I have learned so much from the pandemic.
Parenting is as unique as a fingerprint. There is no one golden way to parent. And if 2020 didn’t show us that, I don’t know what will. We are all trying to figure it out and if at the end of the day you are at peace with your life, I don’t care what anyone else says. Job well done, mama.
Life is amazing, isn’t it? One day you have everything listed out neatly in a planner then the next you have to throw the list and the planner out the window. Things change. I went from having several coffee/lunch meetings per week to stay sheltered in place and making the swift shift to Zoom calls. My kids became my full-time students, and I took on yet another role: teacher.
Ultimately, our family decided it was best to keep as many of our children home to limit the risk of exposure to COVID. I learned to become the teacher. It was a tough choice, but I’m glad we did it.
Let me tell you what kind of setup I have at home. I have an 11 month old who is walking (kind of like Frankenstein, but he gets around rather well). I have a four year old, a six year old, a ten year old, and a 14 year old who are all at home with me during the day. On top of that, I have a 15 year old who goes to school in person with 2,000 other students. Yikes!
That’s a lot. I know. At first, I had everyone on a schedule. I made breakfast. I placed them all neatly in their respective places for learning.
I made sure I was on top of it.
Breaks were scheduled. Everything was planned from the moment they woke up to the end of the day.
Wanna take a guess at how long that lasted? Yeah, not very long.
I was getting on everyone’s nerves, and they were driving me bonkers. I was stressing so much over getting it right that I was missing out on the joys of parenting.
Here are a few takeaways I learned from pandemic parenting that I want to share with you:
Kids are humans, not robots.
I had to take a step back and realize that this is new for all of us. Especially my children. They didn’t ask for this and although we might think they are attached to devices, they are not themselves devices. They are humans. They have emotions. I learned they are allowed to make mistakes and have bad days. It is okay.
Schedule Shmedule (sh-med-yule)
I am a planner. I also overthink things. When the pandemic started, there were so many unknowns that I needed to feel like I could control at least one aspect of my life. A strict schedule doesn’t work so well when life happens. When the baby needs your undivided attention. When it’s simply not a good day, at all. I learned sometimes it is necessary to pause the schedule and go off-script.
Go outside. Take a break. Watch a movie. Take a drive. The work will always be there. The little moments we often take for granted won’t be. It’s okay to plan and it’s even more okay to derail the plan and live.
Be intentional about checking in with yourself and your kids.
The past year and a half has been a little cray. News upon news, new developments, variants, vaccinations, and on and on. It’s enough to make anyone break down, even someone who seems to have it all together. I have had anxiety attacks and sleepless nights. There are days when I am just not okay. I give myself grace and let the people around me know how I am feeling. I ask for help when I need it.
I know if it is happening to me, it is likely my children are facing things too. Oftentimes, I can look at them and they appear to be fine on the surface. I have made it a priority to check in with them on a deeper level. To ask them how they are feeling and let them talk. My 15-year-old son told me the other day that sometimes he just doesn’t know what he is going to do with his life. I listened and reassured him that sometimes I still don’t know what I am going to do with my life, and it’s okay.
Things may never return to normal.
We may have to bling out our masks and wear them like a new accessory. No one really knows. The pandemic has taught us how to think quickly, adjust, and change our perspectives. Especially around education. Kids gathering together in a traditional classroom might be a thing of the past in the coming years. Are we ready to embrace a new normal? Can there be a balance between virtual learning and in-person learning? My children have definitely taught me a thing or two and mostly to stop taking myself so seriously. To live. To lean into distractions and embrace moments and milestones.