Parenting in isolation is proving to be a challenge, especially since the normal places and people we rely on have to stay at a distance. We talked through our stay home schedules, how to avoid feeling the pressure of perfect parenting, and how to divide the load when you’re responsible for all of it.
First things first: We 100% realize that it’s a privilege to be able to stay home. And to those of you on the front lines in health care settings and also to those of you working in grocery stores, pharmacies, food banks, and other essential services, we are SO grateful! There are so many people working so hard, in so many challenging circumstances, and we really want to stress that we are not equating our challenges to those.
All of that being said, being on duty 24/7 for all of the things is so much work. Full stop. There is no relief, no release, no break. There’s no village in person to be able to rely on and we’re expected to do all the things—work, parent, school, activities, clean, cook, laundry, and on and on. It’s really the most intensive parenting that any of us have ever experienced. The greater need of public health is above all of our other needs, but it’s a total shock to the system to be in our new reality.
Tips for Dividing the Labor
Sit down and make a schedule to flesh out when the parent/s need to work, when kids have scheduled things for school or activities, and figure out what your duties are throughout the day. It’s likely you’ll need to adjust this as deadlines and projects come and go, or as you figure out what’s working best for your family.
TIP: My husband and I have a shared google sheet with our schedule so we can easily keep track of who’s on kid duty at any given time during the day. That doesn’t mean we never have to talk about our schedule in the moment (we do), but it helps with expectations at least.
How to Fit in Self-Care
So I’m not going to say that you need to get up earlier or stay up later because you’re likely exhausted. But if that gives you the needed time to yourself, it may be helpful. I find that I need to be up at 5 on weekdays so I can do a little work, drink my tea in silence, and have a little bit of time to myself to orient myself to the day. I have my workouts scheduled into our weekly plan so I can make sure to get a break. Other ideas:
- Plan Zoom meetings with friends each week.
- Take a break during nap time to watch a show you love or to read something for fun. (I realize that’s not possible if you have to work during naps!)
- Alternate weekend mornings with your partner (if you have one) and take some time to yourself in a different part of the house or in your yard or in the bathtub. (I find that by Saturday I just need some space. And anything works!)
- Use screen time to take the time for yourself that you need. (The guidelines aren’t applicable right now as far as I’m concerned!)
It’s Okay Not to Parent Perfectly
With all of the color coded schedules, the thousands of virtual opportunities, and all of the amazing free resources (not to mention actual school materials!), there is so much pressure on every aspect of our days right now. You do not have to do it all ever, but especially now. I am personally ignoring all of the free virtual options because it’s simply too much for my brain to manage. (I mean, I can’t even keep track of what day it is!)