I’m incredibly grateful to the Internet — I don’t know how I’d get through quarantine without it. I can search for “toddler science experiments” in 5 minutes or less and get immediate answers to incessant questions from my 5 year old like “Why do vampires drink blood?”. Getting through each day requires so much creativity and energy — and the internet is an incredible crutch.
But the internet is also full of terrible information that can make the best parent feel woefully inadequate. We’ve rounded up the worst advice for parents during quarantine so we can collectively agree to ignore the noise and celebrate doing our best.
1. “Kids might complain about boredom, but being bored allows them to create their own meaning, be resourceful, and get to know themselves”
Nope, boredom leads to screaming while I’m on a conference call or barging in when I’m going to the bathroom. 3-year olds don’t have hobbies they can lean into with their free time to “get to know themselves.” If I need to do something without my kids, I need to give my kids something engaging to do. Here’s one idea.
2. "You need to set ground rules for how other people in the house can get in touch with you during the day. Ask your partner or nanny to text you when they need to ask you something, that way you can engage or disengage when you’re ready."
Maybe I could also go to my nonexistent second home? And text my imaginary private chef with my lunch orders? You clearly cannot adapt this very privileged advice for single parents and dual income households with no childcare support. A real world solution? Compare schedules the night before and split up the hours into shifts, so you can try to get to the furthest corner of your home for important calls - and figure out the rest as you go. Also, it’s ok for a little TV to be part of the solution. Just pick the good shows.
3. “Create or Refresh Vision Boards” and “Use Daily Positive Affirmations”
I love my kids and I love telling them I love them, but I’m not going to ask or expect them to seek personal growth and meditation right now. Kids have a vague notion of time and minimal appreciation for personal development. What they do love is snacks, and playing with their food. If you want to encourage some self-reflection, get your kids to make self portraits with veggies/fruits like these.
4. "Remember to build time in for yourself. Self-care, physical and mental wellness are critical, especially at a time when there’s so much uncertainty."
HAHAHA. Look, self-care is a luxury and the 5am hour isn’t one I want to broach to get in a workout or some journaling. I’m going to “Self-care” by not feeling guilty for not doing it. When you do need a moment, we highly recommend the marshmallow test.
5. “Teach your child to Iron” and “Use the Fire Extinguisher”
These outrageous ideas are both from Business Insider. What the hell?! Please do not involve hot irons and fire extinguishers in your quarantine. We’re trying NOT to overwhelm hospitals, remember?? If you’re trying to teach life skills, start with folding clothes and emptying the dishwasher. Also, most kids will clean just about anything for a few M&Ms — and I consider that a very reasonable price for good help around the house.
6. “So I've got a Coursera free course going in Greek and Roman mythology so I'm rereading The Odyssey, and I’ve started to learn to play the guitar.”
What relatable advice from Ivanka Trump. Right when I finish washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, putting the kids to bed, cleaning up their toys, folding the laundry, and doing two more hours of work, I’m definitely going to re-read The Odyssey. OR how about a glass of wine and some streaming? Pinot Noir pairs nicely with Schitt’s Creek.
Everyone feel better now? Me too. Whatever you’re doing, keep on doing it. No matter what you do today, your kids will still scramble into your bed tomorrow morning and give you snuggles (likely followed by demands for breakfast). You are doing great, regardless of how you get through each day. Stay strong out there!