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Healthy Ways for Stressed Parents to Cope During the Pandemic

February 26,2021

By Linda Robinson

There’s a reason why flight attendants tell you to put on your own mask first before helping someone else. After all, you can’t help others when you don’t have enough air yourself! This may sound like a strange analogy, but parenting a child with autism is the same way. You can’t be a good parent if your own needs aren’t met. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially during a pandemic, when you’re working from home, kids are home, and everyone’s routines are out of whack. If you’re feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, here are some ideas to make your own care a priority while still supporting your child.

It’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits when you’re stressed to the max. Here are a few ideas to de-stress in a healthier way.

  • Schedule your own self-care time and enlist the help of a partner or friend for childcare.
  • Connect with your support system through virtual happy hours, complete with delicious non-alcoholic cocktails.
  • They say laughter is the best medicine, so try beating stress by tuning into a funny TV show or comedy on Netflix.
  • If you find yourself stress-eating, try these healthy snacks as a nutritious alternative to junk food.
  • Find creative solutions for fitting in exercise, like working out first thing in the morning.
  • Or get your kids involved and exercise together as a family.
  • If you’re falling into unhealthy habits that are hard to break, try replacing them with a new hobby.

Like adults, children are feeling a little more anxious these days, too. Your whole family will feel better when you have tools to help calm your child’s fears and insecurities.

  • Create a new schedule for your child using pictures to communicate activities.
  • As part of your new routine, don’t forget about the importance of good nutrition, for both yourself and your child!
  • Listen to your child’s fears and demonstrate how you’re coping with similar feelings.
  • Many children with autism benefit from breathing exercises and yoga as a way to find calm.

While calming your child’s fears, don’t forget to have some fun together, too!

  • Explore ideas for autism-friendly games and activities that you can do at home.
  • Try a new hobby that you and your child can enjoy together.
  • Give your child the benefit of nature by creating a backyard space that’s sensory-friendly.
  • If your community has started reopening, look into whether your local We Rock the Spectrum gym is open so you can get out of the house in a safe environment.

As more places start to reopen, hopefully, more families can find some relief from the stress of being stuck at home. In the meantime, don’t wait to try these ideas for making your home life less overwhelming. You and your child will feel better, and cope better, when you make these healthy habits part of your new normal.

Photo credit: Pexels