Parenting is hard.
Add a pandemic, quarantining, kids learning virtually, racial injustice, coups.
Remove childcare, job security, access to family and friends.
This has been tough.
In this challenging year, I did learn a few hacks that have helped make this difficult job a little bit easier. Hopefully they can help you as we go forward.
- Understand what you value — We cannot do it all. We couldn’t before and definitely not now. Even when things go back to “normal” even the most superhuman of us cannot do it all. So my advice to you is to really think about what is MOST important to you for your children and your family. What do you really want for your family?* *Note: This is likely to be different than your best friend’s or your neighbor’s or your MIL’s non-negotiables for their family and that is A-OK. That is why they are YOURS. Is it being outdoors in nature? Is it making sure they learn music? Is it spending time together? Is it home cooked meals together around the table? For me, this pandemic, I realized that my priority was my boys’ sense of self-confidence and security. Knowing that helped me know where to focus my energy. We might have ordered dinner, but we sat around the coffee table together talking about our days and playing 20 questions about ocean animals. Do they miss their bath? It’s fine. We can spend 30 more minutes outside playing, then read a book, talk about their day, snuggle and feel loved. The bath can wait. Give yourself the power to say no and feel fulfilled by knowing what is important to you and your kids.
- Frozen food — The amount of cereal and snacks we have gone through this year terrifies me for when my boys are teenagers. Even though we have all been home all the time, I have less time than ever before to cook. I have really relied on frozen food as a key staple to get us through. This is composed of a few things. Yes, I do have frozen pizzas and meals that are easy for no-cook nights. I also learned about a local meat company in our neighborhood and they deliver in bulk taquitos, dumplings, and vegetarian options that can be frozen and heated quickly for a home cooked feel. We also freeze all our bananas and fruit when it is about to turn and use it for smoothies, which is when I can throw in extra frozen spinach and some peanut butter for the kids on the days when cheerios and buttered pasta were the only other food we could manage.
- Take a Break — All four of us have needed space this year. Being all together in the house all the time has definitely posed its mental challenges for us. While my boys play really well together 83% of the time, they need a break. We all do. It is important to recognize this moment of meltdown so that we can be kind to ourselves and each other. Some days, I can sense the tension and we get our shoes on and go for a walk. The fresh air usually clears up any bad moods fairly quickly, even if one person is crying and saying they don’t want to. That person usually is the one that needs the walk the most. For me, I might go into the bedroom, take my time washing my face, enjoying the quiet for as long as I can. We all need these breaks. It is ok to let your family know when you need it and then take it. Do not feel guilty about it because you will be a better mom/dad/brother/sister afterward.
Parenting is hard. We know this and we are here to help.