How To Handle The Relentlessness Of Parenting In The Coronavirus Pandemic

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How Parents Can Stay Calm & Sane During Coronavirus
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What is it truly like to parent during coronavirus?

As a therapist, business owner, and mom, I've reflected often on the relentless nature of modern parenting.

The standards and ideals many parents hold very dear and genuinely feel are important are challenging in our typical lives. Now, we have the challenge of living during a global pandemic.

COVID-19 is placing an unreasonable amount of pressure on parents, particularly working parents and parents of kids who are not entirely independent.

We are also getting mixed signals and different information on how to handle this.

Do we need to become even more efficient and get even less sleep just to tackle everything we need to get done? Do we need more color-coded charts, perhaps?

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Relax your expectations. 

I believe that we will likely need to relax our expectations of ourselves in order to survive this situation as well as we can.

We are not going to be able to meet every deliverable at work, be our best parenting selves 24 hours a day, and have our lives look up to our ideal standards — whatever that might be for you.

Without the government stepping in and providing more relief to parents, this is an unsustainable situation for most of us.

While we might be able to do it for a short period of time, when we start talking about many many more months, parents may start wondering what in the world are they going to do?

The choices many of them are facing are pretty grim as none of them feel like the "right" thing to do.

Many of us have the privilege that we have not had to face a list of terrible options but are the only things we can do in a given situation.

What a rude awakening we are having!

If you're a parent, you may be asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I send my medically fragile child back to daycare so I can get work done?
  • Do I involve other family members and risk exposing them to coronavirus so that I can get work done?
  • Do I take a leave of absence from work?
  • Do I just not get my work done even though that places my job/career at risk and I clearly have bills to pay?
  • Do I just give up and let my kids watch TV all day?
  • Do I stop paying my bills so I can hire a babysitter?
  • Do we crowdsource and share childcare with other families?

Additionally, parents are feeling mixed about almost any choice they make.

When all of the choices have very clear negatives and not one is guaranteed to be better, easier, or manageable, it puts them in an uncomfortable position.

We cannot do it all. 

Often, I would say we are faced in the most direct way possible with the truth that we cannot do it all. Definitely not right now, and most likely not ever because the standards have always been unrealistic.

However, in order to cope and survive, families have to lower their bars even more, which is uncomfortable, particularly for those of us who are perfectionistic and already felt that we were not entirely doing things in an "ideal" manner.

Parents, you need to know that you are not alone.

So many of the parents I speak to feel like they are the only ones struggling. I am here to tell you that you are not. This is really hard, and most parents are really having a hard time.

The way you cope is going to need a dramatic overhaul in the coming weeks. It is likely not going to be good enough to just take five minutes a day for yourself or to throw yourself even more into color-coded charts.

You need to take some deep looks at your life, values, and priorities in order to make some really tough decisions.

While there are certainly no quick fixes — and often, there are no "right," "perfect," or even "good enough" answers — we need to work on how we relate to ourselves through this situation.

The kinder, more compassionate, and gentler we can be with ourselves, the better things will be.

While you may not be able to solve all the challenges your family is facing, you can work on some self-compassion.

RELATED: 7 Tips For Parenting Teens Stuck At Home During COVID-19

Here are 3 ways you can stay calm and sane during this time of the coronavirus.

1. Daily affirmations.

Practice talking to yourself as you would to a loved one. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and that you will get through this somehow.

This is a season of our lives that will not last forever.

2. Gratitude.

Whatever it is, practicing gratitude for the small wins or positives in your life will help.

3. Journal.

Letting yourself acknowledge the challenges you are having and how you are feeling is powerful in feeling less confused or conflicted about what you are feeling.

This can help you cope and feel less stressed.

In times of transition and change, the most important thing for all of us is to try to be flexible and understanding with ourselves. We need to re-define our parenting ideals and make it okay for parents to be imperfect and to have that be okay.

I always tell clients that "perfect" parents are not welcome or even helpful for kids.

Kids and teens need us to be imperfect and to show them how to relate to our challenges and mistakes with compassion so that they can do the same.

If you are struggling to communicate the way you want with your child or maybe you are losing your patience, being inconsistent, or whatever other "parenting no-no" you are having — work on repairing with them and with yourself.

Talk to them and let them know you love them and are trying your best.

Most of all, hang in there parents. This is really hard and there is a crazy amount of pressure on us these days.

Let’s not add to it ourselves with even more expectations!

RELATED: 5 Ways Parents Can Build Emotional Intelligence & Resilience In Kids Right Now

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Erica Wollerman is a licensed clinical psychologist who has held a passion for helping people since beginning her career in psychology in 2006. If you would like to read more about her work, check out Thrive Therapy Studio.

This article was originally published at Thrive Therapy Studio. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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