Parent & Caregiver Guide to Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

  1. Care for yourself so you can care for others
  2. Focus on what you can control
  3. Stay emotionally connected

Content provided by Zero To Thrive

Content collated from the Zero to Thrive Program


During this coronavirus outbreak, many parents and caregivers are feeling stressed or worried about lots of things, from staying healthy, keeping the family well, paying bills, caring for children who are homebound, and the list goes on. These kinds of worries can feel overwhelming and cause strong emotions. What can parents and caregivers do to cope with this unprecedented crisis?

Care for yourself so you can care for others

Caring for ourselves helps us to be ready and able to care for and nurture our children and those we love.  During these difficult times, it is important to employ helpful coping strategies. Try to maintain a sense of routine as much as possible, prioritize your basic needs, and employ helpful coping strategies. 

In addition to eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity, nurturing and refueling yourself emotionally is critical. Take time to relax and find things that help you feel calm. These might include prayer, mindfulness, a warm shower, reading, or listening to music. 

If you are feeling especially stressed or overwhelmed, seek out professional help. Many mental health providers have the capacity to provide services via “telehealth” (i.e. therapy provided by phone or an online platform). Contact Michigan Medicine’s Psychiatry Department at 734-764-0231 (toll free: 1-800-525-5188) or learn more about stress and coping during COVID-19.

Focus on what you can control

During this stressful, rapidly changing time, it may feel like many things are out of our control. In moments like this, it is helpful to take a step back, and consider the parts of our lives where we can make choices and can take positive action. We can feel more peaceful (and less worried!) when we recognize how we play an active role in helping ourselves, our families, and our communities. 

Understanding the facts about COVID-19 and being prepared can make an outbreak less stressful. Seek out news and information from trusted public health sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Be sure to follow prevention guidelines, including washing your hands often, trying not to touch your face, covering your cough or sneeze, and maintaining 6-feet of space between those you don’t live with. 

Stay emotionally connected

Experts are recommending that we keep space between people – at least 6 feet. This is called social distancing and is an important way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. However, keeping physical space between people does not mean emotional distancing! In fact, staying connected to friends and family will reduce your stress. Call a loved one or check in with your neighbor while maintaining at least 6-feet of space between you and them. It can be calming to simply think about the people you care about and draw on the strength of those connections. So, stay back, but keep your heart close. 

These are unprecedented times. But these times also create tremendous opportunities for us to practice our values – to care for others, connect with those we love, to find community and purpose wherever we can. This reminds us all of how connected we are to one another – and ultimately, we get through this together.