Disclaimer :: My Health My Resources Tarrant County sponsored and wrote this article to share about its many services to parents in North Texas.
In today’s environment, stress is more prevalent than ever. With the current pandemic, parents and children are spending more time at home without the freedoms of a more social environment outside the home. This has caused a number of concerns for both the parents and the children. The number of child abuse cases has risen. The number of suicides has risen. Both of these are direct results of the lack of social interaction outside the home.
The stress on parents in the home due to COVID has been tremendous. From worrying about remote learning, finding care for their children while they continue to work, or being able to work if they or a family member become infected, stressors have proven costly on their mental health and overall wellness.
The same story is similar with children, time not being spent in needed social environments with friends or at school has proven to put a strain on the emotional wellness, no matter the age.
What You Are Feeling Is Normal
Many parents are juggling many jobs during this pandemic. No one signed up to be a full-time employee, a full-time nurse, and now a full-time teacher’s aid. It’s hard for every parent.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in your struggle. COVID-19 is a shared experience. No one is not touched by it. You are not a “bad” parent if you experience stress or worry about you, your family, or your child. All parents are feeling that way right now.
Want proof? Spend needed time talking with other parents. Look for any opportunity to do so whether it’s a PTA Zoom meeting, reading your neighborhood blog, or talking to your school about ways to connect. It’s important to know you are not alone and that everything you are feeling is understandable and normal
Your Health Is Your Greatest Warrior
Unfortunately, one of our greatest weapons against stress is often the first thing we set aside. More than ever, it is important to pay attention to three things:
- Sleep — make sure you get seven to nine hours for adults. Keep a sleep routine. It’s important for kids, but imperative for parents right now)
- Movement — even if you exercise during the day, you are still moving less than before COVID tripped into your life, so take every opportunity to move. Stand while you talk on the phone and take quick stretch breaks during the day
- Nutrition — your refrigerator and snack cupboard are more accessible than ever, so make it is stocked with nutritious foods and keep the refined sugar and other temptations to a minimum.
Take Back Control Where You Can
One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic is the feeling that we lack control over things that we used to do without thinking. Going to the grocery store, running errands, dropping kids off at daycare, or coordinating playdates have halted, making so many feel as though they don’t have any control over their day-to-day family operations.
This too, is normal and can lead to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety. Rather than focus on things you can’t control right now (like making COVID disappear), consciously look at those things you can. Make a list of those things you can’t control and give yourself permission to “put those in a drawer” and not focus on them. Instead, strategize ways to take back some of the things you can control. An example might be the way your family spends time together or the kind of meals to fix at home. It might mean finding creative ways to connect safely with friends or finding new things to celebrate.
“We all thrive from being well connected and in relationships with one another and our children are no different,” said Laura Kender, chief of early childhood services at My Health My Resources of Tarrant County.
My Health My Resources (MHMR) of Tarrant County has been working tirelessly to assist parents and children in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early Childhood Services (ECS) of MHMR has continued to offer a number of resources for parents, including virtual parenting groups. This has been a good outlet for parents dealing with similar concerns during this time.
With the additional time at home caring for children, MHMR is doing its best to keep parents informed and able to work through the challenges being faced. Parents are able to reach out to ECS for help with their children ages zero to six by calling 844-NTX-KIDS (844-689-5437). The ECS team is available to help answer questions about concerns you may have regarding your child.
MHMR also has a 24-hour helpline available for area residents with other concerns or questions regarding their mental health or that of loved ones. By calling the ICARE line at 817-335-3022, residents are connected with community resources to best fit their needs. As part of a statewide initiative, Texans Recovering Together, they can also access free, short-term crisis counseling for themselves or groups.
The ICARE line is available via text or phone call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
September was National Suicide Awareness month. MHMR used the opportunity build awareness of the ICARE line for parents or anyone facing challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a time that requires all of us to be more mindful of our own mental health and of others around us Knowing when to ask for help or letting others know you need to talk is key.
We are all in this together. And we will all recover together.
Visit Help Me Grow North Texas for helpful parenting tips for you and your child.
Laura Kender, chief of early childhood services at My Health My Resources of Tarrant County, oversees the largest Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program in the State of Texas, as well as the Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support’s (HOPES) program. She is recognized for her work with Help Me Grow North Texas, a new initiative that connects families with children 0-6 to community resources and services.
My Health My Resources (MHMR) has been a provider of quality mental health and intellectual and developmental disability services in Tarrant County since its inception in 1969. It is the second-largest community center in Texas, offering services in mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, substance use, early childhood intervention, criminal justice system support, homelessness, and veterans. All of these services are provided in collaboration with our community partners in the public and private sector. MHMR is one of 39 community centers in Texas. Follow MHMR on Facebook and Instagram.