Whether you have a baby, toddler or an older child, chances are that parenting is looking a lot different these days. Here are one pediatrician’s tips for moving forward.
By: Stacey Cummings, MD, pediatrician at Geisinger
Parenting during a global pandemic is the last thing many of us ever expected to do. With schools closing in the spring, activities canceled and the introduction of physical distancing — we’ve experienced a lot of change in a short amount of time. Add in the stress of keeping your family healthy, homeschooling your children and, possibly, working from home — and we’ve reached uncharted territory.
Now that stay-at-home orders are being relaxed, and we’re all working to move forward together, here are some things to remember as you continue to navigate parenthood:
Don’t stress about being perfect.
Be the best parent you can be right now — not the “perfect” parent. These are unusual times and now, more than ever, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Try to let go of the “ideal” you think you should be and instead, focus on just being there for your child. Prioritizing making your child feel heard, safe and loved right now can really go a long way.
And remember, you can’t be the best for your child if you aren’t taking very good care of yourself, so don’t forget to take time for self-care. Here are some ideas.
Handwashing is so important.
Handwashing is one of our best defenses against getting sick — and our kids can be great germ fighters! It’s important to teach your kids good hand hygiene habits (here’s a handy guide) and don’t forget to monitor their handwashing to be sure they’re washing often and well.
Stress shows itself differently in everyone.
This is especially true for kids. Accidents at night or during the daytime, changes in appetite and sleep habits, whining, demands for more hugs and clinginess are all behaviors your child might display when things don’t seem right or okay to them. Reminding your child that you’re there to protect them and showing them things they can do to help — like handwashing — can help provide the reassurance they need.
Eat well and exercise.
This is important for you and your kids. A well-balanced diet is key for maintaining energy levels and helping our immune systems stay in tip-top shape. And exercise, whether it be an at-home fitness class or a daily walk around the neighborhood, can do wonders for our bodies and minds. In fact, spending time outside has been shown to lower stress and regulate body rhythms. So, why not enjoy some quality time outside with your family?
Immunizations are important to your child’s health.
Many international and national experts are warning that herd immunity is falling, which could lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses. We don’t want to see this happen anywhere — especially not to our patients in the communities we serve. Therefore, it’s so important to keep your child’s well visits to be sure they’re up-to-date on their vaccines, that they’re developing and growing well and that their healthcare needs are being met.
Of course, if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s pediatrician. And that leads up to my last (but not least) tip:
We’re here for you and your child.
Don’t fear reaching out to or coming to see your pediatrician. We want to be a resource for you (and your children) right now. If your child is ill, has an injury or you need some suggestions on mental health resources, we’re here.
You may be wondering if it’s safe to go to a clinic or hospital. Don’t worry — protecting your (and your child’s) health is what we do best.
We’re taking extra measures to keep you and your child safe while getting the care you need, including:
- Reorganized waiting rooms, allowing everyone to practice physical (social) distancing
- Mandatory face masking, including for our staff and visitors
- COVID-19 screenings for everyone at entrances, including our care teams
- Deep cleaning all our care sites, multiple times a day
See all the extra safety measures we’re taking.
If you’ve read these tips, give yourself a high five for not only making it through really unusual times, but continuing to prioritize being the best parent you can be.