Parenting During a Pandemic
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Social distancing.
A few weeks ago, these were foreign terms, and likely not words you were discussing with your children. In the blink of an eye, parenting changed and created conversations and home-life situations that no one was prepared for.
Like many of you, I had to struggle to figure it all out. While I am still navigating these choppy waters, there are a few things I have learned that has made life a little easier. Although nothing is perfect right now, I hope some of these lessons learned will help make your day-to-day run a little smoother:
1. Take a deep breath. You may be waking up every morning feeling like it is Groundhog’s Day and the stress hits as soon as you hear your first “Mommmmmmmyyyyyy”, before you’ve even had your first sip of coffee. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and then do it again. And then again. And then one more time. Start your day focused, calm and ready to tackle it all: working, teaching, parenting, and surviving. Deep breaths. You got this!
2. Be flexible and adapt. You don’t have to follow the same school, meals, or even bedtime routine every day. Do what works best for you and your family. Don’t feel like you have to stick with what you “used” to do. We are dealing with a lot of unknowns and uncertainties right now. Times are confusing, but this is our time to be flexible and go with the flow to get through each day.
3. Pick your battles. As Queen Elsa once said, “Let it go.” With everyone on top of each other 24/7, emotions and stressors are high. Set limits and expectations, but be flexible on the rules. If their bed isn’t made or all of their toys aren’t put away, take a deep breath and walk away. There is no sense in fighting and getting frustrated when the mess will be there again tomorrow.
4. Get outside. Go for a walk, take a hike, ride bikes, do a scavenger hunt, blow bubbles, and/or have a picnic in your back yard. While social distancing is closing many local parks and playgrounds, getting outside can be as simple as riding your bike up and down the driveway, or taking a walk around the neighborhood. Make breakfast or lunch time fun and have a picnic. Fresh air is great for the mind, body and soul, and also a perfect way to burn off energy.
5. Screen time. Do not beat yourself up if your child is spending “too much” time in front of a screen right now. In an era of technology, possibilities are endless to keeping everyone connected: video chatting with friends and family, informational videos from zoos and museums all over the country, learning to draw your favorite characters with YouTube videos, and having dance parties with DJ’s steaming family-friendly music. Many sites are posting these videos free or incredibly discounted to make them accessible to as many people as possible. With a quick Google search, the possibilities of education and fun you can bring in through your screen are truly endless. So for now, embrace screen time and find creative ways to use it.
In case you need some inspiration, here are a few virtual learning resources my family is loving right now:
- Cincinnati Zoo home Safari
- Local Homestead, Farm to Film video series
- Maryland Zoo: Live cams & feeds, meet the animals and Q & A’s on their Instagram page
- National Aquarium in Baltimore: Live cams & feeds, meet the animals and Q & A’s on their Instagram page
- Art for Kids Hub: https://www.artforkidshub.com/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/ArtforKidsHub
- Disney Magic, live streaming of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks
- Disney Family singalong Volume II is airing May 10th (Happy Mother’s Day)
- Yoga for Kids: https://www.cosmickids.com/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga
- Yoga for Adults
- American Dairy Association North East
- American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
- PA Friends of Agriculture Foundation
- Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation
6. Homeschool. Many parents found themselves in a position of being an instant teacher and mourned the loss of sending our children to school. The reality is, you are likely not going to be able to fill an entire eight hour school day at home, nor do your children really want that. Many teachers I have spoken to have suggested one to three hours (depending on age) of school time a day. There are many creative ways to embrace school at home:
- Gym class. Get outside, talk a walk or ride a bike. Every hour try and get your kiddos (and you) moving for 10 minutes.
- Art class. Paint rocks, color your driveway with chalk, and learn to draw with YouTube videos.
- Math class. Bake a cake to practice counting and measurements. Go on a scavenger hunt to find various shapes in and around your house. Write math facts in chalk on your driveway.
- Reading. Tape words and sentences all over your house and have your child find them, or blast them with a nerf gun or point to them. Family reading time is also great time to be together and you can also extend the fun with FaceTime and reading a book to family or friends.
- Resources. Between your child’s school, social media, and Google, don’t hesitate to reach out for more resources to help make this transition to home schooling better. Remember something is better than nothing, so do not be too hard on yourself. Children all across the country are all in the same boat. Teachers are amazing and they will pick right back up with your children when they return to the classroom.
7. Quality time for comfort and connection. During this quarantine, perhaps the most important thing we can give our children is quality time for comfort and connection. The novelty of being home from school has likely worn off and your children are really missing their friends, social circle, extracurricular activities, and all the milestones they are missing. Check in with your child to see how they are feeling, if there is anything they need and if you can help them in anyway. Quality time and connecting as family will be a priceless memory that you all will remember from this time.
8. Take care of yourself. In order to take care of your children, you need to take care of yourself. Take a few extra minutes in the shower, enjoy an extra cookie or two (when the kids go to bed of course), read a book and if possible, try and get in some exercise. Parenting 24/7 doesn’t leave much time to yourself, but if you can carve out a few minutes a day for yourself, it will help make you a better parent.
Remember, as a parent during this pandemic, emotions and stress levels are high. There will be ups and downs as you navigate them with your family. There is no rule book on how to parent during a pandemic, so I promise you, whatever you are doing, you are doing right. Take a deep breath, enjoy your time together.