Being a mom is challenging in any circumstances — the toughest job you’ll ever love — and you want to do your best for your little ones. But in these extraordinary times, your best might look a little different.
Your child doesn’t need you to be supermom. They don’t need you to plan a different learning activity for every day of the week. And they don’t need to be entertained every minute of the day.
What young children need are moments throughout the day to connect with you. To cuddle up together. To have your full attention for a few minutes. To talk, read and sing. To play together. You are what they need. Just you being you.
From mom and early childhood expert Rebecca Parlakian, writing for PBS Kids for Parents:
“The everyday stories, songs and routines you share are exactly the right stuff to help them feel safe, secure and loved. So, drop that load of expectations and take a deep breath. From one friend to another: You are enough.”
(FTF asked Rebecca for more advice and encouragement for parents.)
Self Care Isn’t Selfish
In addition to giving yourself permission to not be perfect, keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your children. Young kids — even babies — are sensitive to stress in their environment and their caregivers. So making time for things that help you relax and feel better will help you do your best for your kids.
You might not have the luxury of a long walk alone or online yoga. Just being able to take a shower with the door closed or eat dinner while it’s still warm may seem like a victory. Here are a few suggestions for ways to pause and recharge. Whatever works for you, the bottom line is that it’s important to care for yourself, too.
Get some exercise.
Some daily exercise, alone or with your little one in tow, can help clear your mind and lower stress. There are plenty of indoor activities to get your blood pumping, but getting outdoors for a walk, run, bike ride or hike is even better. And even just a few minutes of sunlight and fresh air will do you good.
Connect with friends and family.
Whether by phone or video chat, connecting with other adults whom you love and love you is an important way to lift your spirits and feel more normal. Talking about what you and your kids are going through may be helpful, but you might just want to tune out and share some laughs.
Find some quiet.
Give yourself a break by making time for reading a book, listening to music, meditating, taking a long shower or whatever activity (or non-activity) you find relaxing and lowers your stress. You can tag-team with your co-parent or other caregivers to get some alone time, or take advantage of your child’s naps or after they’ve gone to sleep.
You probably do your best to serve your kids nutritious food and make sure they get enough sleep. These things are just as important for you, too. A healthy diet and a good night’s sleep — at least every once in a while — are important priorities to set for yourself and your family.
Your little ones learn by playing — by themselves, with other children, and with you. Playing with your kids is also a great way for you to tune out the pressure and demands of life for a while and have fun. Things like coloring together or playing with blocks can help you clear your mind and focus on the present, and that lowers stress and anxiety.