The Life of Parents in the New Normal

Published on: November 11, 2021

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, medical services specialist Devi Bajaj brings us an interview with mental health coach Bharati with thoughts and tips on parenting during this time.

By Devi Bajaj

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

After I completed my degree in Finance and Banking, my love for learning led me to the field of qualitative research, where I worked for a decade. When I was expecting my firstborn, I transitioned to the role of stay-at-home mom. During that time, I learned about the coaching industry and instantly became fascinated with positive psychology coaching. Six years on, I am an ICF Certified Positive Psychology Coach and a Certified Positive Educator. I am also blessed to be the mom of two children, now aged twelve and four.

What is your definition of the new normal for parenthood?

Parenthood has always been about raising children to be good humans as well as the best versions of themselves. In essence, this remains the same. What has changed in this new normal is the additional roles and responsibilities parents have been required to take on. Alongside spending more time with their children in a parental role, many are also homeschooling and being IT technicians, friends, troubleshooters, counselors, and mentors to name but a few!

What are the most challenging tasks for parents of young children during this period?

Children are losing out on social interaction with peers through schooling, playdates, and at celebrations such as birthdays that they once took for granted. This creates feelings of loneliness, sadness, despair, anxiety, and frustration, and takes a toll on their mental, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. All of this commands parents to step in as friends, counselors, or mentors in helping children navigate their emotions and thoughts.

Raising physically healthy children is another major challenge. Physical activity and movement are paramount to children’s wellbeing, but with more time being spent indoors, this can be met with resistance. As a result, parents can find themselves having to motivate and sometimes bribe children to be physically active. Good physical health also involves eating healthy, balanced meals. Parents need to master the intricate dance of providing meals that are both nutritious and appetizing for their children.

Parents, as individuals, also have their own set of worries. Between creating a balance between their personal and professional lives, planning and handling finances, and being involved in the wellbeing of friends and family, they have had to become masters in juggling and multitasking. As a result, many are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety themselves.

How can we as parents help our children navigate the situation? 

Firstly, I would suggest supporting your child in whatever way they need at that moment. Be open-minded and flexible in taking on roles that they may require, such as a listener, confidant, or mentor. 

Creating a routine can also help immensely. A schedule with some structured time and some free time can minimize overwhelm for both you and your children. 

Building in some regular time outdoors will benefit the physical and mental wellbeing of the whole family. When going outdoors, wear your mask, maintain social distancing, and make sure you sanitize your hands appropriately. Plan your day so you can avoid locations with heavy footfall. Social bubbles can also be a fun way to spend your time. Aim to keep the group small to minimize any risks.   

It’s also important for us to assist our children in building resilience, so that they can bounce back from adversities. Encouraging open and honest conversation is beneficial, even if it means acknowledging that you are feeling vulnerable or anxious. Maintain a connection by listening to their concerns and making sure they feel heard and validated. This also helps create a sense of belonging. 

What suggestions do you have for how we can help ourselves? 

During this time of uncertainty, many parents find themselves worried even if they don’t have a predisposition to anxiety. Me-time is not a luxury but essential for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Set aside alone time to replenish your cup. Fundamentally, this should be a safe space for you to turn down parent-mode and mindfully do something therapeutic or relaxing. It could be baking, reading, gardening, working out, or enjoying a virtual meet-up with friends or family—the list is endless. Caring for others can be hard when your battery is running low, so do take the time to recharge. 

Parenting during this pandemic can feel relentless. We have to remind ourselves to operate from a full cup, and to fill as we pour to ensure we have the bandwidth we need to fulfill our additional roles and responsibilities. These are unprecedented times and there is no manual to help us navigate them. Be compassionate with yourself, and try to eliminate beating yourself up if something doesn’t go the way you want it to. If you find yourself struggling with something, reach out. Chances are that you are not the only one going through it. In standing together and supporting each other, we will see this pandemic through and come out of it more resilient. 

Photos from Canva.

About the Author

Devi runs Enliven Health Concierge, a service to support expat families in navigating the healthcare system in Bangkok. If you need assistance finding the right doctor and/or making a medical appointment, contact them their mission is to help you!

Website: www.enlivenyou.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/enlivenconcierge
Instagram and LINE handles: @enlivenconcierge
Phone: 095-665-6966. 


The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects. BAMBI welcomes volunteer contributors to our magazine. Please contact editor@bambiweb.org.

 

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