If we thought parenting was tough before, COVID has definitely taken things up a notch (or two). Parents are facing challenges that no generation before ours are adequately able to guide us through (anyway, not based on their own past experience of living through a pandemic).
Sure, there have been pandemics before, but not in a time where most of the population of parents both need to juggle work, family life, online/home schooling, screen time, anxiety and even depression.
You only need to scroll through your social media feed to be bombarded by suggested physical and creative activities, home-schooling curriculums, nutritious meals, emotional support, and the list continues.
Of course, these articles and resources are all with GOOD intentions, and most are helpful, but I for one, sometimes feel like it adds to the weight, the overwhelm, and the never-ending list of to-do’s and want to do’s that are floating around in my mind.
Add to that: working from home, schooling kids (and in many instances no nannies or domestic workers around during lockdown), and you are bound to feel like throwing in the towel at least once every 10 minutes.
Here is what I would suggest (from my own experience as a work from home mom of three boys aged 6, 4 and 2):
Do what you can (not what everyone else is)
Are your children fed? Do they laugh, run and play often? Does the sound of the word ‘’mommy’’ or ‘’mom’ or ‘’maaaammaaaa’’ sometimes make you want to run for the hills?
Do you sigh a big breath of relief when they are all tucked in for the night? Then, that is ok, and that is enough.
Stop looking at social media and wishing your house (and you) could be as organised, your kids could be as well-behaved, your decorative pillows would never be on the floor, and your dog could open a banana for your toddler.
Good for those people! Wish them well for when the cameras are not rolling and be on your merry way.
Today is what you have right now
One of my favourite things to ask overwhelmed friends (and myself) is: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time.
If all you can handle today for dinner is eggs on toast, and more screen time than you would like to admit (so you can get some other things done), so be it. Tomorrow, you will do something creative, cook a nutritious meal and build a fort with your kids.
And I bet you, your children will someday remember those things as some of their fondest memories.
Do not wallow
It’s very easy to pull into yourself right now, with lockdown as an excuse to completely retract yourself from the world. Be careful not to isolate yourself so much, that you completely lose perspective, especially if you are prone to negativity and self-criticism.
Reach out to your family, your best friend or partner and get the weight of the load off your chest. You will probably find that you have more to give than you thought, and there is no better way to feel better and lighter, than helping another person through the same challenges and feelings of overwhelm.
Take a (real) break
Stepping away from a situation for a short while is often very effective to gain back some perspective.
If at all possible, have a standing arrangement with your partner for both of you to have set out times to take personal breathers. This does not include going to the store to buy weekly groceries for your family.
Take a drive, go running, cycling or walking and if possible, switch off your phone.
Invest in (objective) parenting advice
There is nothing more counterproductive than getting parenting advice from different resorts. It’s massively demotivating and confusing when you find that your parenting style and views differ from the next person’s and you then begin to doubt your own parenting.
Connect and get advice from like-minded people, or better yet, find an unbiased, uninvolved person, like a coach to help you address your unique family dynamics.
Munchkins’ parenting coaches have been consulting with parents and families remotely via Zoom and similar platforms with great success before lockdown was a word, but it has become even more effective and refined during this time.
Have a look at these two testimonials: