For many of us parents, this time of social distancing and self-quarantine caught us off guard.
Before, we might have had small chunks of time spent at home, like when a child was sick. However, quarantine has more than doubled and even tripled the amount of time that I spend with my children. Back in the good old days in March, my sons would spend over seven hours at school. Once they came home, it would be dinner, homework, chores and some video gaming time. Then it would be off to bed. In reality, we didn’t spend lots of time together.
Now with concentrated togetherness, work from home and virtual school, I am starting to see parts of them that I didn’t know existed. (Some of those traits remind me of me.) I am starting to have all these doubts and questions creeping in:
- Am I doing this right?
- What am I doing wrong?
- Do we have enough (time, money, energy) to do this?
- Do I have what it takes to parent my child?
- Is this really how my child behaves at school?
- Am I ruining their life, education and future?
- In my heart of hearts, I am asking myself: Am I A Bad Parent?
Questioning yourself as a parent can be a GOOD thing! (But be careful!)
When we became parents, we dreamed of our child’s future—what type of schools they would attend, the activities that they would participate in, and the friends they would have. Never in that dream did we consider a “global pandemic” and how it would affect school, interaction with friends, and our family.
I have chosen to view this time as a Reset Button for myself and my family. I haven’t camped out with fear and guilt, but I have been introspective:
- As a family, what are our priorities?
- What can I control and what can I not control?
- When it comes to my children, what type of relationship do I want?
- What does my child need from me as their parent?
Accept that you did the best that you could.
Most of us were not taught how to be teachers. We don’t have medical training. We have never experienced a pandemic that mandated shelter-in-place. This is uncharted territory, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, make it a learning opportunity. Have a family meeting and have a conversation with your children to see how they are doing. Take the emotional temperature of your family. Learn, then let yourself off the hook.
Recognize that there will be a transition out of quarantine.
As we prepare to “re-enter” the world, take some time to process how you have changed as a parent and what you may want to change going forward.
From Guilt to Action
Asking yourself these questions can move you from feeling guilty to taking action:
- Am I confusing being a good parent with being a perfect parent?
- Am I taking care of me to be the best version of myself?
- Is the issue really exhaustion from work, virtual schooling and parenting?
- What are the lessons that I can teach my children during this time?
- Am I the parent that my child needs me to be during this time?
Asking yourself these questions can help you learn from this quarantine time:
- What have I learned from and about my kids?
- How has my family benefitted from this time together?
- What has been a struggle for us?
- How will we as a family be different after the quarantine ends?
- How will I parent differently after quarantine?
It’s always good to be trying to improve as a parent, but it is easy to fall into the perfection trap and end up sitting in feelings of fear and guilt. This doesn’t benefit you or your kids.