Parenting is hard enough as it is, but throw in a global crisis and quarantine and it’s a whole other beast. No school or extracurricular activities. No daycare or playdates. Your whole routine is completely thrown off and your world is turned upside down. Your kids are anxious and unsettled, you are trying to figure out how to juggle the new normal and your patience is running low.
Luckily, you’re not alone. This is an uphill battle that we are all fighting, and you’re doing great. Here are five small things you can do to make parenting during quarantine a little less stressful.
1) Have a Routine, but Expect Interruptions
Parenting during quarantine can be overwhelming, to say the least. Having structure and a routine for your kids can make it feel more manageable. Start with a morning routine. Try to mimic the routine of their typical school day: set the alarm, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and hair, etc.
You can even type up the schedule and put it on the fridge or in their bathroom where they can regularly see it. Make a game of it with small rewards for each task done, or compete to see who can get their list done first. Have a structure, but try to make it relaxed and fun! The more the kids feel that it is a chore the less they will be willing to follow along.
Finally, with all the structure and routine, be flexible, and anticipate interruptions. A schedule is great, but the reality is that things are not always going to go as planned. Parenting is messy, and that’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your day doesn’t go exactly as you planned. Don’t get so caught up in the planning of the day that you forget to enjoy the moments of spontaneity throughout.
Getting a morning routine in place will help to alleviate any anxiety the children are feeling, it will bring some normalcy back to their lives and assure them that things are going to be okay.
2) Sorry to Say It, but You’ve Got to Get Rid of the Pajamas
Probably the most important part of any morning routine is getting out of those pajamas! Make an effort to get up, get dressed, and get yourself ready for the day. Have your kids help pick out their “school clothes”. This helps set the tone for the day, pajamas are for sleeping and school clothes are for learning!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to dress up for a night out on the town or get in your best business casual outfit. Not even a full face of make-up (I mean come on, let’s not get crazy here). Just jeans, a t-shirt, and a pony-tail. Just something OTHER than your pajamas, it will make you feel better and more productive. It’s a thing. Trust me.
3) Highs, Lows, and Way To Go’s
Have a daily check-in with your partner and kids, how are they doing? What’s new? One of my favorite ways to do this is by playing a game called Highs, Lows, and Way-to-go’s.
Each day as part of your routine take a minute and share your highs, lows, and way-to-go’s of the day. What has been a highlight of the day? What has been a low point? What is something that you accomplished today?
Daily check-ins like this might feel cheesy (and they kind of are if we’re being honest), BUT they do make a difference. It helps to get a pulse on how everyone is doing, as well as give you all a chance to provide support and validation along the way.
4) Not All Advice is Helpful
I can’t be the only one that is overwhelmed by the fact that everything I read and see on social media is about the quarantine now. Every. Single. One. (she says as she writes an article about the quarantine…) Anyways, I think it’s safe to say that we are all at risk for information overload.
You read an article that said you should be wearing a mask AND gloves when going out. But another article just said that masks and gloves are ineffective. Your old friend from high school who is now a doctor just posted about the seriousness of the virus and how important social distancing is. But your super knowledgeable know-it-all coworker from three years ago posted that this is all a government conspiracy to gain more control and draw our attention away during an election year. You get my point.
After a while, you just don’t know what to believe, and you are going to drive yourself crazy trying to please everyone. Gather information from trusted sources, decide what is best for your family, and just do your thing. Turn off social media, don’t listen to everything your judgy neighbor says, and you do you.
5) Self-Care is Self-Love
So you’ve got your routine, you are checking in daily with your kids, and you feel that you’ve mastered how to filter out all the negative vibes on your social media. You are doing your best, but sometimes it’s still a struggle. There are times that your kids don’t follow your routine, you all spent the day in your pajamas and watched TV while eating cereal for dinner. You didn’t have the patience to help your kids with their online schoolwork today. And sometimes all of this “quality time” with your kids doesn’t necessarily feel like a good thing. Guess what? That’s okay.
Take this time to practice some self-love, allow yourself to make mistakes.
There are lots of articles on self-care, ideas for homemade bath bombs, and Groupons for a massage. All of those things are nice, but self-care is more than pedicures and spa days. A critical part of self-care is also self-love. Give yourself the same care and kindness that you would a close friend or family member. Be patient with yourself and celebrate your small victories along the way.
Allow Yourself to Be Imperfect, You are Doing Better Than You Think You Are
All of the above tips are important and helpful, but if nothing else the most important thing to remember is that you are human. These times are unprecedented and we are all trying to adjust. Allow for mistakes and imperfections, because you are doing better than you think you are.