Parenting Lessons From A Pandemic
When we received notice that we were to be sheltering in place for Covid-19, I was almost excited. I am an introvert by nature, and love having my family home with me.
As a stay-at-home mother, I thought I was fully prepared to take on months of my children being home all the time. I planned fun theme nights, where we would watch a movie and eat a meal that went along with it. I ordered art supplies, puzzles and games. I made meal plans and lists. I was even excited to homeschool my kids, making lesson plans beyond what the teachers sent home.
By month two, I was barely hanging on.
No amount of planning and preparations could have prepared me for what we went through. A combination of stress and cabin fever began to settle on our household. Homeschooling stopped being a fun adventure and became a brutal chore. The kids were stir-crazy and fighting, and we — as parents — were at the end of our rope.
And you know what? That’s okay.
We survived the initial stay-at-home period of an unprecedented — and possibly still ongoing — epidemic, and the most important lesson I learned was that it’s okay to not be okay. In fact, it’s normal.
After a while, the mess took over and the dishes piled up. It was all I could do to make it from morning to bedtime without losing it. Sometimes I did lose it, and would go to bed promising myself I would try harder tomorrow. After I’d spoken to some mom friends, I realized we were all just trying to keep our households from falling apart. Sometimes you just have to accept that crisis mode is acceptable, and everything else can wait.
Once I allowed myself to let it go, things seemed to become easier for everyone. We didn’t have to have a plan for every day. Some days, we’d sit in our pajamas all day and eat frozen chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. I have learned to give myself a break. If things get too overwhelming, I tag my husband in and go sit outside and read by myself for an hour.
Whether you’re itching to break free of quarantine or you’re planning to continue hunkering down for awhile, just take a deep breath and tell yourself everything is going to be okay in the end. Remember that as scary as this year has been for you, it’s even scarier for a child who doesn’t understand. It’s completely normal for them to be acting out and going a little stir-crazy themselves. Soon, this will just be another experience you share and can laugh about.
Your children will survive this stressful time…and you will survive your children.
Leslie Chastain lives in the Mississippi Delta with her husband, two kids, and a menagerie of animals.