Mother’s Day is just around the corner, but many moms are stressed under quarantine.
We caught up with Jo Frost of the Lifetime series “Supernanny” for parenting advice.
“There certainly was a big panic [in March] with an influx of emails and families reaching out concerned,” Frost told WTOP. “Those conversations were first and foremost [about] having an age appropriate conversation surrounding COVID-19. … We were all trying to adjust to what the new norm would be right now and the frightening circumstances.”
Several weeks into the pandemic, Frost wants parents to focus on what they can control.
“[I want] to give parents permission to let go of what they can’t control or stop feeling the need to be perfect in a time when showing up and doing your best is enough,” Frost said.
She suggests starting the day by vocalizing what you’re thankful for.
“We do ‘gratitudes’ in the morning,” Frost said. “We all hold hands together at breakfast and we say, ‘What are we thankful for today?’ It’s been very helpful to stay focused on the positives, so that your mind doesn’t run away with negative thoughts about tomorrow.”
She said she gives the same advice to parents of newborns.
“They become very overwhelmed like, ‘What am I going to do when the child is 4?’ And I’m like, ‘Just stay present in the moment with your newborn,'” Frost said. “Just stay present every day and take every day as it comes. … I ask families to take one day at a time.”
She also said it’s important to set goals, however small.
“A couple of pajama days is great, but we do want to wake up with purpose and intention,” Frost said. “Wake up, make your bed and start the day with intention. Otherwise, we can start to go into slumber, start to feel demotivated and start to get very lazy. I want families not to feel sluggish mentality, because that can lead to other downward spiral behavior.”
No matter what’s going on outside, a household routine is crucial.
“Keep the cornerstones in place like meal times and the education in the morning, then to be able to look at recreational stuff that you can do online and playing games,” Frost said. “Not to minimize what’s happening in the world, because it’s catastrophic, but there are silver linings in the fact that we get to all eat together as a family and to laugh and talk.”
She said the smallest conversations can lead to family activities.
“I’m looking after my grandson and he has a big sports cup that has all these different insects on it,” Frost said. “He asked me randomly the names of the insects, which then led to facts with him about different insects and the names of them, what they do and how they’re involved in ecosystems. … Those natural conversations lead on to projects.”
One of the biggest hurdles has been learning how to home school.
“We are parents at home in a crisis trying to school — think about that for a moment,” Frost said. “You will only do the best that you can. At the end of the day, education is not going to insulate your children from being healthy mentally in the long run. It’s just not. So, it’s important for families to understand that they can cut themselves some slack.”
If things get too stressful, feel free to take a day off to recharge.
“If you’re a parent today and you’re feeling overwhelmed, then everything’s off today,” Frost said. “[Tell your kids], ‘No school today!’ If right now what you need to do is to ground yourself and take a moment to breathe, then put something fun on [television] with the kids and relax. … Create a day that doesn’t seem like ‘Groundhog Day’ every day.”
If your job allows you to work from home, make sure you communicate with your spouse.
“For families working at home, it’s going to be ever important now that we’re learning to communicate,” Frost said. “Communication starts with listening, so just being able to say, ‘What can I do for you today? How are we going to get through the week? I’ve got these appointments, I’ve got a Zoom meeting,’ to coordinate and tag team with your partner.”
It’s also important to maintain boundaries inside the house.
“It’s important right now providing space and privacy so that we don’t start to feel like we’re getting on top of each other and end up arguing with our partners or getting into little spats with our kids,” Frost said. “If they feel like they’re all cooped up together and they’ve got cabin fever, it’s important to make sure that you are getting out for that hour of movement.”
However, if you go out to exercise, be sure to practice social distancing.
“We must adhere to [safety guidelines],” Frost said. “It’s been an eye opener to watch so many countries just disobey the rules in being able to keep yourself safe. We’ve got one job to do right now and that’s to keep our families safe and healthy, whilst the front liners are out there doing their job and saving lives.”
Above all, don’t forget to take some “me time.”
“Check in with yourself,” Frost said. “How am I actually feeling today? Am I anxious? Am I feeling a bit more tired? Am I feeling I don’t have much patience? Emotionally checking in with ourselves is what allows us to create more calm in our environment that will be more conducive to our whole family. It breeds a different type of mindset and attitude.”
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