This is it! This is the time for the at-home-parents to shine. Now that our new normal is to stay home, houses have filled up with kids, spouses, and apparently rolls and rolls of toilet paper. Schools have been canceled, telework is the standard, and meals are made to order. Loud noises reign supreme, and there is chaos. There is stepping over people. Different schedules collide as each person has different goals. And this is the type of environment that the at-home-parent thrives in.
This is our business. This is what we do. We have spent time in these trenches, organizing playdates and finding crafts to do on a rainy day. We have balanced budgets to get the most out of a paycheck. We have made meals out of things only seen in the back of the pantry. We have made a lot of macaroni art.
So gather round, my newly confined friends, and I will give you the secret to thriving when everyone, including your spouse, is now at home with you.
Ready? Here it is.
Holy balls I have no idea what I’m doing.
And there it is. You would think there would be better advice to give. Things that you could put on nice little purple backgrounds and post to Pinterest. Maybe a T-Shirt you would wear that had some quick catchy phrase. That’s not the truth of the situation. The honest answer is that we all find ourselves in uncharted waters, and even though I have stayed home with the kids for ten years, this time is different.
That’s what we have to realize. It’s more than just having rainy day crafts or an adventurous hike. It’s about homeschooling our children, giving up our own workspaces to our spouses, and noises that sound like enraged lions. None of this is normal, as much as we would like it to be.
It is going to be hard, and it is going to be frustrating. Even tonight, I’ve gotten in an argument with my teenager about virtual learning and how she can’t spend the day in her PJs. My 7-year-old doesn’t understand why he can’t play video games all day. My 12-year-old keeps wanting to go into our home office to ask mom questions during a conference call. I write from the couch now with a dog laying on me and farting. This is our new normal.
But the at-home-parent can help and I’ve already told you how.
Start by admitting you have no idea what you’re doing.
That’s real advice and it should be on a Pinterest board somewhere. This IS our normal. When most of us began staying home, we had no idea what to expect or what to do. We had to learn as we went.
And things change so much when the kids are young. Things worked until they didn’t and once again we were in uncharted waters. That’s where we find ourselves now, sailing in an unknown direction into a foggy future. Welcome aboard, we are all glad you are here. No one knows who the captain is but we’re all pretty sure he’s drunk.
Once we accept the fact though that we don’t know what we are doing, that’s where we can get better. That’s how we can improve. We can look at school schedules and improvise. We can find the strength that carried us through before because we’ve done this before. As soon as you recognize that, then things can get better.
This isn’t going to be one size fits all. What works for one family isn’t going to work for the next. You shouldn’t destroy yourself with mental whippings when something doesn’t go right. After all, none of us know what we are doing. And in knowing that, there is freedom.
There is freedom to ditch what isn’t working and trying something else. Does my daughter learn better studying in her room, or does she need the hustle and bustle of the living room? Will my 7-year-old thrive if we set up virtual reading recess with his classmates. Does my 12-year-old need a little mom one on one time during the day in-between the conference calls?
Maybe, and maybe not. I don’t care, because we are going to try it all. That’s how we get better. Admitting that we don’t know what we are doing so we can get past the guilt and the fear. That’s what leads to solutions. That’s what I have been through before.
As a new at-home-dad, what worked for the at-home-moms didn’t work for me. I say that with no bitterness, just a matter of fact. But from that, I learned how to do this my way. That’s the philosophy we can take forward during this quarantine. What works for my family? Answer that question and you have your first step in dealing with all of this.
And if all else fails, virtual happy hour happens every Saturday night starting at 9 PM. Bring your whiskey and share the load. We’ll be there.