Project Pinwheel

A note about COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging and stressful for many people—especially parents. There is even more pressure on parents who are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. Parents have had to balance homeschooling, caring for their children without childcare and, in some cases, loss of income or employment all while continuing to be a stable presence for their children. Despite this hardship, it is possible for children and family relationships to thrive.

Due to COVID-19 and the ongoing need to practice precautions, some of the recommendations for ways to help and connect with others listed on this page are not safe and should be avoided at this time—especially those that call for close contact with others. However, many of the strategies listed here are still possible! You can continue to look for ways to connect with others by phone, video or from a safe distance. Sharing connection, support, sympathy and encouragement with other parents and their children can benefit both them and you.




What Parents Can Do


Parents and caregivers are integral in keeping kids safe.


The responsibilities that come with being a parent are many. It can feel overwhelming, especially when stressors are building—but you are not alone. There are community resources available to support you in raising children who are healthy, resilient and ready to thrive.
Take Care of Yourself

Take Care of Yourself

Parenting is stressful. Managing your stress is very important for your peace of mind and the well-being of your child. The following tips can help you—and your child—manage stress:

  • Notice how your body responds to stress. Does your heart beat faster? Do you have less patience, a stomachache or body aches? No matter how you experience stress, learning to notice it, name it and address it will help you feel better and will help your child learn about feelings and controlling emotions.
    For example, you might say, "Mommy is feeling so mad that you are not following the rules and keeping others safe. My heart is beating so fast. I need to take a break and take a deep breath.” Describing your feelings can help your child learn how to recognize and cope with their own feelings.
  • Taking several deep belly breaths can help you calm your body and mind and lower your stress levels. You and your child can try this together—check out this fun Elmo video.
  • Move your body. Physical activity is one of the most immediate ways to calm stress hormones.
  • Give someone a hug or pet an animal.
  • Make sure that your needs are met and that you are eating healthy food and getting adequate sleep. Take a nap or go to bed early if you can—even if other things need to wait.
Listen and Connect

Listen and Connect

Having a friend to lean on can make a challenging day of parenting a bit easier, but finding new friends as an adult can feel difficult. It often feels that way for others, too. Take the leap and reach out to someone you would like to get know better. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Check out the Spokane Mama Facebook Page. Connect with other moms at casual, no-pressure events that are usually free.
  • Get outside! Walking around your neighborhood can be a good way to meet people who live close to you. Your neighborhood park and library are also good places to connect with other parents and caregivers. Many parents of older children long for the days of infancy and toddlerhood and would love to help you by watching your little one.
  • Check out Spokane’s city and county libraries. They typically host a regular schedule of story times for parents and their infants and toddlers.
  • Join your child’s Parent-Teacher organization. It is a good way to meet other parents, engage with teachers and be involved in your child’s school.

If you are feeling isolated as a result of COVID-19, consider seeking professional counseling or contact WA Listens by calling 1.833.681.0211. This is a free, anonymous service for anyone in Washington state. Many counselors are also providing telephone support you can access at home.

Ask for Help

Ask for Help

It takes a village to raise a child. Being needed 24 hours a day, seven days a week is challenging and overwhelming. Here are some ways that you can find help when you need it, as well as some things to consider when asking others to help you:

  • Reach out to family and friends for babysitting or help caring for children if you need a break.
  • If it isn’t possible to get assistance from family or friends, call the National Parent Hotline at 1.855.4A.PARENT.
  • If you often feel angry, irritable, sad or are having mood swings and difficulty concentrating, contact a medical care provider. Medical providers may offer telehealth for these services during COVID-19, making it easier for parents to get support.
Screen caregivers carefully

If you are relying on a family member, friend or neighbor to care for your child, help them understand basic child development and appropriate care and discipline.

  • Childcare Aware has tips to help you choose high quality childcare centers as well as inspection reports on each licensed center in the state.
  • The Red Cross also offers a babysitting course that includes Child CPR and First Aid.
  • Children with developmental disabilities are at higher risk for abuse and neglect than children without. If your child tells you about abuse or inappropriate touching, believe them. Visit preventchildabuse.org for more information.1
In Crisis? Help is Available

Vanessa Behan, a nonprofit organization, defines a crisis as “anything that keeps you from taking care of your child as well as you would like.”2 Parents may need a break to catch up on sleep, get groceries, or go to the doctor, while others may need additional support to get back on their feet after illness, job loss or trauma.

  • Vanessa Behan works to help parents who do not have access to other care, regardless of the reason. The nursery is open 24 hours a day and children can stay for up to 72 hours. You can reach the nursery at 509.535.3155. Vanessa Behan also provides a mini resource bank where parents can get free diapers, formula, books and toys.
  • If you are concerned about your safety or that of your kids, the YWCA and Kalispel Victim Assistance can help with safety planning, shelter and housing, medical care, legal support and other resources. The YWCA 24-hour helpline is 509.326.2255 and Kalispel Victim Assistance Services is 509.789.7671 (open to everyone).

Hormone fluctuations, lack of sleep and many other factors increase the risk of depression and/or suicidal thoughts after having a child. If you are thinking of harming yourself or your child, call 911. If you would like to talk with someone from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255) or use their webchat.


A note on connection during COVID-19

Due to the pandemic and the need to practice precautions, our usual opportunities for seeking support have changed. Continue to look for ways to get a break by asking a healthy individual from within your social bubble to care for your children for a short time. Ask that individual to follow public health precautions to protect your family and themselves. When help is unavailable, look for opportunities to engage children in a safe activity and step away to give yourself a break:

  • Place an infant in a crib with a mobile or a swing while you engage in home exercise, read a book or meditate.
  • Engage toddlers or preschoolers by setting up a safe independent activity, like a television show, drawing, or playing with their favorite toy so that you can do something for yourself.
  • Take turns with a partner so that you each get time alone to recharge while the other cares for children.

During COVID-19, there has been on outpouring of support from community members offering to care for others’ children. While this is a seemingly positive response, it can also place children at risk for harm. Parents need to scrutinize anyone they plan to leave their children with and should consider the following:

  • How well do I know this person and any other adults in the household?
  • What is this person’s experience with children?
  • What is their experience with age-appropriate expectations?
  • How many children will they be caring for at one time?
  • Where will they be cared for? Is the environment child-proofed?
  • Is the caretaker CPR certified?
  • How does the caretaker handle stress—what support system do they have if they get overwhelmed?
  • Has anyone in either household been ill or had a fever?

Learn

Learn

From birth to age 18 and beyond, there is a lot to know about how children learn and develop and about how to raise them. Learning can be challenging, confusing and rewarding. Here are some resources to prepare you for different stages, no matter your child’s age:

  • Babies’ brains grow rapidly during the first three years of life. The strength of the connections developed in the brain are directly related to the experiences that a baby has with parents and caregivers. When they receive responses to their needs and their communication, their brain’s neural connections are shaped. Researchers at Harvard University describe this back-and-forth interaction as “serve and return.” Learn more about this concept and what it means for you and your baby.
  • Understand developmental milestones and the age when they normally occur. This will help you and others have realistic expectations for your child’s behavior. Parents can sometimes feel frustrated with a child’s behavior, but it may be completely appropriate based on their development. You can learn more about your child’s development, positive parenting, safety, and well-being with these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can also download the CDC’s free milestones app for additional information.
  • If you have concerns about your child’s development, talk with your doctor.
  • If your child (ages 0-3) is experiencing a delay in their development, contact Spokane Regional Health District’s Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) at 509.324.1651.
  • To learn more about how you can support your child’s development, as a parent or caregiver, participate in research-based parenting classes such as Circle of Security or Conscious Discipline.
  • Children’s Home Society offers counseling and parenting support for children (up to age 18) and families, with special groups just for teens. Call 509.747.4174 for an intake appointment.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a free course for parents and caregivers that provides fundamental information about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to support a child with a mental health condition.
  • Parenthelp123 offers information on child development, accessing medical services and more.
  • If you qualify for home visiting services, enroll! Home visiting is routine care after having a baby in many parts of the world. A nurse or other professional visits you during your pregnancy and after your baby is born. They are a trusted source for advice, guidance and resource connection. Visit the Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers or the Incredible Years websites to learn more.
  • Catholic Charities’ CAPA/PREPARES (Childbirth and Parenting Assistance) provides an environment for parents to build loving bonds with their kids and also offers stabilizing and advocacy services to individuals and families with children ages 5 and under.
  • Partners with Families and Children partner with families to develop relationships based on equality and respect and enhance a family's capacity to support all members. They offer services and programs that assist, educate and advocate for you and your family.
Participate

Participate

Volunteer as a family! Kids love being involved with something bigger than themselves. Not only does it foster a sense of purpose, it can also reinforce the importance of giving when you are able. Find the right volunteering opportunity for you and your child by visiting Spokane Cares, which offers volunteer opportunities for many different interests.

Advocate

Advocate

Policies impact every aspect of our lives and you can make a difference.

  • Check out advocacy resources, such as MomsRising or the Children’s Alliance for information about ways to support access to things all families need to be resilient and healthy, like safe and affordable childcare for all, consistent work scheduling, leave benefits for all employees or livable wages.
  • If you haven’t already, visit the County Elections office in-person or online to register to vote, check your voting status, or update your address.
For Foster Parents, Grandparents and Other Caregivers

For Foster Parents, Grandparents and Other Caregivers

Your generosity of home and heart is helping to keep kids safe and out of harm’s way. Taking care of children who have been removed from their families and who may have potentially been exposed to abuse and neglect is not an easy job. Learn more, get support and connect with other foster parents at Fostering Together.

If you are a family member providing kinship care, you know this situation can be both rewarding and challenging. Connecting with services and other caregivers can ease some of the challenges you are facing. See the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) site to learn about available home and community services.


1 “Fact Sheet: Maltreatment of Children with Disabilities,” Prevent Child Abuse America, last accessed September 10, 2019, https://preventchildabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/maltreatmentofchildrenwithdisabilities.pdf.

2 “Parents,” Vanessa Behan, last accessed February 5, 2020, https://www.vanessabehan.org/for-parents.