Pandemic Parenting 101: Don’t Forget to Prioritize Your Own Wellness


It has been a long road through this pandemic reality, and even with some very promising corners turned, we are not through it yet. Many parents have been navigating these strange days simply by doing all they can to keep their children’s lives on track — even if that means neglecting their own well-being. If that sounds familiar, this article is for you. Your wellness matters, and putting yourself last all the time isn’t ultimately doing anyone any favors.

We all want our kids to be happy. We want them to thrive, and we want to protect them from undue strife or struggle any way we can. But here’s the thing: If we all lived by that saying, “You’re only as happy as your least happy child,” we’d doom ourselves to a lifetime of limited joy. Until we take our happiness into our own hands and unhook it from our kids, we won’t experience the grounded sense of peace and joyfulness we crave with any consistency.

4 Ways to Set Your Happiness Free with Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness gives us many tools to help us pay attention to our own well-being — and it’s so easy to get started. Here are four mindful ways to prioritize your wellness.

  1. Do the Receiving-Sending Meditation: Breathe compassion in for yourself and out for the other person who is hurting, whether it is your child, yourself, or another parent. You can also breathe in the other person’s suffering and the suffering of all the people in your situation (including yourself) and breathe out peace and light. You can even breathe in the suffering of all the children who are suffering and breathe out peace and light.

  1. Choose and Use a Here-and-Now Stone: Choose a stone that you find in nature, or visit a gem or craft store to choose one that speaks to you. Carry it everywhere with you, whether in a pocket, purse, or on a cord around your neck. Let this stone serve as a positive distraction to separate yourself from any mess that makes you feel like you are under an avalanche. Feel your stone, and let it remind you to pause and breathe. This gives you the space to have more thoughtful, skillful reactions to any set of circumstances. When you are focused on your here-and-now stone, you are in the present moment and not worrying about your child’s past or future.

  1. Make a Joy List: I cannot recommend this highly enough. Make a joy list and do one thing from it each day. When you are feeling joy, remember to let it fill you up for a few breaths so that you are installing that positive mental state and rewiring your brain for more happiness and resilience!

  1. Start a Gratitude Journal: Each night, write the answers to these two questions in your gratitude journal: What did I enjoy today? What am I grateful for today? This is proven to create a positive feedback loop which makes people happier and healthier.

When I began to realize I could have a good day even if my kids were having a bad day, it changed my life. Of course, I have sympathy for them if they are sad or in trouble. And I usually have tremendous compassion for their situations and am willing to go above and beyond to help them find comfort and solutions. But I can still have a good day, and a good life, even if they are unhappy.

Give yourself permission to tap into your joy. After all, the happier and more at peace you are, the more able you are to show up with strength, courage, and commitment for those you love! Prioritizing your own wellness is a win-win for everyone.

Clarity and Sharing
Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Great Waters
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