First, let’s start with a slow clap. If you’re a parent, and you managed to survive (what I PRAY is) the worst of the pandemic, you deserve a trophy. In fact, you deserve a nap, dessert, and a trophy. Because as novel as the quarantine felt when it started out, it sure wore on most of us by the time it ended.
Working from home sounded great. But when you work from home with kids, it’s not really as convenient as it sounds. Not while you’re on a Zoom call with a three-year-old taking off her pull-up to pee on the (carpeted) floor, an eight-year-old begging you to watch her toe-touch for the billionth time, and a twelve-year-old complaining how bored she is, how you’re the strictest parent on the planet, and how she is SO TIRED OF HER SISTERS.
Or was that just me?
As the world continues to reopen, and with many returning to in-person school for the first time, concerns are likely high. Factor in the vaccination war and the Delta variant, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for anxiety.
The truth is, we are never fully in control of what happens to our children. Barring locking them up and throwing away the key, our kids will engage in lives outside of our home—separate from us and our own lives. They will develop relationships, even opinions and beliefs that may be outside our realm of influence. Before you panic, these are all normal, healthy indicators of growth and independence. But it can also be scary to realize that, when our kids go to school, practice, or club, there’s not much we can do to “protect” them.
Oh, we can vaccinate them. We can mask them. We can put them in full body armor. But we can’t guarantee any outcome when it comes to our children.
That’s why the first thing we all have to do as parents to ease back into in-person events is to embrace acceptance. While all the pressure is on us to take care of our kids, we don’t have all the control required for any guarantees. All you can do is . . . all you can do. At some point, there has to be an internal release of power. An acknowledgement of the truth—we can teach them, we can model it for them, and we can love them, but after that, our kids are ultimately responsible for themselves.
Another way to ease back into a post-Covid world is to seek positivity. If you’re constantly digging for conspiracy theories, a place or person to blame, or reasons to stay afraid, you’re inviting in a pervasively negative mindset. I get it—I like to know the scoop. I want to be informed. But when our data intake begins to outweigh our ability to find joy, it’s a nobody-wins situation. You can be knowledgeable without becoming cynical.
Finally, set your own boundaries without apologies. If you’re okay with a sleepover of six middle schoolers, live it up. If you’d rather your kid wear a mask in all public places, do it. We’re all different people processing through our own experiences and convictions. Of course, we’re all going to react to a pandemic differently. I think the trouble comes in when we fail to give others the space to have opinions that diverge from our own. That’s a lot of thinking for other people, and ultimately, it only serves to drain our own energy.
At the same time, you should feel free to own your choices. I am a firm believer that we’re all wired with a parenting instinct uniquely designed to serve our family. You’re your kid’s parent on purpose. You’ve got exactly what they need, even on the days when you feel otherwise.