As we prepare for the exit from this pandemic (with more people getting vaccinated), I thought of taking some time to pause for a moment and assess where our parenting is at. After all, this pandemic did change a lot in our lives. And certainly, there has been some impact on our parenting styles too. So it’s important to take a look at lessons we learned in the past months and which ones are worth carrying forward, even in a post-covid world.
We all follow a specific parenting style. Going by the books, there are 4 kinds of parenting styles broadly-
- Authoritative: Structured with rules, but with a caring and nurturing approach.
- Authoritarian: Involves very strict rules.
- Permissive: Which gives children a lot of freedom.
- Neglectful: Where a parent is more detached and uninvolved.
In the pre-covid era, I could easily identify myself as an ‘Authoritative parent’.
And then hit the pandemic!
10 Parenting Lessons We Can Take From The COVID-19 Pandemic
Certainly nothing of the past year has been easy for parents. We have lost loved ones, colleagues, seen job loss, salary cuts, gave up on our social life, skipped meeting our own parents/grandparents, juggled remote school and remote jobs- in short, we cut off from the life we lived till March 2020. But amidst all this despair, fear, and exhaustion, in my heart of hearts, I can sense something worth celebrating, something worth holding on to. A slower pace of life, neighbourhood walks, board games at the dining table, new hobbies, new skills and a new appreciation for our children and one another.
But more than those moments, there are these 10 parenting lessons that I would definitely like to carry forward, even in a post-Covid world.
1. It’s Okay To Be That Silly Mom!
Silliness in parenting is undervalued. I could feel the tension evaporate in the moments when we just got silly. In stressful times, our kids need to see us smile, be weird, dance, and look relaxed, so they feel the permission to relax too. I think this is one of the best examples of how the pandemic has changed parenting for the better. We learned to value silly things and I want to keep that alive forever.
2. Let’s Ditch The Rush Now
Looking back at our daily lives – the early morning march to school and work, breakfast on the go, the after-school rush, the bedtime routine, it all feels strangely like a depressing memory of how we walked through our days like a herd of sheep. The pandemic has caused all of us to slow down. With light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, I don’t want to go back to that rushed and over-scheduled life. The running was killing us and exhausting us. I don’t want to go back to that and want to find a way to stay slow without completely withdrawing from society.
3. There’s Always A Middle Way – How About Following “Mindful” Parenting?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned during the pandemic is that I don’t have to identify or strictly adhere to one type of parenting style. Before the pandemic, I might have been more Authoritative and during the pandemic, I moved into a more permissive style. We let go of bedtime schedules, allowing more access to screen time for children, yet ensuring they don’t go overboard. And honestly, I like this combination of both a nurturing environment and providing structure boundaries and consequences. I like to adapt to the parenting style that matches the needs of my children now. I try to be more mindful of those “schedules” and “rules” and prefer moulding them as per the emotional needs of our children. The pandemic has allowed us to spend more time with our children and better understand what type of parenting may work best for them.
4. Blended Lifestyle Is The Way To Go
In our family, the lines defining the roles of each family member blurred in the last 1 year since the pandemic started. We no longer stay in our own lanes in our household. My 6-year-old twins prepare their own snacks, they are in charge of putting clothes for washing and then drying, my husband vacuum cleans the house every weekend, we have all the meals together. It’s like everyone has taken a step ahead and adorned their respective responsibilities so beautifully. My husband and I now experience every moment together. We have so many family discussions about current events and our hopes and fears. Our lives have blended in a way I didn’t realize was possible. And I wish it remains this way even in a post-covid world.
5. We Settled For Less & We Did Just Fine
Over the past 12 months, we’ve done a lot less. Less eating out, almost nil trips to shopping malls, fewer playdates. I know the economic impact of ‘less’ has been tough, but I’ve seen my family adapt and get by just fine. I wonder will it really be that difficult for us to carry on with this even in the post covid world! Doesn’t seem to be so though.
6. Relaxed Academic Expectations
Having been a part of my kids’ virtual school so closely, I have realized that our learning priorities should not be dictated by the school, but by what my child needs. Our kids need less academic pressure and more support after a year of isolation. Can they express themselves, their feelings? Can they read? Do they understand numbers, even if it isn’t the method the teacher wants them to learn? But I hope and trust that they will eventually figure out for themselves how to get the most out of school. Less-stringent academic expectations can help parents breathe a little easier and they’re better for kids’ mental health, too.
7. Honesty & Openness Is Possible
The pandemic brought me closer to my children, both physically and emotionally. We have realised that we can be honest about our feelings with each other and this openness has got us so much closer. Before I really wouldn’t be that open with them because it’d be so quick- “Hi”, “Bye”, “I love you”. And now we’ll be like, “Okay, this is how I feel. This bothers me, this doesn’t bother me.” It is said that if children see that you’re present, they’ll be more present. Also, it’s made me really be more honest with my kids about what I feel and what I’m dealing with and how I process things.
8. A Less Commercial Life Is Not That Boring
Before the pandemic, my family filled our weekends with the latest thing that had been marketed to us, like a movie or a play area or a fun zone visit. When those options went away, we had to get creative and think outside the box. We went for walks, star gazing, exploring our neighbourhood, nature scavenger hunts. None of which were promoted to me in my Instagram feed and came at a cost of only our together-time. And this is one of the most important parenting lessons that the pandemic has taught us. Not every happy moment comes with money. At times all it needs is a slower pace and lots of laughter together.
9. Work-Life Balance Does Exist
For so long my life has revolved around my job. But like most of us, the fight for flexibility to juggle personal and professional responsibilities has always been there. A year into the pandemic, having proved we can do the work remotely, often under difficult circumstances that included child care and virtual education, challenging some long-held notions about how productivity is best achieved. I admit that work-life balance can exist without job performance being suffered. Now, I already know what I need to do and how to do it. I don’t need to be in an office space to do my job.
10. Pandemic Traditions Are Worth Keeping
To keep healthy and sane, we instituted daily family walks almost as soon as lockdown started. We also bought cycles for ourselves during this period. We are lucky to live in a lush-green gated condo, so we cycle together in the daytime, or we walk the streets of our neighbourhood post-dinner. The kids now demand these walks even when sometimes my husband and I feel too tired at the end of a long day. The walks have become the bond that keeps our family together. Similarly, reading a story together at bedtime, discussing our own experiences during dinner time, dedicating Friday nights for family games like UNO, Monopoly & ‘Guess who?’ are some traditions that we wish to carry forward, even in a post-Covid world.
The pandemic is a unique historical event, and looking at it closely is a learning opportunity for both parents and children. There are, surprisingly, a lot of positives to this pandemic and with the learnings shared above, I hope you find your MOJO too!