We basically all have a PhD in Pandemic Parenting at this point. Right? Every mom or dad or any-gender parent has had to learn so much in 2020 — about time management, health and safety, homeschooling, pod-schooling, quaran-cations, you name it. And honestly, we’re all still learning every day — and still making a ton of mistakes and often feeling like we’re failing. But guess what? We’re not! We parents are not the failures; it’s the system that has failed us. After all, how can any human be expected to be a full-time worker, full-time teacher, full-time parent/chef/house cleaner/baby-butt-wiper — all without leaving our homes or losing our jobs or giving up and letting our kids watch TV all day? (Spoiler: It’s impossible).
If you, too, are trying to do the impossible every day this year, we know just how much stress you’re under. Because we’re under it, too. The good thing about all parents struggling at the same time is that we’re all developing our own personal pandemic parenting hacks and tips that get us through the day — and maybe even make things fun (sometimes). So we chatted with 10 moms to ask: What’s the #1 pandemic hack that’s keeping your family afloat? Here’s what they said.
“Be flexible and don’t take everything so serious right now,” urges Tabitha Hawkins of Motherhood & Chaos. “We need to be our children’s safe place, and that’s the only thing we can control right now. Take a deep breath, and snuggle. Love is what we all need most right now — especially our children.”
“Not only am I the only parent home right now with both of my girls (3 years old and 1 year old), I also work full time from home and I am in graduate school, so I am juggling between all of them,” Cheeia of Notes By Cheeia tells SheKnows. How is she hacking it? “Be alone,” she explains. “The stuff that goes on at home, you will figure it out — but don’t forget to take time for yourself. The minute my husband gets home from work, I leave my house and go for a long walk by myself! This gives me time to recharge, reflect and just catch up on myself… Regardless of how you do it, give yourself one hour each day to be alone for the sake of your sanity. Take a walk, take a long bath, whatever it is; take care of yourself.”
Nicole Vasco of The Mompreneur found the best way to get through the weird was accepting just how weird it is. “My #1 pandemic parenting tip is understanding, accepting, and fully embracing that the season we are in is not normal,” she tells SheKnows. “As a type-A work from home mom, I like routine and structure, but during this season I’ve had to let go of what I think things should be like and instead take each day for what it is and go with the flow. Sometimes, that looks like my daughter eating ice cream at 10 am or instead of stressing about deadlines, taking the day to be 100% fully present as a mom, and watch Finding Nemo for the 100th time. Pandemic or not, I will never get another chance at raising my girls at this stage of their life and mine, so I do the best I can and have faith that everything and everyone will turn out just fine.”
“My biggest pandemic parenting tip is playing with our children,” Nika Pond of Irie Chic tells SheKnows. “We have all experienced so many changes in our lives that it can feel daunting at times. Whenever I can, I get down on the floor with my son — with his blocks, or monster truck, or whatever the toy is at the moment, and play. It feels great. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a big kid every once in a while?”
“The most important thing to remember during this time,” urges Tanay Howard of Life With Tanay, “is to give everyone grace. The same emotions that you’re feeling during the pandemic, your children are feeling as well; only they have no idea how to process them. Give them grace as they navigate ‘the new normal.’ Give yourself grace parenting, because things are changing every day. Remember the goal of keeping yourself and your family happy and healthy. If you’ve done that at the end of the day, you’ve won.”
“What all kids desperately need is to feel like they are the center of your attention,” Sarah Gallagher of The Days Are Full tells SheKnows. “You, and if you are an only parent, only you, are their world. They need to feel safe and secure, and in order to feel that way, they need to know that they are the most important thing right now. Not their sibling… So, how do you try to circumvent bad behavior from unsettled kids? You try to connect with them as much as possible to make sure their attention well is full. You need to be the proactive one, get them filled to the brim with love before they even realize they are starting to run a little dry. The first place to start is to spend at least 10 minutes, 100% focused on each child. Whatever they want to talk about, or be silly about, or even just to be there in silence with them. Each child, 10 minutes of 100% devotion. Start there.”
“I’m a parent of teenagers, one of whom had to come home from college during the pandemic,” explains Gita of Warrior in the Kitchen. “Our parenting tip is more of a mindset tip. We adopted the mindset that we are not going to take this time for granted. We most likely would not get this kind of time with the kids again, so we decided to cook more together, have sudoku challenges, do crosswords, play outdoor games like Koob and play lots and lots of golf. We wanted to cherish this time with the kids that we were surprisingly gifted.”