Gateway Gazette

Healthy Together: Parents Take Care of Yourselves

Self-care. It’s a recommended mantra—and practice—for parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking care of yourself helps in two ways. One—it gives you the energy to care for your family. Two—it preserves and protects your mental and physical health.

“How you care for yourself varies from person to person,” says Keri-Lynn Strain, the manager of Healthy Parents, Healthy Children at Alberta Health Services. “You could ask a dozen people how they care for and get a dozen different answers. What’s common is making and taking time for yourself and for your wellbeing.”

Taking time for yourself is a great way to deal with stress. Let your partner and kids know when you need time alone to refresh.

If they ask, let them know your time alone is not because something’s wrong nor about your relationship with them. It’s a way to stay healthy.

“When you take time for yourself, you’re really making space for yourself in your life. Your mind and body get a break and a chance to re-energize. It’s meant to be about you,” Strain says.

“It’s also good to encourage your partner to self-care—in their own way. Being supported to take time for yourself is a sign of a healthy relationship.”

Self-care helps parents in two ways. One, it gives you the energy to care for your family. Two, it preserves and protects your mental and physical health.

Start with being:

  • Kind to your mind: Write down your thoughts or feelings in a journal. Stay connected with your family and friends. Talk about your feelings with someone who will listen. Ask for (and accept!) help from others.
  • Kind to your body: Be active, drink plenty of fluids and eat regularly. If you’re tired, nap or rest when you can. Carve out moments to relax.

Do things you enjoy and make you feel good, such as:

  • A hobby. Scrapbooking, woodworking, making a cake or puttering in the garage.
  • Get outside. Fresh air can revive you. (And physical distancing can protect you)
  • Soak in the tub
  • Piece together a puzzle
  • Try a crossword
  • Read a novel
  • Do some yoga
  • Meditate.

Relieve Financial Stress

COVID-19 has financially strapped millions of Albertans. Many of us are facing job losses, business closures and health worries. On top of that we’re caring for our families and our worlds have become much smaller.

Money may not be everything, but when you don’t have enough of it to get by, it can lead to sleepless nights, constant anxiety, family quarrels and the feeling life is spinning out of control.

You can find help from Money Mentors, a not-for-profit credit counselling agency for Albertans. It offers a long list of resources and counselling services.

All three levels of government are working to relieve families’ and businesses’ financial pressures. For example, the Government of Alberta has committed $50 million for emergency isolation support. Eligible Albertans can get a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are affected by the pandemic and have no other support.

The Government of Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit provides temporary relief to workers affected by COVID-19. People may receive $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. Payments will be monthly.

For details about financial support, visit:

Please note: this information is current as of April 1, 2020 and is subject to change

When you take time for yourself, you’re really making space for yourself in your life. It’s meant to be about you.

Balance Your Relationship

Balance is tricky—and unique–in every relationship. The stress, loss of routine, and uncertainty of COVID-19 can create challenges for all types of relationships.

To weather these stormy times, try to be flexible and fix imbalances as they occur. Good honest communication preserves a healthy, balanced partnership. Try setting aside a time each day with your partner and other family members. Share your feelings out loud; encourage them to do the same. Skip the mind reading. Talk it out.

When it comes to quality relationship time, start small. Even going out for a short walk or watching a funny movie or TV show can be a welcome break with your partner or kids. Laughter is great medicine.

Embrace empathy and compassion. Empathy is seeing things through someone else’s eye to understand them better. Compassion is feeling concern for others’ difficulties. Both benefit any relationship—and the challenges your family is facing.

It’s also important to take others’ feelings into account. Show gratitude. Respect differences.

Keep in mind the importance of give and take—you need to give a little to get a little in return.

Encourage and support each other. Take an active interest in each other’s goals and ambitions. Be a good listener. Think before you speak.

When the time comes for you, your partner and your children to have a moment of solitude—and it will—remember kindness and give each other space.

You can find more on healthy relationships from Healthy Parents, Healthy Children.

Related Feature: Stay ’n’ Play!

Resources for Support

If you or anyone in your home is struggling, stressed or anxious, you’re not alone. You can find help and support from:

Financial Tips to Get You Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Money Mentors is a not-for-profit credit counselling agency for Albertans. It offers this advice for managing your finances during a crisis:

  1. Research financial relief options available to you and start the application processes
  2. Create an emergency budget and stick to it. Money Mentors has lots of online resources and tools to help
  3. If you cannot make your payments, reach out to your creditors before you miss payments
  4. Book an appointment with a Money Mentors counsellor and create an ongoing financial plan and find support.

As well, contact your bank, mortgage holder, credit card company, utility providers and others to see if they offer any financial help. You can also get help with your student loan and get an increase to your Canada Child Benefit.

Welcome to Healthy Together, your guide to family and home life during COVID-19. 

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