Here we are, on day 500 billion something of this global COVID pandemic, and I’m ready to start socially distancing from my own family. (Sorry guys, it’s true!)
Here’s the thing — I’m in a season of parenting that is naturally hard. I have three little girls — my oldest sassy-pants is 7, while the little ones are both newly 4 (yep, that’s right… twins!). They are the loves of my life, and I would do absolutely anything for them. But being with them 24/7, all while trying to work myself, homeschool my oldest, keep them off their beloved screens, cook meals, clean up from meals, and provide the endless amount of snacks they demand (seriously, who knew little people could eat so much?!) is exhausting.
I really can’t complain too much because our family has our very own version of Mary Poppins, a child-whisperer nanny who has been with us since the twins were born. She holds “preschool” with the twins in the morning while I run first grade with my 7-year-old. I am always beyond grateful for all her help, but especially right now.
But even so, there are simply a lot of bodies in this house at all times. That’s a lot of energy all balled up together ready to explode at any given moment. My kids, who are used to being in school, having playdates and participating in extracurricular activities, are definitely grating on each other’s nerves. The level of arguing, whining and angry-door slamming has reached unbearable levels, and every room is filled with forts, toys and covered in cookie crumbs (the snacks, remember?). It’s true: we’re living in utter chaos and filth.
Not to mention, trying to meet everyone’s seemingly endless needs — including my own — over the course of our time in isolation has proven exceptionally difficult. Nay — impossible.
So here’s what I’ve come to realize (and this does not go well with my Type-A personality, but I’m learning)… it’s okay to lower the bar. Parenting, working, and generally just surviving life in quarantine doesn’t have to look or be perfect. It just has to be (somewhat) manageable.
That means that if the battle to get my daughter to focus on distance learning one day is too great, perhaps we go outside and observe the sights and sounds of nature instead (hey… that’s science!). Likewise, if the kids’ yelling is too overwhelming and I can’t focus on my work, then maybe it’s time to shut off the computer and engage them in a game of hide-and-seek. And if the kiddos are simply “over” their virtual preschool meetings and Zoom-based dance classes (and ohhhhh they are!), then so be it. We’ll try again the following week (or not).
The point is, it’s okay that we may not all be living up to our normal “parenting standards” (or any standards!) right now; at the end of the day as long as we’re all healthy, fed and generally doing physically and mentally well… that’s a win.
As my first grader’s teacher told us, “…if your children are happy(ish), healthy(ish), fed and taken care of, that’s what matters most. If they learn some things throughout the day, great! But don’t be too hard on yourselves. Just do what works best for your family.”
And so regardless of what stage of parenting you’re in, let’s just all agree to cut ourselves some slack, and know that we’re doing the very best we can in an impossible and highly stressful situation. I see you, parents… and I’m right there with you. Hugs. Here’s to managing life as a “good enough” quarantined parent.
Marissa Bader is a writer and the Twins Editor at Lucie’s List (an amazing resource for expectant and new parents), as well as a mama to a set of twin girls and their big sister. When she’s not kissing owies, playing dress-up, or mediating sister squabbles, she enjoys dancing (you should see her get down when nobody’s watching!), and writing about topics pertaining to mental health, wellness, fitness and parenthood.