Clinical Psychologist Shares Tips on Pandemic-Era Parenting — Exhaustion and All

Staying present in the moment -- and not stressing about the uncertain future -- is one way to tackle pandemic-era parenting, clinical psychologist Bethany Cook said

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Parents, are you feeling more exhausted than ever these days? If so, you're not alone.

Parenting in the middle of a pandemic is hard. There are more responsibilities -- and time -- at home. You may be working remotely. The concerns about the pandemic and political unrest in the U.S. are mounting.

All of this can add up quickly and be overwhelming.

NBC 7 spoke with a clinical psychologist, Bethany Cook, about ways to feel more like yourself right now -- and how to bring that into your parenting in these tough times of the pandemic.

Cook also gave insight on how parents can successfully have those difficult conversations about the state of the world with their kids so they know what's happening.

Cook suggests, first and foremost, parents try to stay in the moment. She said parents should try not to let their mind run wild about the future or the past because you can’t control them. And, as the pandemic has shown, the future remains uncertain.

Also, Cook suggests parents do something positive. This doesn't have to be a huge undertaking.

One idea, Cook said, is to draw some messages of encouragement on the sidewalk with chalk with the kids for your neighbors to see.

Also, pick up groceries or do yardwork with your kids for an elderly neighbor.

Finally some virtual socializing with other parents who are going through the same things could also be positive, Cook said. One could do this by joining a social media group that makes you feel good, like a hiking group or gardening group -- just stay away from groups touching on controversial topics.

And, when kids start asking questions about things like the pandemic or political unrest, Cook said parents could start slow, by letting kids know they are safe.

“I believe that parents have to start with letting their child know that they’re safe," Cook explained. "First and foremost, humans can’t take information in if we are functioning from the middle part of our brain to the back part of our brain; we’re in fight, flight, freeze mode."

"So, I think that parents need to let their child know that they’re safe, that they’re going to be there to protect them the best that they can," she added.

Cook also suggests parents use this moment in time to teach their kids about the history of America. This could be done by renting or buying children's books that educate kids on America's history, both the good and the bad, to help start the conversation.

Cook shares more tips on parenting on her website here.

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