One stage of parenting I never thought I would experience was parenting during a pandemic. To say my patience was, and still is, being tested on a daily basis is definitely an understatement.
When it started off as a "couple weeks" thing, there was plenty of motivation involved in that, it will all be over before we knew it. So, we decided to make the best of it.
Energy levels were high and rising.
The crafts were never ending.
The movie nights.
The long walks.
We were on a mission to contain the situation and keep our children feeling safe and unaffected.
But surely not too long after, tempers became short fused. My patience was being tested. Irritation increased. Confusion arose - we no longer knew what to believe.
My parenting strategy unconditionally shifted from "making the best of a tough situation” to "survival mode."
Without me realising, all the pressure I was putting on myself to keep up with what everyone was doing, the pressure of 'the right way to parent during a pandemic' had caught up to me- spoiler alert: there is no right way.
It all came pouring down on me like a heavy waterfall- not the kind that is misty and leaves you refreshed; the kind that leaves you drenched and shivering.
I felt defeated and weak.
Rather than focus on responsible parenting, I found myself feeling inadequate, which only lead to desperation and self-pity. I felt like I was lacking.
Caught between keeping up with what everyone on social media was suggesting- between homeschooling- exercising- getting enough outdoor time- eating healthy- sticking to a bedtime routine- sticking to our “normal” lifestyles.
But nothing about this was normal.
The world was in crisis and we were in survival mode; confused as to what is right and what is wrong. How much is too much, what is not enough?
This was definitely a time of clarification and revelation.
I was trying to focus on responsible parenting so much, that I didn’t notice my children were struggling as well. I forgot to recognize that they too were dealing with emotions much greater than their ability to comprehend.
It was time to focus on what works for me and them, not what was socially acceptable.
I came to the conclusion that, during a pandemic or not, there is no right or wrong way to parent.
Conformity feels very safe and stable, but it keeps us striving for external acceptance, which is a winding road that will keep luring you in, with not sight of an exit.
So much, that we suppress our own traits. My children were in shock and felt trapped. They too, needed to have some leeway while everything was a chaotic mess around them. I needed to let go of the idea that following social norms was the right way to go.
Our children are natural learners and are being taught by the world around them on a daily basis. I want them to feel profound support and I'm ensuring them that their happiness is what truly matters, whether it looks acceptable to the outside world or not.
Whether or not we keep up with all the activities and the homes-schooling schedules, if they feel safe at home when the world is falling apart, I consider that a win.