Parenting In A Pandemic: Tips For How To Survive

Published: Monday, April 6, 2020 - 5:57pm
Updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 7:59am

Parenting is a tough job in the best of circumstances. But parenting in a pandemic? It can be overwhelming and exhausting. 

Just ask KJZZ's Kathy Ritchie, who wrote this story in between homeschooling her own child.


So what’s the first rule when parenting in a pandemic? There are no rules, really — like take screen time, for example. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to one hour a day for children between the ages of 2 and 5.  

But these are extenuating circumstances, says Krista Puruhito who is a lecturer at the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. And these days, giving a child a device might be the only way a parent can get work done or the only way a child can see their friends.

"My 5-year-old daughter did have a playdate via FaceTime the other day, and it was a very great experience. It allowed her to have that connection with somebody but still maintain a safe distance from them," Puruhito said. 

She says they ate lunch together, colored and played with toys — over a screen. 

Maybe it’s not ideal, but it’s also important to lower our expectations, says Ashley Frasier, a doctoral student in the Family and Human Development Program at ASU.

She also says changes in behavior could be a child’s way of communicating.

"And so they may not be able to say things like, 'hey, mom, I'm really stressed out,' or 'hey, mom, I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow,'" Frasier said. 

Puruhito suggests using a visual schedule and talking about what the day is going to look like each morning. 

Other Tips

  • Box up some of your child's toys, put them away, then bring out a new box each week. "So instead of just being overwhelmed with choice, and having too much to play with, there's something new that you can bring out," Puruhito said.
  • Behavior is a mode of communication for everyone and especially for children. It's important to try and take a step back and see that your child might be trying to tell you something.
  • Take "brain breaks," practice mindfulness or yoga.
  • Use a visual schedule and talk about what the day is going to be like. Puruhito tells her children that the next day is "going to be the same, but different." She says it helps promote cognitive flexibility and helps them prepare emotionally for the next day, so that there's less less anxiety when they wake up in the morning.
  • Frasier says to remember that this is going to be a hard time, and to recognize that it's okay not to feel OK right now.
  • Lower your expectations and don't compare yourself to other families.

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