How to Parent Through a Pandemic While Letting Go of Perfect

This podcast will focus on coping with the big feelings, worries and “new normal” as a parent during this pandemic. We discuss how to help kids with their big feelings while also dealing with our own. We also talk about anxiety and some strategies to deal with those anxious feelings so that people don’t wind up feeding off each other’s fears and worries. We also talk about what comforts different people during this tough time. Finally, we have a conversation about school work and what we need to hold onto and what we need to let go of while parenting through this pandemic.

Guest Expert: Graeme Seabrook

The pandemic is still going strong and the date to open many states is being pushed out further and further. A few states are starting to open here and there but many parents still feel a lot of anxiety around going back to “normal” even as COVID-19 has claimed over a quarter of a million lives across the world, nearly 100, 000 of them in the US. What’s going on is impacting young children, older children and yes, parents too. Of course, parents too! There are questions of financial issues, emotional issues, mental issues, loneliness, fear, frustration and how we are all going to cope with the day to day as the day to day morphs into months and months. It puts a lot on our shoulders. Let’s not bury it. Let’s discuss it. Time to shine a light on what’s really going on behind closed doors. For this discussion, I’m interviewing Graeme Seabrook.

Graeme Seabrook, The Mom for Moms, is a coach and writer who has been guiding and supporting mothers as they discover and reclaim themselves since 2014. She has worked with over 2500 moms since 2014 and in between clients she reads about moms, writes about moms, speaks about moms, learns from moms, and is a mom of two herself!  Her work springs from the truth that embracing your humanity is a mother’s deepest calling and the very best thing you can do for your family. 

The podcast provides:

  • Ideas for coping with big feelings during the pandemic
  • Advice to parents who are trying to do it all
  • Coping strategies for anxiety during this tough time
  • How to create a comfort kit for each family member
  • How to deal with school work and falling behind

Important Messages:

  • Kids are aching for their friends. Zoom calls are not the same. Just like parents are missing the office. Missing human interaction. “I want to talk to someone I’m not related to.”
  • Feeling lonely even as you are around people in stores.
  • Support system is needed. Notice when someone needs to be with friends- even virtually. State your need- even if it’s not something that can be fulfilled. Spending time with self or driving into the mountains.
  • “Skin hunger.” Need a certain number of hugs per day- and during the pandemic- you aren’t getting them. So seeing someone can be a little painful.
  • Mental health just as important as physical health.
  • Don’t put barriers in front of you- even if you haven’t talked to a person for over a month doesn’t mean that you can’t call them.
  • Anxiety and kids- pandemic can be very triggering for everyone in the family. Then feed off one another.
  • How to deal with anxiety? Get off social media.
  • Social media: Looks like everyone has it perfectly right- has it all together.
  • Downloading games- little moments of escape.
  • Create a comfort kit. Container. Put something in it that brings you joy or is calming. Things that make you laugh. Things that smell good. Snacks. Notes and reminders “your feelings are true and valid.”
  • Hangover after a bad anxiety day. Comfort kit was to shorten that. What can I access right away that I know works? Can leave it open- so it’s accessible always. Cutting down time to access and use it.
  • Think in a time when you are calm- and make a plan- so that when you are anxious and frustrated, you already know what to do to get calm.
  • SCRIPT: Tell your child the truth during the pandemic when it comes to social distancing. “I can’t let you hug him. It’s not safe for him or his family or for you or for our family or our whole community.” Let him throw some rocks and cry.
  • Come up with different alternatives to show love. For example, baking.
  • Choose words that your child can use- give them- to express how frustrating this all is. For example; “sucks.”
  • Everyone is having big feelings right now. Everyone is hurting.
  • Seeing both sides- grandparents, grandchildren, sad to miss each other.
  • IDEA: “Theme Zoom.” Dress up.
  • School: Right now- can be very hard for many kids. Transitional years.
    What about the children who are falling behind? What about the kids who have diagnoses? Not every school district is giving parents and kids what is needed. Some school districts are doing this very well.
  • Make sure that you aren’t so worried about school- but rather, focus on making sure your child is okay.  That he’s okay with failure and dealing with this tough time. Get him through this period in as healthy a way as possible.
  • Suicide rates are going up. Ask yourself; Is it more important for your child to graduate on time or meet whatever milestone they are at or is it more important for your child to be alive in 2 years?
  • Let go of expectations you had during this time.
  • Let your priorities crystalize. What do you really value? What do you want your child to believe and know and think and remember about this time?
  • Cut yourself more slack. Give yourself more leeway. Give yourself grace. Pour it into yourself. Even if it means that your children are watching movies and you are sleeping for 4 days. If you’re not okay, they’re not going to be okay.
  • Might mean short term more screen time, frozen meals. They’ll be okay.
  • I just slept- why do I feel tired? I just read my book and I’m still super frustrated these people are still in my house. The usual might not work in this unusual circumstance- it’s a pandemic!

Notable Quotables:

  • “I don’t want to grow, I just want to take a nap.”
  • “I didn’t know that it was motherhood that was hard.”
  • “During this pandemic, be honest with yourself even when you are stating a need you know you can’t have met. Stating it out loud releases some of the pressure.”
  • “It’s not just one person’s anxiety. Family members can feed off one another. One gets going and it’s like dominos that fall.”
  • “Create a comfort kit. On a bad anxiety day, you can access it. Ask yourself; what can I access right away that I know works?”
  • “Let go of the idea that your job is to make your children happy and to fix everything for them. Your job is to support them as much as you humanly can and to give them the tools to navigate the world.”
  • “We’re all dealing with big feelings 24-7 now.”
  • I was mad at the universe. I was angry at the pandemic. We had all worked so hard. My son had worked so hard to get where he was in school. And then, I had a revelation; “the only thing I can do is take care of him.”
  • “During this time, you have to give yourself more grace than you might think is possible.”
  • “Cut yourself more slack. Give yourself more leeway. If you’re not okay, they’re not going to be okay. Do what you need to do to pour back into yourself. Taking care of you is taking care of them.”
  • “There are more of us out there than there are others who are telling you that you have to be perfect.”