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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

Advice from a Therapist: Living Your Best Life Through the Pandemic

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We are starting a new year, yet continue to find ourselves in a pandemic living world. We need to focus on ways to survive and thrive as parents as we navigate our new normal.

Too much has happened for us to just go back to the way we were before the pandemic. We have been challenged over the two years to adapt, modify, shift, and pivot our entire lives and the world as we once knew it. And most of all we have were forced to accept change. And we learned a lot. We had no choice but to slow down our lives and really focus the way we lived our lives through a new lens. Our physical, emotional, and mental health were affected and now it’s time to take control of our lives and start thriving again! So how do we take those lessons we learned and apply them to our lives now?

TAKE IT SLOW

There is no rush up jump out there again and do your old normal! Take re-entering the world at your own pace and take things slowly if you need to for your own peace of mind. The world will be waiting for you when you are ready!

SET BOUNDARIES

Healthy boundaries are so beneficial for mental health success. Setting boundaries can look differently for people, so do what’s best for you. This might mean to limit your time on social media and or only follow accounts that help, inspire, and motivate you to be the best person you can be. This might mean not checking your emails as soon as you wake up, in the evening, or on the weekends. This might mean to limit your time with your boss at work during the week, extended family, or even friends on the weekend. This may mean cutting off relationships that aren’t healthy for you. This might mean SAYING NO to being too busy and extra commitments! And just because you did it in the past, and people may expect differently of you, be strong and break the cycle. Be bold, be strong, be brave, and be the way you want to be, even if others pressure you!

BE INTENTIONAL

I think if I were to choose a word for this past year, it would be “intentionality.” It means to live each day to its fullest. It means taking advantage of opportunities in real time. It’s about being intentional about your time and what you do to fill your time. Even if you want to take a nap, be intentional about it, telling yourself you are giving your body a well deserved break. Be mindful and live in the moment.

“Live today like it’s the last day of your life or the first day of the rest of your life.”

This doesn’t mean to engage in risky behavior, it means choosing to live in the present and do what is most important to you, so if it were to end tomorrow you have no regrets. It means that today is a new chapter of your life’s book, and you have control to write what is on the pages and write the direction it takes. Take advantage of opportunities to bond with your family. Be an active participant in your children’s lives and don’t take a passive backseat to their wellbeing. It also means being intentional with your life and decisions you make on a daily basis. Are you exercising and eating healthy? Are you taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally? Are you making the best decisions for yourself? How are you handling your stress? What are your coping skills? Be the best role model you can be and be intentional about what you do, how you act, what decisions you make, and how you live your life.

PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME

Figure out what is most important to you. Set intentions for the day (or the week, month, or year) and hold yourself accountable. How do you want to spend your day? I often say I don’t have time for certain things (and sometimes its true) but sometimes it’s because I’m not prioritizing my time the way I should be. How you start your day is a big predictor on how the rest of your day goes. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day to set you and your body up for success, and I would argue, that setting your morning routine in the best way possible, predicts the rest of your day and how well it will go mentally and emotionally. So start your morning prioritizing your day with daily affirmations, a morning mantra, meditation, exercise, morning devotions, etc. Be proactive and not reactive about your life and what direction you want it to take each day. Turn off the television, put your phone away, and get that project you have been putting off done. Take breaks when you need to, but ultimately do what really matters first, and everything else will fall into place. And each night, ask yourself if you led your best life that day and ask yourself what you would have done differently. Make small modifications each day until you hit a rhythm you like and a daily ritual or pattern you are happy with. Set timers for yourself if you have to if you tend to get distracted. And ask for help if you need it.

RESET EXPECTATIONS

Be flexible. Give yourself some grace. Days will not go as you planned. Days will not go how you want. And that’s ok. Be ok with change. Be ok with failed expectations. Be ok with being flexible. Learn to forgive yourself and move on. Start small and make measurable, reasonable, and achievable expectations for your day. When we make rigid expectations with ourselves or our day things rarely go as planned. We end up setting ourselves up for stress and feelings of disappointment. So start slowly to change your perspective to more of a growth mindset!

SCHEDULE SELF CARE

Yes! Set up a time for yourself to engage in some sort of self care once a day or once a week. Self care might mean going to bed early and letting your partner put the kids to bed. Self care might mean taking an extended walk alone in the neighborhood and getting some fresh air and exercise. Self care might mean listening to your favorite music and taking a bath. Self care might mean curling up with some coffee or tea with your favorite book before anyone in your home is awake! The most important part to remember is to schedule it. Make self care a priority and don’t let it go more than a week to treat yourself!

LIVE BY YOUR VALUES

Have you ever really thought about what your values are? And do you live by your values on a regular basis? There are 3 ways to conceptualize values: ones that are sacred like family, health, faith, education, or career, guiding values like wisdom and courage, and virtue values like integrity or kindness. Here is a list of some other values. Which ones do you live by?

* Dependability

* Reliability

* Loyalty

* Commitment

* Open-mindedness

* Consistency

* Honesty

* Efficiency

* Achievement

* Adventure

* Courage

* Creativity

* Determination

* Friendship

* Health

I hope you find these tips helpful! I would love to hear how you are living your best life!

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