“It takes a village” – one reads this phrase and immediately associates it with the concept of parenting a child. Until recently, the idea of being a parent came with its usual fears and challenges: keeping them happy and healthy, and trying your best to be loving, connected parents. Now, add in the pandemic factor and suddenly what was challenging seems to be feeling nearly impossible to accomplish.
Parents all over are now expected to juggle the roles of full-time parents, caregivers, teachers, employees… the list goes on. Every. Single. Day. With no relief or clear vision of when it’ll finally be safe to return to their normal lives. We may ask ourselves, in what world should any parent be expected to excel in any one of these roles, and still have enough time and energy to add in some self-care at the end of the day? It’s no wonder you may feel as if you are losing your mind! And you are not alone.
A few things that may be helpful to remember as you continue to navigate these unprecedented times:
You are only human
It’s only natural to be feeling the emotional and physical toll of this heavy burden. It’s okay to feel scared, overwhelmed, angry, sad. Parents, you and your family are trying to survive through a pandemic. This is uncharted territory, with no clear guidelines on how to navigate this time unscathed. You are only human, and you are doing the best you can with what you have.
It’s not personal
There are times when you may feel like you’re failing, and that’s okay too. It may be helpful to gently remind yourself that stress is a big culprit here. When a person is suddenly under a lot of stress for long periods of time, sometimes getting through a simple to-do list becomes incredibly difficult. Your brains may be working overtime – feeling inconsistent, unmotivated, forgetful, and exhausted are all natural human responses. It is not a personal failure.
Re-evaluate those expectations
Parents, practice being kind to yourselves. Having the expectation that you should be able to take on all of this responsibility, with a smile on your face, without dropping a sweat, is unfair to you. It is okay and important to have reasonable expectations for yourself and your family – flexibility with screen time, homework assignments, household duties, sleep/nap schedules… whatever that might look like for you. Remember to try your best to be patient with your needs and emotions, as this is temporary. Not only will you have the chance to feel some relief, but throwing away those sky-high expectations may have a positive impact on your child’s stress level as well. You are already doing your best, and that will be enough.
Eventually, things will go back to the way they were. When that happens, parenting may still be scary and challenging, and it may still take a village, but that village won’t be composed of only you – teachers, coaches, caregivers, extended family and friends will be there to help. In the meantime, give yourself permission to recognize your strength, and allow yourself to take pride in what you are able to accomplish every single day for your family and for yourself.