A few years ago, I self-published a book: How to Be a Good Mom (Or at Least Not an Epic Failure). It was meant to be sort of tongue-in-cheek, a funny take on my experience raising three kids. In it, I set out the 5 “rules” of parenting (or being a “good mom”):
- Don’t beat yourself up (even when you’re certain you deserve it).
- Laugh a little (or a lot) (and especially at yourself).
- Listen to everything (and hold onto the good stuff).
- Love (even when you don’t like).
- Give it (all) to God.
Since then, the world has turned upside down and we’re all spending A LOT OF TIME with our kids. Granted, mine are older now – 20, 18, and 13 – I can’t imagine parenting toddlers without being able to take them to daycare – but we’re all up in each other’s space ALL THE TIME. I’ve got one going to school on-site, one trying to finish up his senior year as a virtual student, and another who’s doing I-don’t-know-what-right-now (though I think it’s primarily working and listening to Harry Styles). Add to the mix that I’m primarily working remotely now and things in the house are a little crazy.
Every day there’s the constant worry that someone will get sick, get exposed, bring sickness home to grandpa, or some other life-altering thing. Plus, the election (no need to say more).
The past few weeks I’ve been oscillating between being thankful that we’re all still happy and healthy to feeling like I’m completely and utterly (epic-ly) failing at this whole parenting thing. Just when I start to remember the whole “we’re all in this together” speel, I make one kid cry for interrupting me while recording a Zoom lesson, snap at the other for not cleaning up his mess quickly enough, and beg the other to “just stop talking.” As the 13yo put it recently, “Mom’s been having lots of headaches lately.”
Then, the other morning, I heard other parents calling in to a radio station saying the same sorts of things. So, I thought it might be time to offer a few updates to the rules.
6. Accept Help
I haven’t cooked a meal in I-don’t-know-how-long. Pepa (Bryan’s dad) does all the cooking now. And it’s glorious. He’s also the primary grocery-shopper and helps carry the 13yo back-and-forth to school. While the 18yo likes to jab that “Mom doesn’t even cook anymore,” I’ll take it. If you don’t have a Pepa in your household, I’m sorry. But if your kids can dress themselves, they can make themselves food. You don’t have to cook every meal for them.
It’s the same with cleaning. Hire a cleaning lady if you can afford to. I saw someone post in a FB group the other day that a maid is an accommodation for ADHDers. I think it’s a necessary accommodation for moms during a pandemic. We’re blessed to have a lady come in every other week to do things like clean the toilets, mop the floors, etc. Because, otherwise, let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t get done right now. If hiring outside help isn’t in your budget, put your little minions to work. Again, if they can dress themselves, they can help clean up. And if you’ve got babies, well then, mopping just ain’t a priority right now.
7. Protect Your “Me” Time
Do yoga. Take a nap. Take an extra-long shower. Go for a drive down the road. Alone. And do so unashamedly. You can’t pour into others if you’re empty. Take time to recharge your batteries. If your kids are too little to be left unsupervised long enough, then tell their other parent you need a break. If the other parent isn’t in the picture, reach out to a friend/family member. Ask for help. And if someone judges you for needing help, well to heck with them. We all need help sometimes. See above.
So, remember to not beat yourself up. You’re doing your best, or the best you can in an upside-down world. This too shall pass.