10 Things for Parents to Remember As They Navigate the New Normal

how to help your family navigate the new normal

These new lifestyle changes are just a temporary bump in the road.

The world is a pretty chaotic place at the moment. Everyone goes through hardships differently, but as a parent, coping with the new responsibilities that come with teleworking and having your kids at home can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Here are 10 important things to keep in mind as you and your family navigate through these uncharted waters.

1. Life is constantly changing and this new challenge is just as temporary as past obstacles your family has overcome.

Heraclitus said it best with his quote, “Change is the only constant in life.” Our lives are always changing and we’re always adapting to these new changes. Some changes are very positive while others, like what’s happening now, seem quite negative.

Rather than focusing on stress or fear over how to adapt to a new situation you have no experience with, reflect on the previous struggles your family has overcome in the past. You and your family are resilient, and you’ll get past this just like you have with other hardships.

2. Even though you may be taking on more responsibilities for your family right now, you’re not expected to do everything by yourself.

With kids home from school there’s more entertaining to do, more cooking, more cleaning, and more refereeing between siblings. On top of that, you’re also taking the role of teacher and trying to get your own work done at the same time. You’re juggling even more responsibilities than before and that means delegating tasks is crucial.

You don’t need to do everything yourself and, in reality, it isn’t healthy to try to do everything yourself. Ask for help often, whether it’s from your kids, your spouse, or other family members.

3. A realistic, flexible daily schedule will help keep your family on track and alleviate stress from not knowing what to do.

Humans are creatures of habit and excel when they have routines, especially children who are used to a structured schedule at school.

Hold a family meeting and design a daily schedule that your whole family can agree with. Make it flexible and don’t be afraid to change it up if you find your first idea isn’t working. You can also have individual schedules for each family member in addition to a general family routine plan.

4. When your kids are acting out, remind yourself that they’re coping with the same emotions that you are.

Kids act out for a number of reasons and right now can be a trying time for parents who are dealing with mixed emotions of their own. When your kids are acting out, take a moment to remind yourself that they’re just as stressed, frustrated, and tense as you may be. Even very young children can feel confused or upset because they don’t understand why things are different.

If you’re finding your kids are acting up more than usual, take them aside and have a private conversation about how they’re feeling. Be compassionate and don’t be afraid to let them know that you’re feeling a little funny, too.

5. It’s hard for normal household rules to apply when your family is facing very abnormal circumstances.

Under normal circumstances you might have limits on screen time, no TV before homework, no snacks before dinner, or strict bedtimes. It’s still important to have rules right now, but it’s also important to remember that life is drastically different at the moment.

If you’re butting heads more often than normal with certain rules, ask your spouse and kids about what they think might work better. Adapting and compromising can equal a lot less stress for everyone.

6. What’s happening is completely new and that means you may need to adjust your expectations as you learn what does and doesn’t work.

Similarly to adjusting household rules, you may also need to adjust your expectations of yourself and your family. Having expectations is key to success, but only when those expectations are realistic.

Unrealistic or very high expectations can lead to a lot of stress, frustration, and sometimes even anger. When you find yourself feeling this way due to an expectation not being met, reflect on whether or not that expectation may not be realistic at this time.

7. Mix family time in with activities that boost the immune system and also help relieve stress.

Cooking a healthy recipe is not only good for the body, but it also is a classic way of bonding with your family. Cooking and baking are also creative outlets and excellent for stress relief.

Healthy teeth and gums mean a stronger immune system. Brushing your teeth together as a family makes this routine fun and ensures your kids are using proper technique. Take turns letting each family member pick a two-minute snippet of a song. Once you’re all done brushing, you can dance off the stress to the rest of the song.

8. Allowing extra screen-time privileges isn’t just a way to keep your kids entertained, but it also offers a chance for education.

Kids spending less time on their phones, video games, and computers is very beneficial. However, right now extra screen time can not only be a useful way of keeping kids entertained while parents take care of work or other responsibilities, but it’s also an opportunity for education, creativity, and skill development.

Some great websites for kids include the following:

9. You probably won’t be able to get as much work done at home as you’re anticipating—and that is completely fine.

Working from home when you’re not accustomed to it is challenging. Throw in your spouse and kids being home and you might discover that finding the time to work uninterrupted is tougher than you thought. Rather than feel frustrated, remember that this is a new challenge that you’re still learning to cope with.

Contact your boss and let them know how you’re feeling. We bet you’ll find that they will be very understanding and together you can find a solution that works.

10. Although the circumstances may be unusual, be thankful for this extra time you get to spend with your family right now.

Your mindset is your reality. By changing your mindset to one of positivity and gratitude you and your family will come out stronger than ever. Although what’s happening is unfortunate, the good news is that this break in normalcy is giving families more time together than ever before.

Have fun with one another. Watch movies. Relax. Get crafty. Take pictures and videos. Take advantage of the good that comes from this new normal and really cherish these moments together.

Go with the flow rather than fight against the current and take each new day in stride.

Current world events have triggered a lot of uncertainty in our lives. We don’t know exactly what will happen or when, but we do know that this new normal is going to pass.

While we wait for things to normalize, the best thing to do is to go with the flow, be patient and compassionate with yourself and others, and practice presence and mindfulness on a daily basis.


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