COVID-19: Parent to Parent

Help and Hope is sharing real messages from caregivers talking about the stresses and joys of parenting.

“K” is a mom trying to balance parenting, working full time and educating her kindergartner with her second child on the way, all during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here to read her story.

We're now on day 34 of staying home. In case you are counting, that's four weeks and six days. Or 2,937,600 seconds of living and working at home with my family…with no break. We're fortunate – both my husband and I are still employed, but that also means both of us are trying to work full time jobs as if nothing has changed in our world while also raising a five-and-a-half-year-old whose school is also operating virtually each day (and also due with kiddo #2 in a few weeks!) Did I mention that kiddo #1 is having a growth spurt with big emotions happening… and hasn't played in person with another kid since this all started?

Not going to lie, trying to work full time, be responsible for educating a kindergartener, maintaining a home (because meals don't magically make themselves, and where are all these dishes coming from?!), and keeping the stress in check while pregnant, requires more hours in a day than what exists.

Each day, there's yet another email or social media post that gives me resources and links to amazing sites to help create the best schedule for our family or the latest ways to make sure my child doesn't fall behind in development. But what few of those resources recognize is that this isn't working remotely as normal life would be or that this isn't really homeschooling in any definition of the word. This is pure trying to keep up with work during a global pandemic. This is educating through a global crisis.

I'm lucky that my job requires understanding child development and public health response. So I know that when all of the COVID-19 crisis is behind us, we'll all be okay. It's okay that Netflix is helping me balance it all and keep our kiddo content while I'm on the umpteenth work call. It's okay that we don't have a color-coded calendar that is Pinterest worthy, my husband and child will survive. My focus is more on the social-emotional connection that is really needed now: are we spending meaningful time together as a family when we can? How are we as adults coping with stress and creating a space that makes our kiddo know that she is loved, safe, and secure? Are we taking care of ourselves that it doesn't get overwhelming?

This isn't the time to feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses or fall into the mom-shaming guilt trip because you aren't designed to be a homeschool teacher on top of it all--this is the time to focus on what matters, figure out what you need to get through this. When people tell you that this is the “new normal,” it's okay to call shenanigans on that and remind yourself that this is living through a global health crisis that modern history has never known. This isn't normal. And it's okay to not have it all together all the time. Give yourself some grace, find time for yourself, reach out to others for support, and know that as with all things, this crisis will end.

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