And here we are at the end of week seven of social distancing! I don’t know about you but if someone told me at the start of this pandemic that we would be home as long as we have been (and still counting) I would have told you there is no way I could have done it.
Yet here I am doing it, and continuing to do it moving forward.
In my blog post last week, I offered a couple of realizations I had come to about parenting during this time (check out that post here). But I did not really offer too many suggestions about how to handle them.
This week, I wanted to revisit the same points but talk a little more about what we can do to help ourselves feel better about the situation that we are in. We are all dealing with a new normal right now, and while we might not have a lot of the same conveniences we used to, there is still so much we can do to get through.
We Are Not Homeschooling
It is so important that we do not put the pressure on ourselves to meet the same expectations of our kids’ schools. Depending on the age and personality of your individual children, distance learning might be really hard for them.
My kids hate Zoom! Sure, they miss their friends and want to see them, but not through a computer screen. I don’t know how some parents are able to put the meeting on and their young kids keep quiet and engaged. This is not how it works for my kids, and that is OK!
At first, I felt obligated to not only make every Zoom session and virtual learning experience available, but I felt that my kids needed to participate and get something out of it. This was not enjoyable for anyone, and the only thing my kids were getting out of it was frustration.
I still keep track of their sessions, and we try to participate in as many as we can. But if they are not feeling it that day, we skip it. Sometimes I put a session on and they are more interested in doing something else, so I let them.
The bottom line is, you know your kids and what works for them. Keeping connected and learning is important, but so is feeling loved and supported.
I am focusing on the latter.
We’re Not Working From Home
The only thing that has made my kids’ Zoom sessions harder is that both my husband and I are “working from home.” Keeping track of their individual schedules, each of our schedules, and everything else that goes into making it through the day gets very challenging. So we just do our best. We are so lucky and grateful that we still have a two-income household, and just focus on doing what we can to make it work.
Both of us have had kids walk in on meetings and interruptions that would not happen if we were in our office settings. I feel that I am constantly apologizing to my clients for my kids making noise on the other side of the door.
But not once has someone given me a hard time about it. People understand that we are doing something “not normal” and our work environments are not always going to be what we need them to be in order to be our most productive.
And we need to give ourselves this same level of understanding. Again, we just do our best and remind ourselves that things will get back to normal.
We’re Not The Parents We Always Dreamed To Be
While during times like this we may find ourselves not being the parents we want to me, we are being the parents that we need to be.
As I said last week, as long as our kids are loved and their basic needs are met, we are doing our job as parents. It is so easy to be hard on ourselves and compare ourselves to the “picture perfect” parents we see on social media. (Spoiler alert: no one is perfect!) I can promise you those parents who post pictures of their kids sitting perfectly on their Zoom calls also have moments with tantrums and tears.
Sometimes, the best we can do is put on a movie and pray that our children sit quietly through it (or at least part of it!). Give ourselves the space to do things like this without self-judgment will go a long way in helping us continue to be the parents we need to be right now.
We Are Just Surviving
I have noticed that the longer we go in this, it gets both easier in and harder. In some ways, we are getting used to what we have to deal with. We have gotten into a groove with our schedules and learned what works and does not work for our family.
At the same time, we are missing our friends and family and so many of the things we used to enjoy doing. Survival is easier to think about when it is a week or two. But come week seven (and counting), this is a tougher pill to swallow.
With this being said, we have to remember that we are doing this! We are surviving, and that is so important. Try to focus on what is going well, rather than what is not going well.
Perspective is everything, and sometimes a little shift in the way we look at something is all we need to feel better about the situation.
Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/. She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.