Parenting During a Pandemic

Parenting is not a job for the faint of heart.  It's one of the most important jobs you will ever undertake. 

Add a pandemic in the mix and you really need the wisdom of God to lead your children.  

If you are feeling depleted, frustrated and stressed out trying to parent well in the midst of all the craziness, you are not alone.  Everyone who is a parent in these days needs a lot of extra grace and wisdom. 

Let's look at few ways you can parent well during these trying days.

Be honest with your kids and answer their questions.  

Pretending there is nothing wrong and trying to hide children from what is happening is not the best route to take.  Answer their questions age-appropriately.   Keep it simple with younger children.  Older elementary children can handle more of the details about what is happening. 

Share with them that people are getting sick.  Emphasize why that makes it important to take safety steps like washing your hands, wearing a mask and staying at home as much as possible. 

Acknowledge your child's feelings.  They may be upset because they can't do things that they loved doing before the pandemic.  Help them find other ways to connect with their friends and family members (cousins, children in the neighborhood, kids on sports team, etc.).  Perhaps it's a phone call or a Skype or Facetime call. 

Stay calm.  Often children reflect what their parents are feeling.  Don't freak out.  Acknowledge that it is a trying time, but don't reflect panic, anger and insecurity.  Kids will pick up on your reactions and often mimic those reactions.  Model before them how to properly manage your emotions. 

Focus on the future.  Let them know that scientists are creating medicine that will keep people from getting sick and things will get better.  You can help your child be less worried by sharing what doctors and scientists are doing to make medicine that will help.

Maintain schedules.  Kids need structure in normal circumstances, but especially during a pandemic.  In situations where it's impossible to keep the same routine, establish a new schedule.  Structure and routines will help kids have a sense of order which brings security.  

Discipline.  A pandemic can bring anxiety.  Kids (depending on their age) may not have the words they need to express how they are feeling.  Younger kids may act out their stress through their behavior.  Older kids may get upset and become vocal about their frustrations.  Stay patient with them. 

Find positive, fun things for them to do.  It's easy to get bored sitting in the house all day if you don't have specific things for kids to do.  Give them ideas of fun things to do.  Maybe it's building an indoor fort or castle with bed sheets.  Maybe it's watching a movie together.  Maybe it's cooking their favorite treat.  Maybe it's drawing a picture about what they are feeling. 

Use rewards and privileges to reinforce good behavior.  Completed homework.  Chores around the house done.  Getting along with siblings.  Honor them for doing these type things.

Spend extra time with your children.  Many people are working from home during this pandemic.  Capture those extra moments you may have and spend time with your children.  Give them your undivided attention.  They will remember this for the rest of their lives.

Listen to your kids.  Listen to their worries.  Listen to their fears.  Listen to find out what their anxieties are.

Fill your tank up.  Make sure you are first taking care of yourself physically and emotionally.  You can't help your children if you are not well yourself.  Exercise.  Eat good.  Get enough sleep.  Take breaks.  

You may be like me.  You hate to stop for gas.  The last thing I want to do is stand there while the tank is being refilled.  It seems like the numbers that tell you how much gas you are getting take forever.  Especially when you get down to the last 20 or so numbers left and it slows down.  You watch as it slowly creeps toward the amount you paid.  I don't want to have to stop.  I have places to go.  People to met.  Work to be done.  But if I don't stop to re-fuel, I will inevitably run out of gas and be stuck on the side of the road.  

It's the same way as a parent.  Watching and investing in your children can deplete you very quickly.  It is crucial that you stop and refill yourself often by spending time with God, enjoying a good book, watching your favorite TV show, enjoying a hobby, etc.   Refill physically and emotionally.  Look what I Timothy 4:16 says.

 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.    

As we lead ourselves well it empowers us to lead our kids well.  You can't give what you don't have.  Stay filled up and the overflow will pour into the lives of your kids. 

Stay positive.  If you are positive, your kids will be positive.  If you are negative, your kids will reflect negativity. When we transmit worry, our kids will pick up on it.

Pray with them.  Spend extra time praying with them.  At bedtime.  At family devotion time (if you don't have a family devotion time, now is a great time to start).  This is a great time to help kids understand that prayer is talking to God about our needs, worries, anxieties and other prayer requests. 

What a privilege and honor it is to be a parent.  We have been entrusted by God to lead our children.  May we lean upon Him for the wisdom needed to lead them during this pandemic.