Parents, it’s May 2021.
We’ve made it through 14 months of a pandemic. Do you remember last summer? We literally made it through wildfires, social unrest, and a crazy election. We are rock stars. Then there is school. Our children spent A YEAR in online learning. We spent A YEAR being a parent AND a teacher.
We are tired, AND we are rock stars.
And now we have hope. People are getting vaccinated. Masks are coming off, America is opening up. Schools are opening up. No matter what side of the fence you are on as far as schools opening, your family has likely faced a few transitions around academics.
Transitions, good or bad, are difficult and can create turmoil for our children.
So how do we make it through this (hopefully) last push? How do we support our kids, keep our stress levels down, and still communicate our boundaries and expectations to our children?
WE HAVE TO FOCUS.
We focus. It’s all about preferences vs. convictions. Some people call it “choose your battles.” It’s worth it to take a look at what is important to you as a parent and determine what you aren’t willing to budge on right now and where you are willing to give a little.
Because we all (kids and adults) need a little grace right now.
A preference is something we would very much like to happen. In a normal year, your kids might have a strict schedule and bedtime. You might ensure that they have healthy meals planned out three times a day. You might enjoy dropping off your kids at school and picking them up in the afternoon. And in a normal year, these things might come easy to you and almost seem like they have to happen - but this isn’t a normal year.
A conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion. These are things we aren’t willing to budge on. These are things like, how much COVID exposure your family is willing to assume and whether or not your child attends school in person or online. What friends’ houses your children can visit during a pandemic. The health, well being, and safety of your family - something that many of us took for granted in prior years. And now our brains have had to make space for these thoughts. It’s put many of us in a trauma response, because our safety feels threatened.
The world has been out of control over the last 14 months and as a result many of us adults are grasping for what we can control. In parenting, this might come off as trying to control your children and your household. The funny thing is that the more we try to control, the more control we lose. Our children are doing the same thing - trying to gain control, because their world has also been out of control for the last 14 months. So what preferences can you let go so that you can focus on what matters most?
Let’s take a look at your expectations.
Determine what expectations you have that are convictions so that you can clearly communicate them to your children. Every family has been affected by this pandemic, but every family has experienced it in a different way. Thus, the way we navigate through it may look different in every household. You may be able to give a little on bed times this year, because your children are doing well with online learning and don’t have to log into their first class until 9:15 AM. Or you may have a child that requires a lot of sleep and needs to be up and out the door by 7:30 AM, so bedtime is non-negotiable at your house.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of parenting through a pandemic, it’s important to focus on what’s important. Know your preferences and your convictions as a parent and a family. Set clear expectations for yourself and your children - while being gentle, because let’s face it - we’ve all been through one heck of a year. We are almost on the other side of this chapter. Put your focus on the expectations that matter most for your family to function and run smoothly and allow yourself and your family some grace where you can because we are almost there.
Lowering our expectations could really help the Superheroes and Rockstars in our lives right now.
by Carrie Pipkin LMHC &
Cary Hamilton LMHC