Parents are struggling. Parents are expressing difficulty in balancing working from home, helping kids with their school work and remote learning, taking care of their household, their own family, taking care of health and health concerns of themselves or other family members, managing perhaps financially. There's so much stress, and my first response to that is this is not normal. So we need to throw out what is normal in terms of expectations and expectations for finding balance. Parents are also expressing how they are worried about their children and other family members. And here's what we can take a look at. A couple of overlapping points. A parent's ability to manage his or her own stress is one of the most significant variables related to how kids will adjust in disasters and in other times of upheaval. Parent mental health and a parent's ability to manage their own stress is extremely related to the emotional and behavioral health of their kids. So how do you manage stress, parents? One is to let go, and this is hard. To let go of some of those expectations or balance. To let go some of those expectations for juggling. Some of the balls are gonna fall to the ground and that's okay. It's about survival. Yes, third grade math is important, more important is your mental health, your child's mental health. So how do we let go of some of those expectations? How do we manage that stress? One, set realistic expectations. What are some of the expectations for yourself, for a partner if you have one, for your children? What are realistic expectations for your child if your child is younger? Five, if your child is in middle school, if your child is in high school and they may be different, depending on the child. It may be different depending on your job or your partner's job. So setting realistic expectations, the expectations can not be the same as they were pre COVID. How do we manage stress? You know, the answer to this. We need to get good sleep. We need to find ways to exercise. We need to find ways to get into nature if we can. We need to find ways to do the things that are helpful, like mindfulness and deep breathing. One of the benefits of COVID-19 is that there is a treasure trove of material resources online for mindfulness and meditation apps, deep breathing, other healthy behaviors. So we need to find a way to manage stress by focusing on yourself and giving yourself time and permission. I know that time is extremely hard to come by these days and finding three minutes, five minutes in your day, to do a mindfulness exercise or to stretch with intention as a break that you deserve, is so important. It's not only important for yourself and managing your own stress. It's important to model for your children, that you are taking a break and you are taking care of yourself. So that's another strategy. The next strategy is to rely on your social supports. Who is your team? Who's on your team? Who do you go to when you need to talk about how stressed out you are at work or in parenting, who can you reach out to with a text? Who's gonna make you laugh if you need a laughing break. So who is on your team? Developing that list, write it down. This way, when you're feeling especially stressed out, you can reference it on your phone on a post-it note, who can you reach out to when you're struggling? The other strategy is self compassion. I've hinted at it a little bit. Self compassion, give yourself a break. Who is not on your team, who should not be on your team? Is an internal critic. You're doing the best you can. The person that you don't need on your team is someone saying that you should be doing more here, you should be doing more there. You can fire that person. You don't need that person on your team. Unnecessary, it's not helpful. So if you have an internal critic on your team, fire them. So parents, when you're struggling with stress, when you're struggling with knowing what to do, and when to do it, schedule. Try to schedule your day. As much as possible schedule with flexibility. Monday might look different than Wednesday, which might look different than Thursday, depending on the demands of your job. Depending on the demands of your child's remote learning schedule. Depending on your partner. Taking turns if you have one. So schedule. What does your schedule look like? So what are the absolute necessities of that schedule in terms of what needs to get done and what is less essential to get done. That can be cast aside. That can go in a to-get-to-later pile. It's okay to have that be a long list. So that's one part of the schedule. The other part of the schedule is are you scheduling enough breaks? Are you scheduling opportunities to do some self care for yourself, for your kids? Are you able to schedule breaks in the day for alone time? Both for your kids and yourself, obviously, depending on the age of your children. Scheduling time to decompress to have some alone time. It doesn't need to be a lot of time, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Creating that and putting that in the schedule. So on Tuesday from four to 4:15, that we all get alone time. Everyone gets to go to their own corners of the apartment or of the house and get some alone time. And then something else that is important in a family, if you can include it in your schedule, is family stress release time. Can you schedule the same time every night where you come together, either with your partner or your family all at once, and you do a group, a collective coping exercise. And different members of the family can choose what the exercise is. It can be deep breathing, it can be dancing. It can be having a silly-off. You can make up the rules. The important part is that you create it and you try to include it in your schedule every day. So that's a time for folks to come together and practice and do so in a way that's hopefully fun and creative. This way you can teach your children about managing stress as well.