Pandemic Parenting is definitely something I was not ready for. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read all the books and went to all the classes. I knew what to do in most situations I could expect to run into as a parent. Thanks to a wild streak and some bad luck he was born with, I even navigated through some things the books had missed. By the time my second came, I teased she’d have to try real hard to throw me for a loop. I was a pro.
But now, Pandemic Parenting has nearly broken me.
At first, I was rolling with it. We made forts, embraced wacky hair colors, and did every craft kit we had overlooked over the last decade. We set up desks for learning at home and got chores sorted out. I knew everyone being home would mean more messes and dishes than before – I wasn’t dealing with that on my own. It was fun organizing our new life and we were all leaning in to make something scary feel fully liveable. I was a pro, remember?
Nearly a year later, I am a shell of the mom I was before.
There used to be less screen times and more outside time, but those plans have both fallen to the wayside. They can facetime with their friends even when they cannot be near them right now and those interactions are more important to us right now.
We played more games and watched less tv, but we all just want to be distracted from the crazy world right now. The family that binges together will stay together. At least that’s what I’m telling me.
Now, I am keeping track of more than I could imagine
What days do I go into my office this week? What days will the kids be in school or online? Who has virtual therapy? When is the dance class zoom call and the guitar lesson zoom call. Is the laptop battery charging? When can we play the church YouTube video sermon? When is the last time everyone showered? Do we have toilet paper and sanitizer?
I’m struggling to keep up tracking online dr. appointments, requirements to go into the dentist, trying to support restaurants with take out, and keep my own career going – among hundreds of other things.
We’re all in this together.
I know, I’m not the only one struggling with this. We all are. Maybe we can all agree there isn’t one right or wrong way to get through this. Let’s be real: we’re all operating in a survival mode we’ve never known. Our mothers and grandmothers never knew anything like this. Our great grandmothers were likely kids or teens the last time. Let that sink in for a minute. If you thought you had nothing in common with your Great-great grandmother, think again.
If we keep doing things right, hopefully our daughters and granddaughters (and beyond) won’t need to tread into this realm of parenting. Their parenting might be better for all the weirdness we are going through now. Perhaps they’ll roll with changes easier and give themselves a little grace if they have an “off day” as a mom. I’m struggling to do that for myself now after a year of practice.
Best of all, maybe they’ll see we’re all doing our best. Every family has the same end goal but will go about reaching it in their own way. That doesn’t mean one way is right and another is wrong. In the end, all that matters is everyone is loved, happy, and cared for. Before the pandemic, I think we can all agree mom-shaming was a real thing. It still rears its head on my news feeds as people debate vaccines and masks. We should all be kicking back on a zoom happy hour to celebrate our little wins and cheer each other on throughout these weird days.
Maybe our kids will do better. Over time they may come to see how we shifted our lives and still came out on top. It’s possible we can do the same now and come out of this with more grace for everyone around us (including ourselves). We’ve done so many other hard things this year – what’s one more? Pandemic parenting can be the start of a wonderful shift in our world.