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Let’s be Real: What’s Really Happening in the Home During COVID

My family is in lockdown. My husband, two teenage daughters, and I are being social distanced, just like you. I’m taking pictures and documenting this time for future reference. When drawing with my daughters, I texted pictures to my friend, showing the art projects we were working on.

She wrote back, “You’re so much fun!” I had to admit that I had been working online for the past eight hours, and this was the only 30-minute session I had spent with my daughters all day. Her response was, “At least you were present for those 30 minutes.”

When I scroll through my social media feeds, it’s very tempting to compare my household and my parenting to snapshots I see on the screen. One friend is creating an obstacle course for her children’s exercise activities. Another is providing her children with 3D projects of grapes and toothpicks. It appears that they are much more present in their parenting than I am. But remember that because households are locked down, we only see what people want us to see.

For instance, my friend recently posted a beautiful picture of her two young children completing an hour-long activity of mosaic rainbows. She documented a peaceful time with her children. When I messaged her, asking what didn’t make it on her social media feed, she replied, “A giant meltdown about brushing teeth this morning. Something we do EVERY SINGLE DAY.”

Provide your family with a measure of grace right now. I asked my daughters to complete a task. While they were completing the task, I heard giggling and screaming. When I checked in, the task was done, but one of the girls was covered head to toe in shaving cream. Never you mind. The task was completed. That’s a win.

Provide yourself with a measure of grace right now. You have never parented in a situation like this. You’re learning. When young children learn something new, they often regress in another area. If children regress, then so can we. I will learn how to work from home while engaging with my children, but there will be more device time than normal. I will learn how to cook new meals with available ingredients, but they may not include the vegetables we’re used to. Are your children fed? That’s a win. Do your children have a home? That’s a win. Do they have a toothbrush? Win!

Do you feel that you only had 30 minutes of successful parenting yesterday? I hope you documented it. Today, maybe you’ll double it and have an hour of effective parenting. Take pictures. Keep track. In completely unchartered waters, you tried, failed, and succeeded. And tomorrow you might have one less failure and one more success. And next year, you’ll look back on your documented successes and be proud that you were present for those times.

Written by: AMY C. JOHNSON, Ph.D. / ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
Ashford University/Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education

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