Parenting During Coronavirus: You Are Enough
Written by Rebecca Parlakian, Senior Director of Programs at ZERO TO THREE
When I called a friend to tell her how I was failing at enrichment activities for the kids recently — there’s been lots of screen time and maybe some stress eating — she interrupted me and said: You are enough.
I’m grateful for all the guidance on daily learning schedules, at-home science experiments, parent-led learning activities and online tours of the world’s museums. I love all those resources, really. But if I’m honest, they are also seriously stressing me out.
The expectations for being “perfect” during quarantine can add up. The best thing we can do right now is give ourselves what our friends offer us so willingly — the reminder that we are enough. That means you’re allowed to go a full day without a STEM experiment. You get to skip sentences while reading (super long) children’s books. You can hide the finger paint or tell your child that it dried up.
You’re also allowed to go easy on the rules. Have a picnic on the living room floor. Let the toys take over the house. Gather up your little people to snuggle and look at family pictures. Switch up your schedule if you feel like it. (Parent hack from the front lines: Try an afternoon bath-time. Turn down the lights and make it cozy. It’ll be relaxing for you and help the kids drop off into a solid nap afterward.)
And — you’re allowed to feel a little stir-crazy right now. Families weren’t made to live alone, with no social interaction and support. Tired of playing with plastic food? That’s okay! Sick of fights about who got there first, whose turn it is and who pushed who? Of course you are! Tired of picky eating, weird changes to sleep schedules and passionate demands for band-aids? Mmmm, yes. Even great parents get burned out, and it’s okay to acknowledge the hard moments. Parenthood isn’t a sprint to find who’s the best at cutting sandwiches into shapes. Parenting is a marathon where you sometimes hit Mile 12 and are like, why did I do this again?
I’ve never parented through a pandemic before, but I do know that when everything is crazy on the outside, children need love on the inside. The truth is that your child will probably remember little, if anything, about COVID-19 and this extra time at home. But the moments you carve out during the day to connect and cuddle are just what they need right now. The everyday stories, songs and routines you share are exactly the right stuff to help them feel safe, secure and loved. So, drop that load of expectations and take a deep breath. From one friend to another: You are enough.