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When the hospital nurse handed me my newborn, I waited for her to give me a book of instructions. Nothing happened. I was confused. I’d been given so many handouts during my pregnancy that I assumed the knowledge I’d need to parent would be given to me as well. Nope. No handy instructional booklet showed up with my complimentary diaper bag and burp cloths. Parenting did not come with a personalized how-to manual.
Over the last six years, I’ve been compiling my own handbook. I’ve observed that caring for my child is composed of many elements: trusting my instincts, a deep knowledge of my kid’s personality, proven parenting techniques, and sleep deprivation. Guiding my child through the best of times can leave me at a loss for words. Parenting through social distancing, homeschooling, and the uncertainty that’s come with COVID-19 has raised those stakes as exponentially as the spread of the virus. Right now, I’m doing my best to make educated decisions and trust my mothering intuition. Here are three of the biggest lessons I’ve learned parenting through this pandemic.
- Honest Yet Simple Answers For The Win: My son has a built-in lie detector. It could be I’m a terrible liar, but when I evade even the smallest of answers in an effort to protect my little guy, I notice he becomes fearful. His imagination fills in the story gaps and he creates a bigger, darker, scarier scenario. This nervousness manifests in different ways: random meltdowns, unpredictable separation anxiety, or plain hyperactive mood shifts. I’ve learned honest and simple answers work wonders. I’m careful to keep the answers short and age-appropriate so he receives helpful information he can understand. Telling the truth maintains my son’s trust in our relationship.
- Keep Calm And Play On: My husband and I have become our kid’s full-time playmates. We’ve turned off the screens and dusted off great classics like charades, books under the covers with flashlights, sidewalk chalk on the porch, and even our own goofy improvised scenarios. Playing shows my kid that we care. My husband and I are completely focused on him and this boosts his confidence — a much-needed feeling inside when the world keeps shifting outside. I’ve loved every impromptu magic show and old school dance party. Our indoor playtime has been a fun stress release for the whole family. It’s a great way to stay engaged and show my son our totally fresh dance moves in the process.
- Social Distance Keeps Our Family Close: In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep my older family members safe, we started practicing social distancing before #stayathome was trending. This keeps us away from our closest friends and movie matinees, but it has cemented our family bond in a deeper way. Not only have we discovered new ways of spending time together, we’ve also made sure there’s plenty of space to voice our worries. I make sure I’m present for my son by doing daily check-ins and asking him how he’s feeling. This keeps his vulnerability intact throughout this stressful time. Our slowed-down downtime keeps our family’s lines of communication open and our feelings of hopelessness at bay. Maintaining our connection is helping us to go the distance while social distancing.
Keeping an honest attitude while keeping up our connection is what’s bringing my family through this pandemic. We certainly have our moments of frustration, but when I check in with my son, he says he’s feeling “good!” I hope to keep my little guy safe and healthy and all of us feeling just as good.
P.S. A throwback to the way it was before the pandemic. Was this advice you needed too?
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