In the Corona-Crisis, many parents have encountered the most challenging season of their parenting lives. The economic and healthcare uncertainties have created fear. Normal sources of childcare, like school and daycare, have gone away, leaving parents scrambling to find a way to work and care for their children. Everyone’s schedule has been dismantled. Furthermore, by proper rule, people must distance themselves from others, creating a great deal of loneliness.
The confluence of stress, disorder, isolation, and fear creates a potentially dangerous cocktail of misery and depression. A miserable, anxious parent can lose their temper and sanity quickly at home. In talking to parents and walking through this crisis myself, here are a few recommendations for maintaining your sanity during this challenging time.
(1) Spend time with Christ each morning.
The make-or-break factor in my sanity during this crisis has been whether or not I spend time with Christ each morning. If I read my Bible and spend time in prayer, I have more perspective, have more hope and joy, and am more patient with my kids. If I don’t, I get overwhelmed and depressed by the state of the world and become aloof and grouchy toward my family. I think this may be the most important season of my life for spending time with Christ. I recommend doing whatever it takes to find the 15-30 minutes for a devotional each day.
(2) Stay connected with your people.
The quarantine situation has been alienating for everyone. The isolation intensifies much of our despair and anxiety. Isolation is antithetical to the life God designed for us. God made men and women to be in communion with God and each other. The base consequence of sin is alienation from God and others; the end of the gospel is Christ restoring communion between God and man, and people to people.
Since most of us cannot gather in person with friends, we have to rely on technology. It’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing. I have two groups of friends who do a daily check in via text. This check in involves sharing how we are feeling – good or bad – and how our relationships are going within our families. We pledge to pray for one another. My wife has friend groups that are sharing frequently through the Marco Polo app. Whatever your technical means, I would recommend making an explicit aim to check in regularly, perhaps even daily, with redemptive friends.
(3) Stay connected with your church.
Nothing can replace the richness of face-to-face gathering for worship and study of the word. Although the restrictions of the quarantine present challenges, we cannot just mail in church community until we can again gather in person. If you have a mentor, or you personally disciple someone, then keep that appointment over the phone. If you have a weekly small group, then gather via videoconference like Zoom or Skype. If your church offers a live stream or video for worship, then print out the worship bulletin and participate every week. We were meant to follow Jesus together.
(4) Observe some semblance of a schedule.
God made the world in six days and established a sabbath for every seventh day. The Lord called Israel to observe various festivals each year at certain times. He established rituals for worship and sacrifice in the temple. Thus, we can see that God values routine.
Staying on schedule is grueling during normal times. Still, with so many of the items in our normal lives canceled, we can feel that rhythm missing. Adopting a daily routine and schedule and then basically adhering to it will help kids and parents alike stay sane.
One caveat: we have to give ourselves a lot of grace and not become rigid and draconian about a schedule with our kids. Let the schedule help you; don’t let it own you. Make that schedule but hold it loosely.
(5) Get outside.
Nobody seems to be struggling with this practice but it’s worth repeating: get outside to play or exercise. One family I know who is thriving during the quarantine has maintained a practice of a one-hour family walk in the morning.
Being outside exposes us to God’s creation and provides a glimpse of His glory. We need such signs often during dark times such as these.
Ultimately, strict adherence to these rules will not grant you sanity. These practices are meant to promote connection between God, our neighbors, and creation. Sanity is found via intimate fellowship, and particularly in close relationship with God.