Parenting in the Pandemic
Because of the pandemic, Shelby County Schools students and families have been participating in 100 percent virtual learning since classes resumed on August 31, 2020. For many parents, this drastic change has led to high levels of anxiety — even panic — because of the life-changing decisions they have to make as they struggle to balance all of the demands that this new reality has required:
- Keeping themselves and their families COVID free
- Continuing to remain employed or trying to find work if unemployed
- Ensuring that their children are connected not just to the internet for virtual learning but to opportunities for fostering their social-emotional health
All of this can make it incredibly difficult for parents to maintain a positive, nurturing connection with their children. And when families are in tumult, the danger that children will suffer from traumas like neglect, abuse, and witnessing family violence is very real, and increases with each new burden.
ACE Awareness Foundation wanted to help.
We understood that:
– Parents need opportunities to talk, de-stress, and practice self-care so they are able to take care of their children’s emotional needs as well as their own.
– It is important for parents to receive the support and guidance they need to help their children, who are also feeling stress and uncertainty.
– Activities that decrease parents’ feelings of isolation as well as those that promote parent-child bonding are especially important because they help ease the anxiety of both adults and children.
Call to Action
Based on our understanding of the need to address the challenges that families are facing as the result of COVID-19, the ACE Awareness Foundation received funding from the Shelby County Commission via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to conduct Parenting in the Pandemic: Tools for Surviving and Thriving.
From October through December 30, 2020, ACE Awareness foundation:
1. Delivered online programming for parents focused on dealing with the stress created by COVID-19 and ways to cope.
2. Delivered online programming to Shelby County Schools staff (i.e., administrators and teachers) that provides information on ACEs, the stress and mental health damage resulting from COVID-19, and strategies for supporting students, families, and staff.
3. Conducted a communications campaign designed to de-stigmatize seeking mental health support that is focused on messages about the impact of COVID-19 on families and the availability of support.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
All of us have the ability to achieve mindfulness. However, practicing mindfulness can be difficult when so much is happening around us and we become engrossed in thoughts that keep us from focusing on the here and now.
Still, it’s possible to achieve mindfulness; it’s just a matter of learning how to access it. Doing so doesn’t require us to change who we are; we just have to work at cultivating the best of who we are.
Mindfulness brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it can help us cut down on the stress we often feel, making our lives and the lives of those around us better.
In addition to the online programming provided by Parenting in the Pandemic, the following series of brief videos—Mindfulness Moments—have been created to remind us to take time to pay attention to where we are, what’s going on, and what we can do to become more aware of our body, our thoughts, and our actions in order to lead less stressful lives during a time when it’s challenging to do so.