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Parenting is hard under the best circumstances, but when you’re faced with parenting during a pandemic, you’ve graduated to the Big Leagues. After all, you’re not only battling your own fears and anxieties, but you’re also trying to help your child navigate the unknown. They’re looking to you for answers, reassurance, and normalcy. And a lot of the time right now, it feels like you have none to give.
So you do what parents have done for millennia. You fake it: “fake it ‘til you make it.” You get your kids through this pandemic one day at a time. Like we said, Big League stuff.
This article provides some parenting survival tips as you paste a smile on your face and navigate your family’s way through this crisis. Believe it or not, this too shall pass, and what your kids will remember most is your steady hand on the wheel.
New Math, Old Problems
One of the biggest challenges parents are facing under lockdown is finding themselves playing the role of teacher as well as parent. To be sure, some of today’s STEM classes can read more like Sanskrit than English. Many of us would sooner divulge any military secrets rather than attempt our kid’s third-grade new math.
You don’t have to turn one of your kid’s textbooks into a secret flask holder just to get through the day’s lessons, though. There are an array of resources you can access online, from video tutorials to live video sessions, to help you and your rugrat learn together.
And if you are one of the millions of parents who are also in school, consider using this to your advantage. Set a good example by doing your own work in front of your child or perhaps even at the same time as your child. Sure, you’re going to have more distractions as you work, but by building your and your child’s schoolwork into your daily routine, it will make it feel more normal and less like a drag for you both.
Custody and COVID
If you are sharing custody of your child with the other parent, it’s imperative to work with the other person to create a plan for keeping your child safe through the pandemic. It’s not only the risk of exposure to the virus that needs to be factored in.
The pandemic is a scary thing for us all. Your child may feel more securing staying in their primary home, rather than shuttling back and forth for visitation. Now, more than ever before, is the time for compromise.
Living under lockdown is stressful. Not only are you deprived of your normal routine, but you’re also stuck in the house, day after day, week after week. You’re doing many of the same things, with the same people. Face it: there’s not much you can do to avoid getting on each others’ nerves at some point. That’s especially true when you have more than one child.
At this point, the relationship between your kids is probably frayed, to say the least. They’re almost certainly fighting like wildcats over every minor infraction, from who stole whose whatever to whose turn it is with the computer to who breathed too loudly.
Just because we’re facing a pandemic and your feel for your kids’ worries doesn’t mean it’s okay to let them get away with murder. Just because your body’s tired and your nerves are stretched thin doesn’t mean you can skimp on discipline.
Our circumstances right now are the perfect recipe for the inmates taking over the asylum. Loosen the reins on discipline a bit from your pre-pandemic habits, but not too much. You and your kids need as much order, calm, and normalcy as possible right now. You will all feel better for it.
There’s no playbook for parenting during a pandemic, and if you’re struggling, remember you are not alone. There are, however, steps you can take to get your children though this unprecedented time while keeping your own sanity intact. If you’re struggling with homeschooling, there are countless terrific online resources. If you’re also in school, make study time something you can do together. If you share custody of your child, know that compromise and flexibility may be required to protect your child, both physically and emotionally. Above all, don’t let discipline fly out the window along with everything else that used to be normal. Now is the time for predictability and stability, even in the face of our “new normal.”
Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, environmental protection, and more. In her off time you can find her in the mountains with her two dogs. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @indianalee3