Recharging your superpowers: Parenting in a pandemic

This article was recently featured in the Republican's Better Health section.

When was the last time you took time for yourself? Was it meaningful and pleasurable for you? Were you worried or pressured?

The parent-child relationship brings many challenges, even more so in a pandemic. Parenting is a continuous learning process that involves caring and helping children grow and healthy develop as a unique individual, to live in society. The time and energy devoted to this task, leaves parents with little time to take care of themselves. Is like being on an emotional roller-coaster of, with a new journey every day with mixed results. This may be hard at times, more so when we have high expectations. This may be a good opportunity to nurture yourself, recharge your superpowers and restock to continue giving your best.

It is possible to live a meaningful life and taking time for yourself, depending on your experiences, and expectations. It is certainly hard to keep an adequate sleep, exercising, eating healthy, have friends, while being on top of everything. That would be cool right? Like having superpowers! However, many times it is just not possible. As I said before, parenting may be hard. Being aware of your emotions and needs, while normalizing not meeting every single goal is a good place to start.

Instead use self-criticism, Self-compassion is a strategy to handle our struggles and challenges with kindness, being more supportive and present with ourselves and our relationships. According to pioneering self-compassion researcher, Dr. Kristin Neff, it involves being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel uncomfortable. It is also a way to be kind to ourselves, by the means of self-care. Building on self-compassion takes time and requires practice. Here is a few tips to recharge your superpowers and while being compassionate to yourself.

Golden Rule: Treat yourself as you might treat your friend or another parent. Many parents tend to be compassionate with other parents, giving kind advice and normalizing their experience.

  1. Take a pause. Be aware of your feelings and thoughts: Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to feel and ponder about how you are receiving your feelings and thoughts.
  2. Be kind and compassionate with yourself: What would be your advice and encouraging words to a friend or relative living a similar situation? Remember, you are trying your best and doing as much as you can.
  3. Appreciate the little details: Move towards gratitude, focus on things you can control and your strengths as a parent. You may not be perfect, try to enjoy your imperfection.

You can try these…

  • Write something you feel grateful about.
  • Go for a walk and find something beautiful. Enjoy your surroundings.
  • Say something nice to someone.
  • Tell yourself something you appreciate of yourself.
  • Think about your favorite memory of your kid, family, or yourself.
  • Think of 2 great things about you and your child.
  • Take 2 minutes to breathe. Be aware of how breathing can relieve you.

Self-compassion might be challenging at first. If you notice that you may need more support, it is always a good idea to seek assistance from a mental health provider. 

Elizabeth Maldonado-Diaz, MS.

Is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Carlos Albizu University, San Juan PR Campus. She is currently working as an Outpatient Clinician and is part of the Trauma Program in School Street Counseling Institute (SSCI), part of Behavioral Health Network, Inc (BHN). She provides services of individual therapy, clinical assessments, case and family consultations, and case presentations to children and adults with mental and medical diagnosis.