It’s safe to say that most of us did not expect to be heading towards another COVID winter, but there we have it: with the Delta variant still rampant and most children and young people still not vaccinated, this new school year is already proving challenging for many parents – possibly even more challenging than the past school year, when at least the majority of workers were staying at home and could rely on the furlough scheme. Now, with many workplaces requiring employees to go back to the office or shop floor, and with legal restrictions giving way to vague guidelines open to interpretation, parents have to deal with a huge number of factors every time they and their children step outside the front door. Here are some tips to help you keep your sanity:
Practise ‘good enough’ parenting
There is a huge amount of societal pressure on parents to always be doing the absolute best for their children: feed them only the most nutritious foods, send them to the best schools, sign them up for the best extra-curricular activities. This autumn, try to practise ‘good enough’ parenting. Are your children fed? That’s good enough. Are they meeting the main developmental milestones for their age, other factors considered? That’s good enough. With the pressure that the COVID pandemic is putting on all of us, and on parents in particular, the last thing you need is to put more pressure on yourself. Give yourself a break and recognise that you are a good enough parent.
Don’t overschedule your children
One consequence of the societal pressure on parents mentioned above is that parents who have the financial means to do so tend to fill their children’s time with endless amounts of organised activities, both after school, at the weekend and during the school holidays. As more and more settings re-open after a long period of closure, you might feel even more pressure to ‘make up for lost time’ by signing your child up to every possible activity. While it’s good to ensure that your children spend time with other kids and are suitably stimulated, don’t forget that children get plenty of structured time and opportunities to socialise and play with others during the school day. By the time they get home, your children might just need to rest, especially given that they will still be adjusting back to school life after lockdown, so watch out for these signs of overscheduling and be prepared to cut down on extracurricular activities. It will reduce your stress levels as well as theirs!
Let yourself and your children have treats
Although healthy nutrition is important, the occasional treat can work wonders at a time of heightened stress. Allow yourself and your children to have something special occasionally, such as gourmet chocolate, fast food or whatever else floats your boat.
The odd treat won’t wreck your children’s health, and it will definitely lift everyone’s mood. At the end of the day, mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health.