For Pregnant Individuals & Parents
Taking Care of Yourself and Staying Connected to Others
If this is a difficult time for you, it is important to take two things very seriously; 1) self-care; and 2) staying connected to others for support. We need both – we cannot only rely on ourselves, nor only rely on other people to help us through.
Eat regular healthy meals and snacks. Our brains need good vitamins and nutrition to function well. This means that the food we eat can directly impact our mood and how we feel. There is even a whole new field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry because the link between food and mood is so strong. Try limiting sugar and processed foods, and add in fruits and vegetables. If your family does not have enough food, visit Other Resources for links to support.
Breathing & Meditation
Staying Connected to Others
Support can make all the difference in helping you feel better. Without it, we can feel very alone and it can take longer to feel more like ourselves.
Make a list of people who you feel safe with and can talk to. It doesn’t need to be a long list – but just knowing there are a couple people you can count on is very important.
Schedule regular times to talk with family and friends online, via phone, or in-person.
Connect with a therapist or other mental health provider. Check out our Resources for Pregnant Women and Parents for referrals.
Write letters to family and friends. Writing can be a great way to deal with difficult feelings, especially if talking is not as comfortable for you.
Be careful connecting with people online that you do not know. When we are stressed we can have a harder time knowing who is a safe person and who is not. Try to stick to connecting with people you know well and who are supportive of you.
Parenting young children is hard already – and we know that the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing racism has made this an even more stressful and uncertain time for many. You may be experiencing mental health symptoms that make parenting harder, you may be trying to work from home AND parent, and you may be experiencing other difficult things like all of a sudden being unemployed, living in a home that doesn’t feel safe, or suffering from other illness.
The first step to supporting children is to take care of yourself and stay connected to others. It is much easier to parent when we feel okay and supported.
Here is what we want you to know about supporting your children during this time:
Take care of yourself and stay connected to others. It is much easier to parent when we feel okay and supported. View the information above about Taking Care of Yourself and Staying Connected to Others for ideas to cope and stay healthy.
The most important thing to remember for supporting children during a stressful time is to make sure they have support. Stress can become manageable and even have positive impacts for children as long as they have the support they need in the midst of stress. This means that they have someone they can go to when they have difficult feelings, someone who can help them make sense of what is happening, and someone who is committed to helping them feel safer.
Even though children may not be able to tell you how they are feeling, children may also be feeling worried, sad, or overwhelmed. Infants and young children show their feelings through their behavior. For many children, the changes of not going to childcare or school may cause them to feel many difficult feelings. You are not alone if you are seeing changes in your child such as:
- More crying, fussiness, or whining;
- Wanting to be near you all the time or wanting to be alone more;
- More anger, frustration, or defiance;
- Changes in sleeping, eating, or toileting
If you are feeling calm and ok, try talking to your child about the feelings they are having that you notice. Helping them name the feelings they have tells them that you understand them and that you are there to support them. Even though it may feel strange for some, you can talk to infants and young children about their feelings and what is happening. Even if they cannot talk yet or fully understand what is happening, your calm presence and reassurance can make all the difference.
If your child’s emotions or behavior feel too overwhelming for you or your child, you can still get mental health support for your children right now. Access Resources for Children for more information about where you can get help.