Who would have predicted the year 2020 and the challenges it would place on parents? Who could have imagined, one year ago, that parents would become experts in e-learning? Or in video conferencing? Or in following daily CDC guidelines? Now, as we turn the page to a new year, give yourself credit for all you have done to survive.
It is natural for people, especially parents, to focus on all the ways we fail, or all the things we didn’t get quite right. We wish we had reacted differently or responded better. We wish we had said or done more. Yet, think of all that you have said and done and modeled for your children, for others, and for yourself in the past year. Think of all the ways you have demonstrated creativity, flexibility, resilience, perseverance, and hope. And please, take a moment, and give yourself some credit.
Moms and dads showed amazing creativity over the past year. Many of you have created workspaces in places you would have never expected. You turned your kitchen into a classroom, making space for your child’s laptop and school supplies so she could attend her Zoom class there. You shuffled clothes and shoes to make way for space in your closet to take a call or draft a document. You turned a basement corner into a makeshift room, making a desk out of an old table and setting up a lamp to provide just enough lighting for a video conference. You learned how to add a virtual background to your Zoom meetings so that you could utilize your bedroom as your office space. Give yourself credit for all the ways you maneuvered your space, mastered your environment, and muscled your way to productivity during a pandemic.
Give yourself credit for the flexibility you needed and delivered. You turned on a dime when school switched to remote and you instantaneously became a permanent substitute teacher. And when summer camps, summer sports, and summer vacations were cancelled, you became summer activities director for your children. You worked a split shift so you could take your kids to the park after lunch. You created a co-op in your neighborhood and took turns watching the kids. You used your network to find babysitters or online courses or part-time jobs to keep your kids active and engaged and healthy. You took a deep breath and shrugged your shoulders as your child watched another show on Nickelodeon, started a new series on Netflis, and played one more video game, because that is what happens during a pandemic. You showed flexibility in mind, body, and spirit to make it through this difficult year.
Parents showed resilience, time and time again. In addition to managing the ever-changing needs in your household environment and adjusting to the demands of an inconsistent routine, you demonstrated amazing emotional resilience. You responded to your child’s questions about a dangerous virus with encouragement and assurance even if you didn’t feel brave or certain. You moved to Plan B as your family rode the waves of uncertainty — when daycare centers shuttered for a 14-day quarantine, when schools moved from a hybrid plan to full remote, when college dorms closed with little warning. You stayed relatively calm and steady as you explained why masks were necessary, why playdates were off-limits, and why visits with grandparents looked different. It may not have always been pretty or graceful but give yourself credit for all the times you swayed with the times and stayed steady for your family.
Give yourself credit for all the ways you have shown perseverance during 2020You navigated the onslaught of information and protocols regarding a global pandemic. You witnessed people peacefully protesting and others violently rioting. You survived all that comes with a presidential election including annoying campaign ads, uncomfortable conversations, and unending media coverage.
And how about hope? When you got up each morning with new energy and enthusiasm to take on the day, you demonstrated hope. When you pivoted and made the best of a difficult situation, you modeled hope. When you respond to others with empathy and encouragement, you offered hope. When you ended your day with some sense of accomplishment and a bit of gratitude, you exemplified hope. Give yourself credit, that during this past year, 2020, the year that will be remembered as unusual, trying, difficult, heartbreaking, and extremely challenging, you had hope.