Staying Home and Staying Sane
Parents, We CAN Do This
By Jodie Fishman, Chief Content Officer, Bright by Text
After a long, rainy day of juggling work, meetings and childcare with my husband amidst the current pandemic, I opened my front door—and I screamed at the top of my lungs. My confused children raced toward the noise with our excitable mutt in tow, and I could see my husband straining his neck to see why on earth I was making such a racket. When they reached me, my 3 young kids burst into hysterical laughter—and then proceeded to join me. We all yelled, breathed a sigh of relief, and then sat down at the dinner table together.
Sorry neighbors—I hope we didn’t scare anyone—but somehow, that moment of collective shrieking acted as a mini-reset. And it was exactly what we all needed.
That minute of unleashing reminded me to keep focusing on the other sanity-savers I’ve been collecting—and relying on—during these weeks of quarantine.
Brightening someone else’s day gives my whole family a boost. I’m not an educator. Nor am I a Pinterest-mom. But I am certain that I want my kids to be compassionate humans. I recently started asking my littles ones (ages 3, 5, and 7) this question every morning: what can we do to brighten someone’s day today? Initially, my oldest rolled her eyes at me. My youngest stared at me blankly. But slowly, over the weeks of isolation, I’ve witnessed an amazing shift. My kids have gotten creative—and kind. We’ve chalked friends’ driveways with messages, organized virtual surprise parties on zoom, delivered groceries to doorsteps, created book exchanges, and donated toys to neighbors and strangers. My kids look forward to our daily good deeds—and I relish the satisfaction they’re getting from simple acts of kindness.
Unlike toilet paper right now, there’s no per customer limit on positivity. Some days—and even hours—of staying home are easier than others. Don’t judge, but the highlight of many of my days is making myself an iced coffee in the early afternoon. My kids picked up on that, whined persistently to try some—and voila! Family tea time was born. We put away work, toys, and screens for a few minutes and sip coffee or (caffeine-free) tea. The kids feel like royalty because, possibly against my better judgement, I let them use a real tea set. Little rituals like this have given all of us small things to look forward to, and our list is growing: family movie nights, Taco Tuesday and other theme dinners, wear-your-sibling’s clothes days, pajama days (ok, that one is pretty much daily for my 3-year-old). Instead of hoarding Lysol wipes, we’re finding ways to stockpile activities we can anticipate—and enjoy.
Text messages are a form of self-care. I stepped outside for some daylight recently and texted some mom-friends who have served as my isolation life-lines: Today I feel _________. Then I continued: I’ll go first. Irritable. The responses came back like rapid fire: Like I’m failing at all the things. Like I’m the worst mom ever. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. I wasn’t expecting butterflies and rainbows, but WOA. My friends were struggling too. Once we all got through that initial round of feeling-sharing, another wave of messages rolled in: I feel better already. Thank goodness we’re in this together. Many of us don’t have time for long phone calls these days, but checking in on each other by text—and sharing our daily struggles or moods—has kept me feeling like I can do this.
And guess what, parents? We CAN do this.
Whatever combination of parenting/working/homeschooling you’re rocking these days, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: this is hard. Your best is good enough. Do what works for you—even if that means the occasional family scream.