As a mother, physician, and entrepreneur, I pride myself on maintaining an elegantly balanced schedule so that I can enjoy my work when in the office, be present with my kids at home, and build my business in my free time.
I thought I had it all figured out—and then the coronavirus pandemic happened.
Suddenly, like many of you, I found my role in my children’s lives expanding to schoolteacher and beyond. Of course, playing all of these roles is no small order! After all, children (and arguably us adults, too) need balance. They need routine and spontaneity, to learn and to have fun, and to be stimulated and to rest.
The thing is, there is no balance during a pandemic.
So how can we, as parents, strive to maintain some sense of normalcy amidst these very abnormal times? Here are four things I want all of us to keep in mind as we navigate parenting during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Put your oxygen mask on first
For parents, prioritizing self-care has become extremely difficult since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. These days, even going to the bathroom alone feels like a luxury.
However, you must try to make some time for yourself. If you can, pencil in some alone time into your day—even if it’s just 10 minutes to relax quietly.
If you can’t carve out alone time, though, show yourself some attention by hydrating first thing in the morning before having coffee or other caffeine. (I love lemon water, which provides a bit of a vitamin C boost)
In the afternoon, try adding a few drops of CBD oil into your afternoon decaf or tea to support your energy yet remain calm if stress starts to set in. These little acts of self-care go a long way on days that you feel pulled in a hundred directions.
2. Give the guilt a break
Though you may be used to managing endless checklists, schedules, and activities, do not expect to maintain that right now—and do not guilt yourself for it.
I you simply don’t have time to build a backyard bird house with your toddler, they also will enjoy reading a short book with you or joining you for a quick stroll. Quality over quantity is key right now—and I promise that the pressure of trying to maintain rigid schedules will only lead to disappointment, feelings of failure, and guilt (which is my greatest enemy).
To shrug off guilt, I give myself credit for spending quality time with my family—and don’t worry too much about whether that time was educational or “perfect.”
In the end, we are all doing our best. Speak to yourself with compassion. Parenting is a challenge, even during “normal” times, so it’s fair to say that parenting during coronavirus is even more complex.
3. Be flexible
Without many parks, gyms, or stores always easily accessible, the lack of routine and structure can make us feel unable to accomplish usual tasks. That’s why, in these difficult times, flexibility is key.
Having flexibility makes it okay to do a workout in the backyard with a milk jug. (Heck, kill two birds with one stone and get your workout in by playing “I Spy” on a jog with your kids.) Flexibility makes it okay to have groceries delivered instead of doing your usual shopping trip. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something different; you may be pleasantly surprised and find a new way of doing things.
4. Remember That You Are RESILIENT
Resilience is knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, barriers, or limited resources. I believe that humans are naturally resilient—and that’s why we will overcome this pandemic.
When I feel beaten down, I think about mothers teaching their preschoolers by day and working their shifts in the hospital at night; I think of small businesses finding innovative ways to keep their employees working and their doors open.
Every little thing we do—from enduring long periods of lockdown, to trying to teach our children online, to working from home, to putting food on the table—is a win. Every little thing is an example of how strong we really are.
When fear threatens to drag you down, give yourself a pat on the back and a pep talk. You’ve got this.
Dr. Jacky is a double board-certified physician with extensive training in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care. Her expertise in Western medicine is complemented by the use of alternative treatments—cannabinoids, in particular. Dr. Jacky believes in feeding the body, mind, and soul in order to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.