7 tips for coping as a parent

Our expert interview series continues with a great chat with art therapist Liza Mordkovich. Our discussion explores how parents can take care of themselves because by taking care of themselves they take care of their children.

Liza brings a wealth of experience and knowledge with her. In addition to her work as an art therapist, she runs the Brooklyn Center for mindfulness and psychotherapy, a therapy collective in New York. She is also a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, and coach. She provided valuable insight for busy parents during our talk and we loved having her! Watch the video or scroll down for highlights.

Click on video below to listen to the whole conversation or scroll down for the highlights.

So tell me what kind of things have you been hearing from families?

People keep reiterating that this is such a crisis for their kids and I can entirely validate where those feelings come from. Because it is a tough time – schools are limited or not available at all and your ability to be able to go out and be with friends is limited. But really this is a crisis for families. It’s not just specifically a crisis for kids. So one of the things I’ve been hearing is really parents struggling, parents struggling with being able to regulate themselves and cope with the day-to-day stressors of juggling, online school, juggling their jobs, juggling taking care of household and everything else that has to do with that. 

It takes a village to raise our kids and there is no village right now. It’s on parent’s shoulders to do everything. And it’s overwhelming.

Let’s start with parents. How should parents take care of themselves?

The best that you can do both for your relationship with your kids and for yourself is really to care for yourself. You know, putting your own oxygen mask on first. Parents know this very well, that when they’re well rested, when they’ve taken care of themselves, when they’ve recharged, it’s easier to be around and be available and hold space for our kids. 

Taking care of self is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, it’s just as much of a necessity as brushing your teeth.

What should parents do for self care?

  1. I’m a big advocate for therapy and not just for when you’re in crisis mode, but as preventative care. 
  2. Reach out for support. Keep your support system close to you, touch base with them frequently. Check in with yourself. For example, if you realize you’re in a grouchy mood because of XYZ, so you haven’t eaten anything all day, have a snack. Take care of basic human needs and prioritize sleep. Get as much sleep as you can.
  3. Prioritize self care. Prioritize eating balanced meals, drinking water, taking showers, and the things that you enjoy doing as parents. Say you enjoy baking, right? Do those things with your kids because it fosters connection with your children and it’ll make you feel better. Even if you’re having a really difficult day, do an activity with your children. Even if you’re not in the mood to do that, it’s going to bring you closer and it’s going to make you feel better. Turn on music and just be silly with your kids and dance around the room.
  4. Practice mindfulness. Check in with yourself. What’s coming up for you? What emotions are coming up for you? What thoughts are coming up for you? 
  5. Simplify your life for your own self care. For example, it’s ok to cook less and have more take out. 
  6. Get dressed in the morning. It creates a separation from work and home. It makes you feel better.
  7. Practice acceptance and self compassion. 

How does this help your children?

You are modeling how to respond to a crisis. Your kids in times of distress are going to turn to their caregivers to observe how you’re handling it. Even if you feel that you’re not actually speaking the words and saying that you’re dealing with a tough time, they can see it with your behavior. You’re sort of showing them how to respond to crisis, to anxiety, to trauma, to isolation, to everything that’s going on with you. 

All of these emotions that are coming up, they’re completely valid. How we respond to our feelings is what is important. You’re also modeling to your kids that it’s okay to feel anxious. It’s okay in times of uncertainty sort of wonder what’s going on and have some anticipation and worry. And it’s how you handle those feelings that is important for your children.

About Liza Mordkovich

Liza is the founder and director of Center for Psychotherapy and Mindfulness.

Liza is a licensed social worker, licensed art therapist, psychotherapist, and coach. She is passionate about helping individuals conquer anxiety, addiction, stress, and providing perinatal wellness services including birth professionals. Her mission is to help individuals overcome obstacles, improve relationships, and lead a gratifying and joyful life using evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT).

More reading on pandemic parenting:

12 Tips for Working At Home During Coronavirus

3 tips to help children manage stress and anger in a healthy way

Finding childcare during Covid