Last week, I wrote about our family's ideal schedule for this time. I outlined the best-case scheduling for us in this self-quarantine/social distancing time period, given good moods, restful nights, and sunshine (because let's face it: no sun = no energy.)
And then I realized that that was really only Part I of the conversation. Because so often in this journey of social distancing, things do not go as planned. Our kids are tiny little empaths, and their moods reflect our anxieties and worries. I can't be the only one who feels like my kids would rather just climb back into the womb lately. As I write this, one child is hanging onto my arm and pretending to type along with me and the other one is only slightly farther away, temporarily distracted by a school Zoom meeting. We've talked on the pod a few times about our kids being more needy lately, almost like being around us more is making them regress. We put this problem to the listeners and got this helpful article in return about what's going through their heads and how to best help them during this time.
So if you're walking that tough road along with us, you are not alone! I formulated our schedule as a way of surviving social distancing, because my son really prefers to know what's coming and to be on a schedule. But I'm finding that more and more, he's changing with the times. He no longer needs a schedule as long as he knows a general picture of the day. I like to have it to fall back on, so that on the days where we're really on the ball I can direct our time.
But importantly, a big way that I've changed during the quarantine is that my mom-guilt is almost completely gone. If some days my kids have their noses in an ipad for hours, but they're at peace and I'm at peace, I no longer feel badly about that.
And maybe what you need is someone to tell you that you don't need to feel guilty! According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, security and safety are second only to sustenance and rest for humans. So the best thing we can do is keep our kids fed, get them to bed, and make them feel safe and loved. Ideally their education continues, but if you have small kids who are completely reliant on you to educate them in this time, don't beat yourself up if you can't or if it looks differently than you planned! Because the guilt and anxiety that you feel about that will transfer to them, and show up in acting out, temper tantrums, and meltdowns.
I'm not a professional by any means; I'm just a mom. And if you're in the same boat as me, cut yourself some slack, and follow your instincts. You're doing great!
Here are some things I've done that helped to erase my mom-guilt:
-I removed all non-educational apps from our iPads. This way, if they're picking up the tablet, I know they're at least doing something educational. I also took off all streaming services so that they can't sneak in shows without asking. The apps that I've been loving for htem during this time are ABC Mouse and the PBS Kids Games app. (Different from the streaming shows app.)
-I set out vegetables most mornings as a snack. (Again, most is the key word. Not all days are ideal.) I don't ask what they'd like or if they want to eat them, I just put it out. It always gets eaten. It helps to present vegetables in different forms as well to add excitement. Recently I peeled a few carrots and handed them over whole (instead of cutting them up into carrot sticks), and told the kids that they were like little bunnies. I make snack plates with small portions of veggies around something like hummus or yogurt for dipping, and that's become their lunch. That way I feel like they're getting lots of nutrients and the veggies sort of crowd out some of the nagging for snacks.
I also rely quite a bit on documentaries and educational TV, because it truly takes a village to raise kids. And most of us are without our village right now, so we have to compensate somehow. Gordon Ramsay and the Masterchef Junior crowd are big hits around here, and so are the Disney Nature documentaries.
And if all else fails, call your Mom and Dad. It's helpful to get a dose of reality from our parents who overthought things WAY less than we do today. My parents are good for keeping my feet (and expectations) firmly planted in reality.
What are you doing to help yourself and your family through this time? Do you prefer a schedule or do you like to take each day as it comes?
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