We are now approaching 1 month of stay-at-home orders and the novelty is starting to wear off. Many parents are being thrust into an uncomfortable role of caregiver, head chef, and school teacher. If you are reading this blog you are likely a single parent, and you may be losing your marbles.
I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have formal training for any of these roles. But…I do have extensive training as a Life Coach so I want to share a few pearls to help you manage your mind through these challenges.
Decide your Priorities and Lock it Down
Yesterday I spoke to a coaching buddy in California who has decided she does not want to follow the intensive school curriculum being emailed from her charter school for her 5 kids. She just does not want to endure the opposition and stress that she believes this will cause. She has instead decided how she wants to home-school her kids in a way that will be most peaceful. She has chosen to prioritize her relationship with her kids over their academic achievement. The principal told her she would have to un-enroll the kids. And guess what? She did.
You get to decide how you want to spend your time during the pandemic. What are your priorities?
- enjoying time as a family?
- maintaining a great relationship with your kids?
- keeping kids on the school curriculum?
- building a website?
- practicing yoga daily?
Know that you have a finite amount of productive hours with your kids and by yourself. Decide how you want to spend them in advance and then stop thinking about it. Be reasonable with your goals and stick to them. Avoid social comparisons, or second guessing your decisions. Whatever you decide for yourself and your kids is perfect. How do I know? Because I have chosen to believe that, and you can too.
No Shame in Outsourcing
I will brag here – this has always been one of my strengths. I single-handedly raised a son on the Autism Spectrum to become a pretty amazing young man. In doing so, I employed a village. There is no shame in that, unless you think it is wrong. I choose to think it is right.
If there is a task that you hate doing that has made it to your top priorities, such as 30 minutes of math every day, perhaps you can employ google to help. There are many online sources that can ease your burden.
No beating yourself up
Let’s just make this a rule here in this forum. Under no circumstances are you to beat yourself up over anything that you have said or done. There is simply no merit to doing so. No upside. None!
Many people believe they will do better if they are hard on themselves, but let me tell you, it is exactly the opposite. You will never take amazing action from a feelings of disappointment or incompetence. You will always behave better from feelings of courage, commitment and excitement.
In other words, you will not be a better parent if you tell yourself you suck. You will not loose weight if you tell yourself you are fat and disgusting. You will not quit drinking if you tell yourself you are a failure. Sustained change will never come from beating yourself up.
Lower the boom. Tell your inner critic that s(he) is fired. Every time s(he) speaks in a negative tone, and I promise this will happen lots because we all have this habit, just remind her that her opinion is noted and discarded.
You can’t make your kids happy
That is their job.
I know…this is a tough pill to swallow and that is why I left it for the very end.
What causes your children’s feelings? Here’s a hint: it’s not you. It is always their thoughts. Now, they may have thoughts about you and your actions or behaviours BUT that is totally on them. All of their thoughts are optional and they are in charge.
Release the impossible dream of keeping your kids happy. Instead, help them understand that life is 50/50 and half the time they may feel amazing and the other half like ass. I wrote about this several months ago here. It’s that way for all of us, and it is a beautiful thing, as it gives us contrast. It is hard to know joy without knowing pain.
This is an ideal time for your kids to learn to name their feelings, and encourage them to describe them. It is totally okay for them to feel anxiety, and restlessness. What an amazing opportunity to develop the skill of accepting these emotions and learning that they are normal. It is a particularly unique opportunity to learn about uncertainty without trying to fix it. These are some awesome tools that can now be part of your curriculum.
It is hard to gain perspective when you are in your own vortex. My job as a life coach is to show clients love, hold space for you, and show you how your thoughts are affecting your reality. Please reach out if I can help you through this challenging time.