Superhero parents – rethinking parenting in the time of Coronavirus

You are not a superhero. Albeit, you sometimes feel like one with how quickly you can switch from making a snack for your 3-year-old then getting right back to the zoom call with your team.

Everyone’s life has been turned upside down with the storm that is COVID-19. Months ago, you, your partner, and your kids all got a break from one another. The babysitter or daycare provider would take a shift providing all of the attention your little ones demand. Now, things are different. Your partner, your children; they are always there.

Before this, your family had a routine. It is hard raising kids and working a full-time job. To do both well requires discipline, routine, and maybe an occasional glass of wine, but it is doable. Now, you have two full-time jobs without the assistance of a daycare or babysitter and the juggling act is tough. If it had only been a month, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, but here we are working on the second month without knowing when the end might come.

This will pass. In the meantime, let’s talk some strategies to make it more survivable.

1. Be easy on yourself. It can be exhausting just trying to be a full-time parent and now you are doing that and trying to keep up with work and be a loving partner. Before, you tried your best to follow your pediatrician’s advice and only let Tommy have one hour of screen time each day. It is okay if he watches TV a bit longer or spends a couple more hours on the tablet on occasion. You might miss a couple of deadlines at work and you and your partner might have a few more arguments than usual. It is okay. Once this all passes, you will be able to get back into your old routine, but for now, the goal is to keep the house of cards from falling and that may mean your focus is on survival now. Later we can focus on thriving again.

2. Work with your partner. Sit down and work out a schedule on how to make this work. Include when each of you gets uninterrupted work time, who is making meals, and how you are going to give each other breaks. You may not be able to go anywhere, and the breaks may be short lived, but you can take a short walk or a bath while your partner takes on parenting duties for a little bit.

3. Practice patience with your children. Try and understand that while this is different for you, it is also different for your child. They had a routine and now everything has been changed for them, too. They don’t get to see their favorite teacher, or babysitter, or their friends anymore and emotionally that can be hard for someone so young. Try and remind yourself to be patient with them as they feel the stress and grieve the loss of their daycare/preschool family.

4. An opportunity for connection. While this time can be hard, also try and look at the opportunity. You have time like never before to connect with your kids. Sit, play with them, and find fun things that will stay in their memories. Rather than remembering the times they were stuck in the house all day, maybe they will remember and tell the story about the time they made a blanket fort with dad, made puppets and put on a show, or when they got into a finger paint fight with mom. Who knows, you might have some fun along the way.

In all honesty, you are a superhero. You have managed to keep yourself, your job, your relationship, and your kid(s) alive through all of this. In the end, this will be a story you tell, but for now remember this will pass and there will be normal again.