Last updated on Jan 31st, 2021 at 12:26 am

2020 has been a crazy roller coaster of a year, with many ups and downs, pivots and changes. Our “new normal” has meant a lot of adjustments for all of us – especially for parents and their children. With an interrupted school year and new expectations for academic performance, children and parents alike have faced increased stress levels and anxiety.

ALSO SEE: How to help your child with exam stress and alleviate some of your own anxieties

Here are some practical ways for parents and children to unwind after a busy year, focusing on time management and self-care.

Manage your time better

One of the side effects of 2020 has been a total time warp (can you believe it’s almost Christmas?) This is true in workplaces, where the pressure is on to tie up all projects and loose strings before closing, as well as in schools, where learners are suddenly faced with final tests or exams after completing only portions of the curriculum. With so much pressure, it’s more important than ever to manage your time effectively.

Here are some great ways to do that:

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  • Time-block: Set aside blocks of time to work on big projects, or to study, to prevent being interrupted by a whole lot of smaller, nonessential tasks.
  • Prioritize: Identify what is Urgent, what is Important, and what is both Urgent and Important. Do the latter first. Anything that doesn’t make it onto any of these lists can be set aside for the time being.
  • Top 3: Using the lists you’ve created, identify 3 things that need to get done TODAY. A long to-do list can be the enemy of productivity.
  • Timing: Determine when you’re most productive. Are you a morning person, or a night-owl? Tackle your most important and difficult tasks at this time.
  • Break it up: Split large tasks, like studying for an exam or a big project, into smaller, more manageable tasks: study 1 chapter, or do one part of the project. The boost of confidence when you finish this task will help keep you on track for the next one.
  • Limit distractions: Avoid your phone, social media, and even emails when you have a big deadline ahead of you. The same goes for your child – make sure her phone is not with her while she is studying.
  • Schedule “me time”: Make sure that you add some “me time” into your calendar and your child’s.

ALSO SEE: Let’s talk boundaries: When all work and no play leads to burnout

How to engage in self-care

Along with managing your time better, you also need to ensure that you don’t burn out. The best way to do this is to regularly schedule “me time” or time for self-care (and to actually do it!) Self-care differs from person to person, but it’s a really important way to recharge and give yourself the mental and physical energy to tackle your days.

Pick a few self-care activities from the following list, or think up your own, and make time for at least one of them on a daily basis:

  • Exercise: Doing your favourite exercise (or just going for a walk around the block) will increase endorphins and allow you to better cope with stress.
  • Connect with a friend: Socializing is an important facet of self-care, especially in a time where socialization has been limited. Connect with a friend virtually or over a socially-distanced coffee, or arrange a safe activity for children who haven’t seen their friends for months.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Food impacts your health, your mind and your mood. Make sure that you are getting all the nutrients you need with a balanced diet.

ALSO SEE: Boost your family’s immune system with these everyday foods that are probably already in your fridge

  • Be your own best friend: What would your best friend tell you to do, to help you relax and take care of yourself? Treat yourself the way that your best friend would, and ignore any misplaced feelings of guilt for taking an hour or a night off.
  • Read a book: Reading allows us to be transported to another world for a short time. This is an excellent form of self-care. If reading isn’t your thing, try an audiobook or podcast.
  • Meditate: Meditation and mindfulness have increased in popularity since the start of COVID, and for good reasons: these help you to stay present, stay grateful, and better cope with your emotions.
  • Engage in hobbies: Take some time to engage in your favourite hobbies if they’re safe, or find new ones if they’re not. Improving upon or learning a new skill while doing something that you enjoy is excellent self-care.
  • Spend time with pets: There’s a reason that animals are used in therapy! Spending time with animals can help ground you, as well as release oxytocin and other happy chemicals.
  • Do something fun: Fun activities help to reduce stress and allow you to handle anxiety better.

If your child is struggling to find the time for self-care because of the academic workload maybe look at getting a tutor. A Brightsparkz tutor can help relieve the pressure on your child and you, by providing focused and specific individual attention.