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10 Rules of Parenting During a Pandemic


  1. Do not compare yourself to Pinterest Parents. This is our number one rule! You know who we are talking about—the moms and dads that post perfectly coiffed kids sitting at their stylized remote learning desk that looks like it’s straight out of a magazine ad. That is how that parent finds their inner peace—it doesn’t mean that you are somehow “less than” or doing anything wrong. It means, they like organization and decorative set ups and you like whatever your style has developed to become.  You are an equally good parent if your child sits at the kitchen table or on the sofa to attend remote classes. Focus on what makes you feel good and the Pinterest Parent can focus on what he or she needs to do to feel good.
  2. Cut yourself some slack.  Parenting during a pandemic is hard.  So if there is a day when you need to get something done, it’s OK if your child has an all screen day.  It’s just one day of his life.  If your intention was to make a pot roast with all of the fixings for a sit down family dinner, but you ran out of motivation, it’s OK, serve mac and cheese. That’s probably what they want anyways and now you are a superparent in their eyes!  You will have some stellar days as a pandemic parent and you will have some rough days.  It’s OK, the fact that you are taking the time out of your busy life to read this blog proves you are a thoughtful, caring, and mindful parent.  Tomorrow is another day.
  3. Create a routine for your children.  This doesn’t have to be a rigid timeline of the day’s events.  Think about a flow to your day so your brain and theirs can feel more organized.  Most important is to find some time for your children to move their bodies–either inside or outside activity is fine and find a consistent bedtime. Children of all ages benefit from a good night’s sleep and parents benefit from a little “me” time once young children are in bed. The peace parents feel when thier teenagers are finally getting a good night sleep can not be discounted either!
  4. Delegate.  If you have a parenting partner, divide up the household tasks.  If one partner is overseeing remote learning, then the other can oversee homework and dinner.  No partner? Delegate to your children.  You can do this even if you do have a partner.  Children can do a lot more than we think they can.  Assign tasks to your child and think of it as taking one thing off your plate.  A 2 year old can be in charge of feeding the dog.  A 5 year old can set the table.  Older children can help younger children with remote learning.  If they miss a few minutes of their class to set up a zoom, that is OK.  Have them email their teacher and explain. Try to think of responsibilities for your children that will carve a few minutes out of your day here and there.  
  5. Teach your children how not to freak out if they are bored. Tired of the constant drone “I’m bored, what can I do?” (said in a sing-songy whiny voice). It’s maddening for parents because we know they have loads of toys and activities at their fingertips.  Instead of listing the many ideas every time they whine at you, give them an area of the house to go to—-outside, their bedroom, the playroom, etc. Do not list the activities available, just let their imaginations explore the area and figure it out.  Be consistent. Simply state it over and over until they are annoyed and walk away to figure it out on their own.  Don’t worry if they can’t do that right away, you are establishing a new pattern of letting them solve the boredom problem.  Just keep at it and eventually they will figure it out!
  6. Problem solve.  If there is an area of your family life that is consistently falling apart or annoying you to no end, approach it as a solveable problem for the family.  Over dinner one night, present the issue such as,  “I can’t stand it when the clean folded laundry sits in the basket for days and then ends up on the floor.”  Ask the children for ideas and brainstorm together for a solution to this problem.  Not only will this make your life easier one step at a time but it teaches your children two very valuable lessons— to problem solve and to ask for help.
  7. Carve out time for yourself every single day. Ideally, taking a full hour every day would help you feel more peaceful and recharged to tackle the day’s pandemic parenting struggles.  If you cannot spare a full hour because of work, demands, and young children, that’s Ok.  Take 20 minutes, 10 minutes, or even 5.  Dedicating some time to yourself is not only what you deserve, but is a necessary boost your mind and body needs to tackle life’s challenges.  Use your time to exercise, read, take a bath, light a candle or just sit with your eyes closed.  It doesn’t matter how you spend your time, just that you dedicated these moments to yourself.  
  8. Plan family fun time. Pandemic parenting can’t be all stress all the time.  Since you are likely spending more time than ever together as activities and obligations outside the home are less available, try to make a concerted effort to make the most of it.  Plan family meals, games, and let everyone have an opportunity to choose the activity.  This may mean that you are going to sit down and learn all about Minecraft or your nature aversive child may have to endure a family hike.  It’s OK—“forced family fun is still fun!”  😉 Seriously, there may be some grumbling, but there will be laughs and good memories too! Snap a picture of that grumpy face. You will adore that photo later on. 
  9. Acknowledge that right now, you are in survival mode.  You can set the parenting bar a little lower, it’s OK.  It’s not forever and will last only as long as this pandemic is altering our lives. This means if education is a little more lax now, you can rest assured that it will not affect your child’s ability to go to college or hold down a job as an adult.  The teachers will ensure your child is right where she needs to be by year’s end.  You can relax Screentime rules if it means you can be more productive at work and put food on the table. Once you have your traction and life settles down, you can slowly raise the bar higher each week. This pandemic is a snapshot of our lives, not the defining moment. 
  10. Don’t do this alone. The saying “it takes a village” holds true. Teach your children that it is OK to ask for help by showing them how you rely on others.  You can reach out to friends, family members, and neighbors. You can share responsibilities with others by swapping meal nights. Make two pans of lasagna one night and then sit back the next night as your neighbor cooks you dinner. Schedule regular FaceTime calls with grandparents so you can go take that 20 minutes of “me time.” Call a friend and ask for advice.  Sometimes some outside perspective or even some time to vent about the day’s stress is all you need. 







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