If March 2020 turned your family members’ lives upside down, you are certainly not alone! As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly swept across the globe, parents everywhere were suddenly forced into overdrive. Many working parents frantically juggled work-from-home orders with the unexpected new full-time job as a homeschool teacher, sometimes retreating to typically odd places just to find a quiet space. Parents with essential jobs urgently sought new childcare options, often navigating long working hours coupled with the anxiety of inadvertently bringing the virus home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many parents concerned about their children and anxious for the future. Here are a few tips to create quality time with your children, regardless of whether you’ve been trapped indoors with them all day for months or juggling your parenting duties alongside a demanding job outside the home.

Find a new pandemic hobby to enjoy together.

There’s no need to beat yourself up if your family indulged in a little too much screen time during the early days of the pandemic, but there’s more to life than movies. Take up sewing, painting, playing a musical instrument, baking treats, or learning a new language, and commit to this hobby together. This expands your horizons and gives you and your child important bonding time together.

Be active as a family!

This might mean going on daily walks, biking, finding a local hiking trail that’s not too crowded, or trying out some virtual yoga classes in the living room. (There’s lots of free content online.)

Dedicate time to processing emotions and encourage your child to share their true feelings.

It’s natural to experience emotional peaks and valleys during this challenging time and being able to name those emotions is important for children, adolescents, and adults alike. A social-emotional learning curriculum, such as Empowering Confident Youth, can help.

Be involved in your child’s academia, but accept your own limitations with grace.

Helping your 7-year-old practice their reading skills may come more naturally than reviewing chemistry concepts with your teenager—and that’s okay! You may feel pressured to be Super Parent, but acknowledging your own limitations is actually an important parent skill. You may wish to seek out a tutor to support your children academically, but you can still challenge yourself to engage in the material and learn the content with them.

Consider the impact of physical touch.

If your children are preteens or teenagers, you may be well-acquainted with the phrase, “Don’t hug me!” Although your child may have created a “no-hugging” rule in pre-COVID times, the pandemic has created conditions that feel extra lonely and isolating for most people, and physical touch can be powerful. Consider asking your child if they would like a hug, even if they’ve previously sworn off hugs from Mom and Dad.