CLEVELAND — For moms and dads to be the best version of themselves, the structures that support good parenting need to be in place.
"It's kids going to school, it's kids having a daycare to go to, it's kids being able to have playdates with their friends," said Dr. Lisa Damour.
With the pandemic disrupting so much of that, for two years now, Damour stepped up to fill the void.
"All of the uncertainty and all of the unpredictability has really taken it out of parents," said Damour.
From her home in Shaker Heights, the clinical psychologist launched the "Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting" podcast.
"Co-host Reena Ninan and I started this podcast because we knew parents needed help, we knew they needed it right away and they needed it on a weekly, nimble basis," said Damour.
Among the podcast's goals: help parents and children navigate the stress and anxiety of the pandemic.
"We just had our millionth download. We're actually now well past that," said Damour.
That huge following has been built entirely by word of mouth.
"That number tells me that we're somehow fitting into a space that needed to be filled," said Damour.
It’s a space where mentally exhausted moms and dads can find the coping mechanisms to help keep their families on track.
"She's my first podcast that I've ever listened to, I'm a total newbie," said Courtney Visioni.
Visioni, a Pepper Pike mother of two said she finds much-needed support that the pandemic severed.
“It's really been this community-building kind of experience," said Visioni.
In addition to tools to help her navigate parenting in a pandemic world, Visioni found ways to empower her children to take ownership during a time they cannot control.
"The kids painted kindness rocks to put out in a little basket in our neighborhood and they did a book drive for the Cleveland kids book bank," said Visioni.
Parents like Visioni are also encouraged to prioritize their own well-being while providing warmth and structure.
"Kids can handle a huge amount if they know what's coming even if it's a pretty short horizon we're preparing them for," said Damour.
At the end of the day, Damour says parents have to maintain perspective.
"The presence of the negative doesn't mean the absence of the positive," she said.
Despite this being a crisis of historic proportions, she suggested that parents focus on the fun moments that can easily be overshadowed.
"The longer this goes on, the more depleted we become, the more important it becomes we find ways to fill ourselves up and we lean into those and enjoy those. They can live side-by-side with this being a very hard time," said Damour.