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Parenting Tips During a Pandemic 

The pandemic has influenced parents in so many ways—from changing day-to-day routines, to balancing e-learning with meetings, even changing the way parents can interact with their adult children. PAR parents share how they are coping with the challenges they have encountered over the last few months and share insight and tips on what has been working for them and those they know.

Carrie C. Morera, PhD—Project Director: One of the ways we practice self-care as a family includes exercising. Each morning, my husband, two elementary school-age daughters, and dog start our day by taking a mile walk together around the neighborhood. This exercise allows us to connect with each other, appreciate nature, and prepare for the day.

Darla DeCarlo, LMHC, PsyS—Regional Manager–Educational Assessments

Friends of mine are parents of a young child with autism. Although this comes with its challenges on a day-to-day basis, most recently they have voiced their distress and anxiety over the fact that the grocery stores seem to be out of the food choices that their child will eat. As other parents of children with autism know, food choices can be a major stressor for these children. Add to that the fact that normal routines are disrupted. They ended up seeking support from their neighbors, who were more than willing to help my friends by looking for certain food items for them when they were attempting a grocery run or even when they were ordering food to be delivered. My friends could not believe how supportive their neighbors have been and this has become one less thing for them to worry about.

PAR, Inc. Staff Contribution

June 17, 2020

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Sierra Iwanicki, PhD—Project Director

As a parent of three children (ages 7, 3, and 10 months), we have tried to implement limited structure centered around activities, yet allow for flexibility regarding times, intensity, or duration. For example, some mornings we have an hour of outdoor time, while other times it is 15 minutes in the evening. Personally, I try to practice mindfulness throughout the day by savoring as many mindful moments as I can, including mindful breathing, watching the sunrise, etc. Honestly, there’s nothing anyone can say to make this easy and it’s not always pretty. We are doing it, but we have to prioritize. We realize we cannot do it all and that’s perfectly okay.

The Parent Vault Facebook group has been an amazing resource. Quarantine Resources for Kids is another helpful Facebook group. I use this livestream calendar to keep track of different videos, this guide for zoos and aquariums, and this list from Smithsonian Magazine to keep track of available education content

David Houser—Director of Sales

I have two kidsone who is finishing her junior year of high school and one who just finished his freshman year of college. I use the same parenting tip for both as there is really not that much difference between the two. The most important thing I try to focus on in this stage is that they both want to do things for themselves. They really do not want my opinion on anything, and if it is given, they will remind me of that, sometimes forcefully. That said, they still need guidance, but it must be their idea.  When I see them struggling, and they both do at times, I try extra hard to let them work things out. I find they often will come to me after trying what they know. Even then, I try to ask them if they want my input on how to fix it. It is a parent’s default setting to try to fix our kids problems, but this stage requires more patience and trust that the lessons learned from 18 years in our house have equipped them to work things out on their own. They both have let me know that they appreciate the extra space and they both are growing into confident and capable young adults. 

I also think this article on how to approach returning college students from Psychology Today covers some additional helpful topics.

Genevieve Graham, MBA—InVista Account Executive

Being 33 weeks pregnant and home with a 2.5-year-old has been a juggling act. Luckily, everyone from clients to coworkers have been so kind and understanding with the interruptions and requests. I’ve been able to schedule pertinent meetings during my little one’s naptime. I have made it a very important part of our day to take several walks. Discovering nature, biking more as a family, and lots of swimming ensure I get out and move, clear my mind, and burn a little toddler energy. My nighttime routine has also been adjusted to catch up on items that need more focus and quiet, but I also include time for self-care.

Tamara Dwoskin, MA—Customer Relationship Manager

The biggest challenge for me during the pandemic has been making sure my kids stay engaged in learning and helping the whole family identify and create fun activities to look forward to while in quarantine.

It is a little more challenging for my youngest son who has ASD. Schedules are very important to maintaining his sense of calm. This whole disruption to normal life has hit him the hardest. We are lucky that his school and his teachers have been super supportive. The Google Classroom platform that they are using has been particularly helpful keeping his work on track, but keeping him engaged in schoolwork takes persistent effort. He is also not a big fan of teleconferencing and seeing his teachers/therapists/friends on video; he thinks it’s weird, which let’s face it, it is for all of us.

Normal routines are out the window, but we are creating new ones. Keeping busy is key. One strategy we are employing as a family is the “one thing to look forward to a day” (called the OTTLFTAD schedule in our house), where each person identifies at least one thing they want to do each day that will make them happy and we schedule it to make sure it happens.

For other parents of special needs kids, we have found the following resources and articles helpful:

The New ASD “At Home” World: 10 Ways to Cope With Changes During COVID-19

COVID-19: Delivering Special Needs Services At Home 

Helping Families With Special Needs During a Public Health Crisis

Eight Tips for Working From Home With Kids During COVID-19

COVID-19: Information for Families of Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs