As a parent, you know just how important it is to have friends who are parents themselves to help guide you through the more challenging moments with your kids. Those friends are often the ones on standby when you think you’ll need an extra hand or, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the support system you hope to lean on when the stress of attempting to balance working from home while homeschooling sets in. Without these connections (or the ability to hear their helpful suggestions on what’s worked for them), you can feel even more alone. And these are especially challenging times for parents: In a Thrive Global survey of 5,000 Americans about coronavirus pain points, 88 percent of parents report wishing that they knew more ways to remain productive while working from home with their children. Respondents also report concern about their children and friends: Nearly 80 percent say that the outbreak has negatively affected their family, and over 75% say it’s negatively affected their friends. 

While having to remain physically distant from the friends who can help you most can feel isolating, you should still rely on them for support. After all, there’s a reason why you forged these friendships in the first place. One study from the University of California, Los Angeles found that when women are stressed, their “fight-or-flight” response is met with a “tend-and-befriend” pattern. In other words, many people look to nurture and forge connections in the face of stressful circumstances, bringing us closer to other people who can, in turn, help us cope with feelings of overwhelm. Since this landmark study, research on the benefits of having a “mom tribe” has only grown. 

A study from the University of Arizona showed that having close, authentic relationships with friends better equipped women for the challenges of motherhood. 

It’s reassuring to have someone you can text when your baby wakes up and won’t stop crying in the middle of the night — someone who’s been there. And in these uncertain times, it’s also reassuring to have a friend you can partner with to help brainstorm creative stay-at-home activities that will keep your children enriched and busy. And even though you can’t do that in person, it’s crucial to maintain those connections. Leaning on those friendships, even if it’s only via text, calls, or FaceTime, will remind you that you are never alone, even when we’ve all been asked to isolate ourselves indoors. 

If you’re feeling lonely or distanced from your other parent friends, or feel in need of their advice to manage the unique parenting and working challenges of the pandemic, try these Microsteps.  

Check in with a fellow parent.

Call or text a friend you trust to ask how they’re managing the stress of parenthood at this time — and exchange tips. 

Set up a recurring virtual play date.

Help your child to connect with their friends or school mates by setting up a FaceTime or Zoom session during the day. 

Today, brainstorm a list of activities your kids can engage in while you’re working.

Whether it is art projects, specific audiobooks, homework, yard work, household chores, or other home projects, having a list handy will be a big help to refer back to when you need it.

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