Pandemic Parenting: Personal Un-Distancing

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

By John Foulkes, Registered Psychotherapist 

Given the recent events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest challenges expressed within our Dig a Little Deeper clinical practice and my Better Dads Coaching practice, is how to navigate the day-to-day living at home with loved ones.

The experience may feel strange or even weird and the lack of structure while sharing a confined space can make getting along with each other very challenging.

​Keeping a positive mood within the family unit can be one the biggest challenges. Our patience with our children starts to wear thin, conflict starts to brew, and as parents we can feel like a failure. 

THREE TIPS FOR PERSONAL UN-DISTANCING WITH OUR KIDS

1. Practice Mindfulness: To contend with the challenges of being isolated at home and in close proximity to our loved ones, we can practice mindfulness.  We can be more resourceful when managing our day emotions, or interactions with our loved ones. Simply notice what you’re feeling, in terms of emotions and the energy of your body, to determine what you need in that moment. 

Dig Tip: you may notice that you feel worried or frustrated. You may need to practice deep breathing, journaling, or relaxing or vigorous exercise. These practices will help shift your attitude and lift your mood to make you more effective when you are trying to communicate or connect with others.

2. Better Communication: It’s often not what we say but how we say it. It’s often the case we need to only listen and say less, when we want to communicate with our kids. Our children are not used to being around their parents so much, especially when they’re being told what to do and when to do it more often now.

​To make communication more effective, listen more intently and reflect back the bottom line of what you’re hearing from your children. They need to feel that you’re listening to them and care about what they are saying. Validating something that they say can show them their words hold merit and can boost their self-esteem. 

Dig Tip: in response to what they’ve said say, “I hear that you’re bored and wish there were something fun to do. Thanks for letting me know. Is there something we can do like play a boardgame or play your video game together?”

3. Blocking Time: If you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done. When you’re stuck at home for long periods of time, the days can feel like an eternity and become a blur. In addition to home projects that you may want to do, or work from home which requires you to be on online or by phone, make time for being mindful and to connect with your kids.  Make their needs a priority. 

  1. Dig Tip: give your day some structure that includes blocking off specific times to practice mindfulness, to engage in relaxing or vigorous exercise, or to spend quality time with your partner or kids. Let your family know when you’ll be engaging in these practices; they may want to be included as a way to be able to spend time and bond with you.
Pandemic parent support COVID19 Caledon Bolton

Although these tips may seem like common sense, they are not commonly practiced, especially when we are stressed.

Practicing personal un-distancing can make us more resourceful and enhance our ability to communicate and connect with our love ones.  To be a better dad or parent, try these strategies and discover how you can have a happier family in these challenging times. 

Stay safe!

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John Foulkes

John is a Psychotherapist & Coach at Dig A Little Deeper, Psychotherapy & Counselling in Caledon, ON.

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