Parenting: Managing Both Personal and Family COVID-19 Stress

How can parents manage both their stress and the stress inflicted on their families by COVID-19? Montefiore's Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Dr. Sandra Pimentel, shares techniques to help cope and manage stress in these unprecedented times.

Dr. Sandra Pimentel, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychology, discussing how to manage personal and family stress during COVID-19.
Transcript

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.

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What to Know


COVID-19: Basics

Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains what COVID-19 is, how it spreads and who is at risk. 

This video reflects the latest information available.

Wondering how to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting COVID-19? Learn prevention methods from Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Fever, sore throat, shortness of breath? Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist at Montefiore, explains.

When and how should you seek medical care? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains care at home, when to go to a hospital and testing. 

This video reflects the latest information available.

Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, shares important steps to take if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as information on research and clinical trials for potential treatments Montefiore-Einstein is conducting. 

This video reflects the latest information available.

Social Distancing

How can you stay safe in and around your home? Montefiore’s Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist Dr. Theresa Madaline explains how to get in and out of your building safely and how to practice safe social distancing if you must leave home.

Is it ok to be outside? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, discusses going outside, how to exercise safely, and whether passing runners or dogs can transmit COVID-19.

How can essential workers stay safe? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains how essential workers can protect themselves at their job and take public transport safely.

Can one person make an impact? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains how social distancing works and how you can make an impact.

Protection

How should you wash your hands? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains how to wash your hands and how often.

What’s the best way to keep your home safe? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, shows how to keep your home protected and how to safely handle food and deliveries.

How do you get groceries safely? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, discusses how to shop safely for groceries.

Family Care

What if a family member gets COVID-19? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains what to do if someone in your home gets sick.

What if a parent gets COVID-19? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, discusses what parents or single parents should do if they get sick.

Can you get reinfected with COVID-19? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains what is currently known about COVID-19 immunity and the possibility of reinfection.

How do you care for an older family member who’s home alone? Montefiore’s Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains how to safely care for elderly family members during COVID-19.

Are there any extra precautions pregnant women should take regarding COVID-19? Montefiore's Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, shares ways expectant mothers can keep themselves and their unborn babies safe.

Physical Recovery

How long is a person with COVID-19 contagious? Montefiore's Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, shares the latest information on how to protect others.

Can I get re-infected with COVID-19? Montefiore's Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, shares the most current information about COVID-19 immunity and the possibility of re-infection.

What does it mean if my COVID-19 symptoms return, and what should I do? Montefiore's Dr. Theresa Madaline, Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist, explains what it means if symptoms return and what to do.

 

Mental Health and Coping


Mental Health Myths

Is it normal to think about COVID-19 all the time? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, discusses why it's normal and whether to seek help.

Why am I always anxious? Do I have COVID-19? Will I lose my job? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains how part of our brain works to keep us safe from something that could go wrong, and where and when to seek help for COVID-19 anxiety.

Why can’t I deal with my COVID-19 feelings on my own? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains why it’s not weak to ask for help and why you might need assistance coping with COVID-19.

I’m supposed to be providing COVID-19 help, not asking for it. Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, discusses why healthcare workers should ask for and receive COVID-19 help.

Will people judge me for seeking help for my fears and anxieties about COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains ways to overcome concerns about being judged, and why seeking support to cope during this time is perfectly fine and necessary.

I'm just too busy with family and work. How can I find time for my COVID-19 feelings? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains why finding time is important for our self-care, and recommends small things we can do to talk about our COVID-19 feelings that can fit into a busy schedule.

How can a therapist help me cope with COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains the tools a therapist can provide to help you handle COVID-19, what happens in a session and what to talk about.

I’ve had therapy, and I’m not sure how it can help with COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains what COVID-19 treatment looks like and which approach might work best. 

COVID-19 and Relationships

How can I best stay home with a partner? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, discusses ways to work through the challenges of staying home with another person, as well as things to work on together.

How can I best stay home alone? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, shares tools and techniques to help single people stay home, which can help with social isolation.

How do I juggle work, life and COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, discusses ways to maintain focus and a healthy work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and Managing Feelings

How do I manage my feelings of anger toward COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, discusses why it's normal to have strong feelings about COVID-19, how to recognize triggers and things we can do to manage anger.

How do I deal with feeling lonely in isolation? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, discusses managing feelings of isolation during COVID-19, and how to seek help.

How do I deal with my anxiety about finances affected by COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains how to manage financial fears during the crisis.

How can I manage addictive behaviors during COVID-19? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains how to avoid negative coping methods during the crisis.

How do I deal with the human toll from COVID-19 and the impact on life as we know it? Montefiore’s Chief Psychologist, Dr. Simon Rego, explains how to cope with the loss of normalcy and changes in our lives as a result of the crisis.

Anxiety Busters

Taking a deep breath can help reduce anxiety. Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Paul Bulman, demonstrates ways to breathe better when feeling anxious about COVID-19.

Balancing negative thinking with positivity can help reduce anxiety about COVID-19. Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Paul Bulman, shows how making a gratitude list can spark positive thinking.

Focusing on the moment can help reduce COVID-19 anxiety. Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Paul Bulman, shares techniques for staying present during this difficult time.

Negative thoughts can create more anxiety. Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Paul Bulman, provides techniques to combat negative thinking during the COVID-19 crisis, including knowing the triggers and the 3 questions to ask.

Getting a good night's sleep can help combat anxiety caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Paul Bulman, provides techniques for sleeping better during the pandemic.

Keeping your body active is a great way to relieve anxiety and can boost your immune system. Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Paul Bulman, provides ways to work in regular exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic for physical and mental health.

Essential Workers and COVID-19

Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Dana Crawford, explains how essential workers and their families can handle concerns arising from COVID-19 work.

Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Dana Crawford, explains how the family and close friends of essential workers can navigate concerns arising from their loved ones’ COVID-19 work.

As an essential worker, how can I best handle conversations about COVID-19 with my loved ones? Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Dana Crawford gives essential workers tips on how to have conversations about COVID-19 with loved ones.

If my loved one is an essential worker, how can I best handle sharing my concerns about COVID-19? Montefiore’s Supervising Psychologist and Director of the Trauma-Informed Care Program, Dr. Dana Crawford offers advice on how to communicate about COVID-19 with loved ones who are essential workers.

Surviving COVID-19

What's it like to survive COVID-19? Montefiore’s Dr. Miguelina Germán, Psychologist and Director of Pediatric Behavioral Health Services, shares her personal experience with COVID-19. She talks about quarantining with her family in a two-bedroom apartment, coping with her fiancé contracting COVID-19, asking friends for help and emotionally working through her diagnosis. She also offers advice based on what she learned during this experience.

What happens after recovering from COVID-19? Montefiore’s Dr. Miguelina Germán, Psychologist and Director of Pediatric Behavioral Health Services, shares her personal experience after recovering from COVID-19, and what she learned about symptoms coming back and the importance of self-care after recovery.

Who to tell about your positive COVID-19 diagnosis and when? Montefiore’s Dr. Miguelina Germán, Psychologist and Director of Pediatric Behavioral Health Services, discusses life living with COVID-19, how she decided which family and friends to contact and when was the right time to tell them about her positive diagnosis.

Parenting During COVID-19

How can parents talk about what's happening as a result of COVID-19 with kids of all ages? Montefiore's Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Dr. Sandra Pimentel, discusses how to help kids understand COVID-19 using techniques to encourage talking about their feelings resulting from the life changes and uncertainty they're experiencing because of the pandemic, and how parents can model coping methods to help kids make more sense of their world.

How can I help a teenager cope with the life changes and risks caused by COVID-19? Montefiore's Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Dr. Sandra Pimentel, discusses ways to help teens cope with uncertainty and loss due to COVID-19, as well as taking the risks of contracting or spreading the virus seriously.

How can parents manage both their stress and the stress inflicted on their families by COVID-19? Montefiore's Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Dr. Sandra Pimentel, shares techniques to help cope and manage stress in these unprecedented times.

What are red flags I should look for to know if my child needs help? Dr. Sandra Pimentel, Montefiore’s Chief Child and Adolescent Psychologist, shares advice for parents of children struggling during COVID-19 and explains what therapy looks like for children, including virtual health options.

Trusted Information Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The leading national public health institute of the United States
 

NY.gov

For the latest COVID-19 guidelines and information from New York State 

World Health Organization

UN agency responsible for international public health