Minus being a dog mom (which I do think trains you well for being a parent of children when you have a needy dog like I do), I’m relatively new to this whole parenting thing. I always say I’m a “new mom”, despite the fact that my daughter just turned 2 because quite frankly, everything is freaking new.
Back in March when the world stopped turning and all our workplaces and daycares and schools shut down, I was both relieved and terrified. Relieved that we had the ability to work from home and that she was too young to process anything going on. Terrified as to how we were going to handle it all with a then 20 month old toddler (not to mention her easily excited 6 year old golden retriever brother). And of course, I was terrified about all of the unknown of COVID-19. I mean, where in the parenting guidebook is the chapter “How to parent in a Pandemic?” Is that covered under “how not to shit your pants?”
I have learned that my little one thrives when there is a routine (as does her Mama), so I sprang into action. Back in January, I had actually taken a picture of her daycare “schedule,” because I am a helicopter Mom and having an App for Daycare just isn’t enough for this woman…nope, I had to get the schedule too. Well, I modeled our days at home after that schedule. I started to come up with themes and crafts and stories. Every night or every other night, I’d come up with activities for the next day so we weren’t flying completely blind.
My husband and I worked to take turns parenting for the morning and afternoon unless there was crazy stuff happening at work because us just doing an hour on, an hour off was too jarring for her. I ordered lots of new toys and art supplies. We went on lots of walks. We did Zoom with my parents. And fortunately, her daycare provided 3 days a week of Zoom storytimes, music times and Shabbat that was a half hour each morning. We did this until June 22 when her daycare reopened partially and she was able to go back.
I make this sound so easy breezy, when in reality, here are some things that happened:
* She stopped sleeping through the night. So did the dog.
* I felt so stressed from work, coming up with activities, parenting and dealing with the scaries of the world that I would cry frequently, worry and stress.
*Not every activity was a hit, we didn’t follow the schedule to a T (what toddler does?) and sometimes naps were not in a crib but on one of us.
* I ended up taking the COVID leave that work offered because I got to a point where I just couldn’t do it all and not have meltdowns. Even with my husband, let’s be honest – the bulk of childcare rests squarely on Mom’s shoulders.
BUT because I try to be positive, here are some really awesome things that happened
*Hello! We got extra time with her in a time of her life that goes by in a blink of an eye.
*While there was a lot to balance, I didn’t feel rushed at home like I would normally when it’s time to go to work, daycare, dinnertime, bathtime, etc… the commute was easy and hello yoga pants uniform!* I got to see the awesome work her daycare does on a daily basis with their Zoom calls. It was so cool to see her “interact” with the programming. They were seriously lifesavers.
*I got to see her progress on skills and was much more focused on quality time. *I got to be really creative and some of the things I found out to do were so fun!
Now that she’s back at daycare and I’m physically at work, I still struggle if we are doing the right thing, but daycare has been going above and beyond with their safety protocols. I also struggle with the fact that I could pass it on to her because of people not following protocols. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands.
Even with things opening back up here in PA, we are still not going anywhere and and sometimes that’s really hard on the weekend because I am back to trying to come up with things to occupy a toddler’s time. Thank goodness for a mostly shady backyard and an inflatable pool and water table! I do wonder if she’s like, why aren’t I going into stores or out to eat? Yes, those places are open but we are choosing to be extra vigilant.
In my next post, I’ll document some of the craft ideas and other things we have done and the hits and misses. For now, for those still stuck at home, give yourself GRACE. You are doing the best you can. You are MORE than enough for your little one, for your family, for friends.