Stay In, Stay Sane: 10+ Tips for Parents
BY SANJEEV VASISHTHA, MD
These are difficult times. We have all had to adjust to a new lifestyle of staying indoors. Some of us are working from home, while others have been laid off. For our children, school as they know it has stopped and they are looking to us for guidance to get through each day. Here are several ideas I want to share with you to help you manage this new indoors life:
1. Organize. Plan your day – every day – for yourself as well as your children. It will give you a sense of purpose and keep you preoccupied. Put aside time for work, exercise, fun and relaxation.
2. Think positively. There is still a lot of good going on. Our communities are facing this challenge bravely. I am inundated with emails and messages from people asking how they can help. I am touched by the strangers coming up to me and thanking me for being a part of the medical profession in these times. Avoid too much negativity, including frequent updates about COVID-19 on TV, social media, internet news feeds or in email.
3. Practice gratitude. What are a few things we are grateful for in our life? Every day make time to focus on one thing that you are grateful for, whether it’s for your family, friends, memories of happy times, your pets or having food on the table.
4. Hope. Think of something to look forward to later this year. What is the one thing you would love to do once this is all over? For me, I am looking forward to taking a trip to Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, two of the most beautiful areas in North America. I will make sure I take time for that vacation as soon as I can travel again.
5. Enjoy togetherness. We finally have the chance to spend long hours together as a family. Make good use of this time. Make sure to do fun things together with your children – whether it is an activity like playing a board game or cards, taking a walk around the neighborhood, cooking a meal together, sitting together at the dining table and eating, or just relaxing and talking about things we enjoy. It can be a very fulfilling experience.
6. Practice mindfulness. Make time to turn inwards when staying in! Practicing mindfulness will make you calmer, more compassionate and ultimately, a happier person.
Ten Percent Happier website and app
Headspace website and app
Gelong Thubten books and YouTube videos
Maria Sirois, PsyD, books and short course in happiness after loss
Marc and Angel Chernoff website and books
7. Take up hobbies that reduce stress. Music, reading, gardening, yoga, quilting, knitting, crafting, painting, doodling, bonsai, cooking, creating YouTube videos, among others, are all hobbies that you can do at home by yourself or in a Zoom or GoToMeeting group. Recommendations for free courses:
8. Interact with extended family. We are lucky to live in this time of technology and easy communication. Make good use of this time to be there for each other, as it will not be long before we are back to our busy lives again. Pick up the phone, get on FaceTime or Skype – talking with and looking at a friendly face has immense power. In my own family, we have started a chain of emails to recognize and honor our grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles who have passed. We share interesting anecdotes from their lives and describe their personalities so younger members of our family can understand where they came from.
9. Cherish time with your pet. Our pets are growing crazy with happiness to see all the family members in the house all the time. My Corgi follows me around the house and yard. And when she lies down by my feet, looks lovingly at me with those beautiful eyes, I am filled with joy! If you happen to adopt a shelter pet during this coronavirus outbreak, please make sure it’s well cared for once you start work outside the home because these animals give us their unconditional love and loyalty.
10. Seek guidance. Access counseling resources from your doctor or therapist, priest or guru. They are here for you. Please call if you have anxiety related to the current situation, feelings of sadness, feelings of panic or despair. Discussion with an empathetic person certainly helps. Request a video visit with your doctor to get some helpful tips.
11. Appreciate nature. Look outside the window – spring is here! Dogwood, magnolia, crabapple and cherry trees are in full bloom. Blue jays and red finches are singing their songs, and the grass has turned a beautiful emerald green. Good days are coming.
About the author
Sanjeev Vasishtha, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician with LVPG Pediatrics. Dr. Vasishtha describes himself as an advocate for children. He feels privileged to provide care to children and will do everything he can to help them live healthy, successful lives.
Stay informed about coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community by visiting LVHN.org/COVID19.