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Topic Thursdays: Parenting during the pandemic

It is no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride for many parents. The Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) however, made it known that parents are not alone and the Commission hopes to provide some support and encouragement.

During the AFLC weekly Topic Thursday Facebook live discussion, Mental Health Clinician, Crystal Johnson, who is also a mother of three, understood how difficult it can be to juggle schoolwork, recreation and daily responsibilities. She noted the situation can feel more problematic as everything is now happening in one place—at the home.

As she shared on the July 30 topic ‘Parenting during COVID-19’, she said, “I have expressed many times that the first step [for a parent] is to acknowledge one’s emotions. Do not feel fearful and anxious that you are in this alone. Try sharing how you feel with friends and relatives to help ease the emotional burdens. If that is not working for you, I would recommend getting in contact with a mental health professional.”

One of her tips was establishing boundaries in the household. “During this time boundaries are often blurred. Designate times for work and play for both you and the kids. For my 4-year-old, I often do my own work next to her so she may model what I am doing. It helps her understand that it is now a time for us to be quiet and diligent with the tasks in front of us.”

Johnson added getting kids in the habit of a routine is also important even if it strays from a routine they were accustomed to pre pandemic.  “I think a good tip is putting up a schedule where your children can see so they know where things are happening. I would not recommend it be rigid all the time but let it be flexible as it suits your household.”

With many things happening virtually and as families are encouraged to stay indoors, Johnson says to monitor your children’s screen time. “Regardless of their age, invite them to watch things online with you like movies, educational documentaries and other videos. We want to avoid them being online for hours.”

Parents are advised to go “easy” on themselves when they feel as though they cannot keep up with everything or as though some days are in perpetual chaos. Johnson assured, “That’s OK!”.

She noted that  parents may feel like they are managing so well and, at other times, feel like they are failing somehow. “When that does happen, do not worry. I can only say try your best and if it gets really overwhelming, never forget to reach out to someone.”

In closing, Johnson emphasised the importance of communicating properly with your family. “Let your kids feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you. Let them know you are open to actively listen and empathise with them. Understand it is a challenging time for both you as a parent as well as the children.”

Tune in to Topic Thursdays LIVE at 2 p.m. via the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s Facebook page.