From anger to sadness to irritability to happiness. These emotional extremes present a great opportunity to teach kids that feelings are normal and how to manage them. The next time one of your kids has a meltdown, ask them to breathe and explain what they are feeling. Teach them healthy outlets for their feelings, like talking, making art, or listening to calming music.

Routines matter. Consistency is key when parenting, but the pandemic has thrown our daily habits and holiday rituals out the window. Still, do your best to set a routine for your kids, even when they are off from school during the holidays. Try to set a consistent bedtime as well as breakfast time. Take a break around lunch for a family walk. It might be hard to create a daily routine, and if this is the case, make a weekly tradition. This consistency will create a sense of normalcy in your family and reduce the anxiety of wondering what will happen next.

Meditation isn’t just for adults. Kids can benefit from meditation and mindfulness practices as well. And it isn’t as challenging as you might think to introduce these concepts to your family. Check out this blog post on how to get started today.

Create new traditions. Holiday traditions are important for many families and putting them aside can be upsetting. Whether it’s traveling to grandma’s house, participating in a public tree lighting ceremony, or a holiday pageant, many typical celebrations will be cancelled or drastically changed this year. It’s normal for family’s to be sad that they may not be able to keep their traditions, but it’s also an opportunity to try something new. Find new holiday games or movies to watch together. Find new recipes to make with your kids. Try your hand at new crafts or build a pillow fort in the living room. Build happy memories despite the circumstances.

Consider taking more time off work. This is by no means a necessary step, but if you can, consider taking more time off during the holidays. And if you are considering not taking vacation since you won’t be traveling or as busy during the holidays this year, think twice. Your kids will likely need more attention as they navigate this challenging holiday season and don’t discount the fact that you may also need more time to recharge and reset. Change is challenging, especially as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

Consider ways to give back. Caring for your community is more important than ever right now, and giving back will also make your kids feel more productive and positive. There are plenty of ways you can have an impact without volunteering in person. Participate in a food drive or donate clothes you don’t wear anymore. Have your kids help pick out toys for children in need. You can even foster a pet.

Know this won’t last forever. It may seem like 2020 and the pandemic will stretch on forever, but one day, we won’t be required to social distance and we can pick up many of our regular activities. Think of all the rough times you’ve endured before and how you made it through. This is also a good lesson to instill in your children. Have patience and the tide will turn. Also, consider the things you’ve learned from these challenging times and how you want to build a new and better normal for you and your family.

Parenting during the pandemic holiday season is no easy feat, but if you take care of your mental health and approach these difficult times with compassion, you can make happy memories that will last a life time.