The Best Social Distancing Self-Care During the Coronavirus Crisis Is to Lower Your Parenting Expectations

These are not normal times. In times like these, you have permission to go easy on yourself.

Being a parent is hard even during normal times, but being a parent during these times— times of stress and change and isolation from the coronavirus pandemic—is beyond comparison. We always want to do the very best for our kids and usually, that means helping them with homework, driving them to after-school practices, and hanging out as a family on the weekends—normal stuff.

But these are not normal times. We're working from home, we're trying to do school, we're glued to the news, we're isolated from friends and loved ones. And above all, we're trying to maintain a semblance of normal for our kids because we don't want them experiencing the same kind of dread and anxiety that we're experiencing. So we're pulling out the craft kits and searching for indoor activities to keep them occupied. We're spending every minute of every day with our children while worrying about what the world will be like next month. It's ... a lot.

So, please, parents, don't add to it.

Now is not the time to obsess over an Instagram perfect life. Now is not the time to follow an unrealistic homeschool schedule or feel like you have to do 800 crafts with your kids every day. Now is the time for just getting by.

Now is the time for screens and snacks and not worrying if your kids are bored.

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We're all finding our new normal. Working from home with kids in the house is never easy, but transitioning to being all together, all the time, while also trying to work with kids around means you need to be willing to let some of your perfectionist tendencies go. Just let 'em go.

Let your kids stay in their pajamas, don't stress about their screens or video games, make that PB&J sandwich and toss some baby carrots on the plate. They'll be fine. And lowering your parenting bar will mean you'll be closer to fine, too.

It's hard to focus on caring for ourselves when the whole world is topsy-turvy. We feel like we have to perform at 150 percent in our work from home, lest our bosses think we're laying on the sofa eating chips and watching Netflix. We feel like we have to perform 150 percent in our parenting because we want our children to not only be not freaked out, but to also be enriched.

But in times like these, you have permission to go easy on yourself. Your bosses will understand and your kids likely won't even care. All they want to do is play Minecraft or Fortnite anyway, so let them. Sure, you might need to step in and break the pattern if this thing draws out much longer, but for now, for the settling in period, as long as there's at least a basic attempt at the huge schoolwork packet that got sent home, you're doing great!

This isn't to say that learning isn't important. Of course it is! But for a few days, a week, it's fine—FINE—to let it slide. You don't have to do everything perfectly. Heck, you don't even have to do everything well. Just keep waking up in the morning, keep taking deep breaths, keep giving them PB&J and baby carrots, and you'll all be OK. We'll get through this, but not by killing ourselves trying to do everything or fill in all the gaps. Do what you can when you can, and as this new normal becomes a little more normal, add in some more. Baby steps and lower expectations. Be kind to yourselves, parents. It'll get better!

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