By Shula Levin, LCSW-C
In 2017, Professor Robert Kelly became an overnight internet sensation when, in middle of discussing the impeachment of the South Korean president on BBC News, his children barged into his live television interview with little regard for anything but their desire to see their father. The interview went viral, and most of us laughed when we watched it, while slightly cringing and silently thanking our lucky stars that it didn’t happen to us.
Fast forward to March 2020, and occurrences like the one above are considered a normal and expected part of our everyday life while we juggle working from home, maintaining a household, and managing our children’s various schedules and needs amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Being a parent is hard enough. Being an employee is hard enough. Being a parent and an employee at the same time, within the same space, is a juggling act that no one signed up for.
As a therapist during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have continuously heard from parents how difficult it has been to care for their children’s physical, academic, social, and emotional needs, while also managing their own jobs, bosses, co-workers, and personal needs (although who has time to luxuriously drink a coffee these days?).
Parents are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and burnt out, so it’s time we take a moment to remember a few key ideas:
- Turn off the background noise. Whether the background noise is the constant chatter of the news and media, or it’s your social media accounts (where other parents are clearly doing it bigger and better than you), turn it off and allow yourself to be fully present in addressing your and your family’s needs.
- Manage your expectations. No one can be expected to be the perfect (or even semi-perfect) parent, employee, partner, and friend at all times. Remember that “doing your best” looks very different right now than it has in the past. If that means your children miss their virtual cooking class via zoom, and your laundry pile is starting to block the doorway, so be it.
- Practice empathy with yourself and your children. This is an unprecedented and unexpected time for all of us. We can all use an extra dose of empathy, kindness, and compassion. Remember to tell yourself how wonderful you are, just like “BBC Dad”, who has mastered the art of kids crashing meetings since 2017. You got this!
By Shula Levin, LCSW-C is a child and adolescent therapist at Jewish Community Services.
JCS is a comprehensive human services organization providing a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.