COVID-19 has created a new set of challenges for parents/carers. Juggling remote learning with work and financial pressures, reduced access to home-based health services, and physical isolation from family/friends have all increased demands on parents. Those caring for children with mental or physical health conditions have reported even higher levels of family stress.

Often parents and carers put their children's needs first and say they will look after themselves when everyone else is 'okay'. Research shows that good parental mental health is associated with better child health - so when parents/carers look after themselves, they are looking after their children too! 

Research also shows that there are lots of different ways to improve your ability to cope with major stressors like COVID-19.  

Look after relationships!

Social connection helps reduce the impact of stressful events.   

  • Talk to other adults about how you are feeling, it is likely they are having similar experiences and this could help you feel more connected
  • If issues arise in relationships at home, take time to think together about what the problem is, brain storm solutions and try them out together. More info on problem solving click here
  • Experiment with different technologies for communication or just talk over the phone. Not everyone likes a video call
  • Consider joining online or telephone support groups.

Create a 'new normal'.

Creating routines and maintaining family rituals can help people cope during difficult times. It is likely that new routines will need to be developed while working and learning at home.

  • Be creative with routines when adapting to life at home. Maintain normal wake/sleep times, develop home based exercise programs, join online cooking/exercise/art classes
  • Set daily home based goals such as cleaning out wardrobes, gardening, or tidying to give a sense of accomplishment
  • Adapt important family rituals, such as celebrating birthdays, cultural events and individual achievements - instead of a party, invite friends to send photos/short videos that can be compiled and watched. 

Self Care

Sometimes people can feel guilty for 'being bad at self-care'. Identify activities you enjoy and can maintain.    

  • Beyond Blue has some great guides to self care and self care activities
  • Engage in things that give your life meaning – perhaps related to spiritual beliefs, mindfulness, being in nature (e.g. your local park), or creative activities, such as music or the arts
  • Take time to notice how you are feeling. Are you noticing changes in your thoughts, is your body under stress, has your behaviour changed, are you still interested in doing the things you enjoy?

Don't be afraid to ask for help

  • If you notice you are still struggling, seek help from your GP or other health care professionals such as psychologists.
  • If home learning is challenging for your family, speak to the school. Teachers are very aware that different children have different learning needs.  Asking for modifications or help is not a sign that the parent/carer or child is doing the wrong thing.


Dr. Claire Burton is a senior clinical psychologist and the Coordinator of Training and Education in the RCH Psychology Service. In her clinical work she provides psychological support to young people with medical conditions and their families and she has a background in community mental health and eating disorders.  She has an honorary appointment with MCRI Population Health, where her research is focused on evaluating a novel treatment for avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.  


•    Foster parent self-care: A conceptual model.
•    Is There a Trade-off Between Parent Care and Self-care?
•    The effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on parents: A call to adopt urgent measures.
•    Impact of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on community-dwelling caregivers and persons with
•    Risk and resilience in family well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
•    Promoting resilience in stress management for parents (PRISM-P): An intervention for caregivers
     of youth with serious illness.DOI: