Parenting on Pause

We ask a lot of parents every day- especially during a pandemic. Suddenly, you are parents, teachers, maybe working from home, maybe caring for a sick family member.. it can be difficult to take thirty seconds, let alone five minutes, for yourself.

At EPIC, we know parents are heroes. We also know that you need to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others, so that's why we're assembling quick, simple self-care tips that parents can use anytime, and especially in the midst of Covid-19. 

So take a deep breath, reheat that coffee and relax. We see you and we support you. 

 

 A Message for Parents from Elmo's Dad

 

 How to Find that Five Minutes to Yourself

Lana Shapiro is a Holistic Mental Health Counselor, and she's also a mom, so she understands the pressures put on parents today. "There is so much focus on how parents can help their children through the pandemic," she says, "about how to share with them what's happening while also keeping their fears at bay. That's so important, and at the same time, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It is so important that parents  take care of themselves, and first and foremost that means identifying what self-care means to them." 

So what exactly is self-care? According to Shapiro, it doesn't have to involve money, leaving your house or long stretches of time. "It's about changing your mindset about what truly restores you and brings you peace," she says. "There's no perfect time, or perfect way- it's trial and error."

And to the parents who say they can't possibly take the time or means to focus on themselves?

"You need to focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do," says Shapiro. "Be mindful of the time you do have, not the time you don't. There may be more in your control than you think- find those little pockets of time and make a commitment to yourself. Maybe it is two minutes, maybe it is five- maybe that unicorn moment happens when it is longer!"

So once parents find that elusive five minutes- what can they do with it?

"Let go of any sort of judgement or expectation around what it has to look like, or should look like," says Shapiro. "Maybe it is just enjoying five minutes of silence. Maybe it is journaling, maybe physical movement, maybe drinking your coffee while it is still hot. It's little things that allow you to slow down, for just a moment."

If you've been curious about meditation, there's no time like the present to start! Shapiro encourages parents to take their five minutes just to sit and focus on their breath. "You can't expect to clear your mind right out the gate," she says. "That's why it's called a practice. But it is tuning in and being present in your mind and body."

Starting at the most basic of mindfulness practices, Shapiro offers the 4-7-9 breath as a starting point: inhaling through the mouth for four counts, holding it for seven and exhaling for eight. "Set a timer for three or so minutes," she says, "and just see how it makes you feel." She also recommends apps like Headspace or Calm, that are currently free to New Yorkers. 

 

     Undo Your Desk: Stretches and Positive Self-Talk

Liz takes you through a short series of movements that you can do every day- or even every hour- to show your body some kindness and "undo your desk."

"Chances are, right now, you're not moving, feeding or even dressing your body the way it's used to. First of all- that's okay," she says. "This is a pandemic, not a productivity contest, and just getting through each day can sometimes feel like all your body can handle. However, changes in routine are often met with impatience, judgement and negative self-talk. Think about how you've spoken to yourself lately, and give both you and your body permission to just be in the skin you're in right now. 

We are going through a collective traumatic experience, and your body is smart. I like to joke that your gut is your first brain, because it's often where we viscerally know things. But new aches and pains that may be cropping up, like jaw tightness or bloat or other physical symptoms, are your body's way of physically manifesting the stress you're under." 

So move through these stretches, take a deep breath and give yourself some gratitude and grace. You're doing a great job. 

 

     The Winner's Meditation

Cory is a Buffalo-based yoga teacher that has specialized knowledge of trauma-informed practice. He leads us through his "Winner's Meditation", where we dedicate our breath and our thoughts to those that are struggling with both. 

 

    Navigating Isolation

At this point in the pandemic, isolation may seem more overwhelming. Adrienne, a licensed social worker and EPIC program coordinator, helps normalize the anxiety that so many are experiencing, as well as offering different tools to combat loneliness. 

 

    Setting Boundaries

Nobody can be "on" all the time, and you can't pour from an empty cup. In this clip, Adrienne discusses how to have boundary conversations with children of varying ages, so they have a better understanding of what's happening and you can enjoy a few moments to yourself- without guilt. 

 

Dear Parents, you're not doing it wrong. It's just that hard.  : an article to remind you. 

 

Other Helpful Links:

Working from Home

Avoiding Burnout 

Juggling Working From Home with Raising (and Now Teaching) Kids

Your Feel-Good Five Minutes: Local Acts of Kindness

You're Not Alone 

An Honest Look at Working From Home

The Science of Toxic Stress