May 15, 2020

You be you.

Two months into this new reality and it has become more and more clear that there will not be a return to “normal.” Life as it was has changed. Some of those changes have been really stressful and overwhelming; some, not so much. What we know is that we are ALL going through it together.

What this doesn’t mean is that our experience of the pandemic is the same. I saw somewhere the statement that “we are all in the same storm, but in different boats.” Our living situations are all different, our family situations are different and our employment/non-employment situations are different. I’m using “employment” as opposed to “work” because, let’s face it, we are all learning what being a “stay-at-home” parent involves and it is WORK.

While some states are opening up, it is unclear how that will play out and I for one appreciate that CT is opening slowly and deliberately with much thought and attention to science. That being said I’m as frustrated as the next person that I can’t get my haircut or go to a movie or a concert. While there are simply things we can’t do, there is a lot we CAN do as long as we take proper precautions to protect each other.

One of the struggles I see now, and this is from the perspective of an empty-nest parent is that, much like the endless choices of activities and programs could be overwhelming pre-pandemic, there are now endless choices online. In the rush to make sure that children have all the resources they need to continue learning and playing at home, providers have rolled out endless programs, classes, and activities, paid and free.

At the same time, with school moving on-line, work moving on-line, socializing moving on-line, many of us are DONE. Just like you needed to pick and choose what to sign your child up for out in the world, you need to pick and choose what to sign them up for online.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to do any of it. If all you do is help your child get some schoolwork done before they go play, that’s a win. If they stay up late and sleep in because that’s how your life works right now, that’s ok. If you have cereal for dinner or pizza for breakfast, that’s ok. If you stay in your pajama’s (or your kids do) everyday, that’s ok.  

We don’t know what the near future will bring. What we do know is that children and families need to be fed, be sheltered, feel safe, and navigate the new normal together. Each of us in our own boat will find our own “normal.” If ideas and programs are helpful, use them. If they are overwhelming, ignore them. If you have to choose between fighting with your child over a school assignment and maintaining your relationship, maintain the relationship. Be clear about who is responsible for what and then take care of what you are responsible for.

Let go of expectations of learning a new skill, creating fun projects with recycling, photo-documenting your family’s covid-journey, unless it is fun for you.

You be you. Let the others living with you be their authentic selves and ignore anything that suggests you’re not weathering this pandemic “storm” right. If your boat is staying afloat, and your passengers are fed, healthy and safe, you’re doing just fine. If your boat starts to sink, reach out for help – someone nearby will throw out a life boat cause we’re all in the storm together.