To all the parents out there, cheers to you – this has been no easy task! There is so much pressure to do it “right.” Every stage of the child’s life has its ups and downs. The constant worrying and anxiety never goes away. We also have our own lives with personal and professional demands. Then add in family dynamics, our obligations to social life and our community. It’s endless and exhausting. As if it wasn’t already difficult, enter the pandemic into our lives. Parenting in COVID is tough!
Let’s point out the obvious consequences of parenting in the COVID world. We are scared for our children’s health. Daycares and schools are shut or have gone completely remote and we are left to figure out e-learning at home. This changes our routines and we may have to work at home while making sure the kids are fed. We feel alone and have no boundaries – there is nowhere to escape! The little ‘balance’ that we had pre-COVID is now nonexistent.
Parenting in the midst of a crisis – there is no manual. We are tired, overworked and see no light at the end of the tunnel. If I could, I’d hibernate like a bear for a year and hope to wake up when everything is over. But that’s not an option. These are the cards we’ve been dealt. How should we play our hand to survive?
Accept that this is the situation that every single person (and parent) is dealing with. Parenting in the middle of COVID is completely out of our control and we can’t fall victim to denial. The sooner we accept what is, we can then focus on how to navigate through the pandemic.
Reset Your Expectations
If you’re used to taking on more responsibilities at work and being part of all school activities and having a dynamic social life, then let’s reset. This is not going to be manageable in this environment and if you try to maintain what once was, you’ll set yourself up for failure. Figure out where your limitations are and know that they are going to be different temporarily. Remember, this isn’t going to make you less of an accomplished person! This means you’re being realistic with what’s in front of you. Know what you can practically manage and work towards that. Don’t try to go back to pre-pandemic ways. That’s not our current reality right now.
Give Yourself Grace
This isn’t the time to beat yourself up. As much as we hate it, there is so much happening that we can’t control. It’s okay if you lost your temper at home. It’s okay if you didn’t give your 100% in a meeting. Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to mess up, not be composed, to not even shower (for a day or two). Breathe and remember you are doing the best you can!
Gratitude puts our pain into perspective. Gratitude makes us feel happier and builds emotional resilience. Make it a habit to be thankful for one thing every day. Perhaps that’s for a great cup of coffee, for making a home-cooked meal or for the extra time you get to spend with your children. You’ll feel better and you’ll show up better.
Especially if you’re working right now, it’s difficult to switch off. The demands of work are greater and more complex. It’s easy to feel like all you do is work and take care of your kids. Social media isn’t helping either. You need time to regroup and be with your family or friends. Put your phone and all electronic devices away and focus on spending quality time and being present with those around you (or by yourself for a very rare moment).
It may seem silly to think about self care during times like this. Here’s the thing – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself also doesn’t need to be a grandiose thing. Think about what fills you up and gives you a boost of energy. Maybe that means having 20-minutes of quiet time to read a book. To drink a glass of wine. To watch your favorite movie. Figure out what you need, and then ask for it and make it a priority. Commit to one self-care act a week.
Focus on What You Can Control
We drive ourselves crazy when we try to control the things we can’t. To be most productive, think about what is in your locus of control. We cannot will COVID to disappear (we wish we could!). Do not stress about the things you have no power to change. Instead, shift your attention to what you can control and manage. Know that you have done the best you can.
Parenting is already really difficult. Throw in COVID, and parenting is pretty much impossible. Someday we are going to look back at these times and laugh at how creative we got to survive. That’s what this is all about. Survival. There is a lot we will learn about ourselves and our children as well. That’s the positive about this. We are spending more time than ever with our children. Time that we’ll never get back and that is special. To my fellow parents – we can do this. We ARE doing this. This too shall pass.