I don’t know if you know this, but you should never, ever use a phone or any other piece of electronics around your children. They will think that the phone is more important to you than they are and they will soon go feral, run away from home, and join the circus.
It’s basic science.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on screen time! Children should never have screen time until they are five and then after that only PBS and the Smithsonian channel. Maybe they can FaceTime with the underprivileged child from a 3rd world country that they are sponsoring in lieu of getting toys, but that’s just once a week or so, assuming they get the iPad we sent.
I would hazard to guess that there are millions of parenting blogs, most of which no one ever reads. But there are those special few that get a ton of traffic and a substantial percentage of those seem to exist just to tear other parents down. Not all of them are malicious, but they tear down other parents just the same.
But now the pandemic has hit and all of their advice and riding of the high horse has come crashing down. Their kids are home all day long and they’re buying whatever groceries are still left on the shelf and maybe they have to work from home, too (doubtful), but it’s all different. Instead of allowing their children to experience big, developmental moments in a safe, unobtrusive environment, they have to teach them math.
These bloggers are part of the reason why parents are freaking the fuck out right now. A lot of us are pulling off the trifecta of parent/employee/teacher and it is really hard to do anything but the bare minimum.
But the bare minimum is amazing and most parents don’t understand that because they’re comparing these days with the pre-pandemic days, days when the bar for parenting was these stupid, condescending blogs.
The bare minimum is keeping your kids happy and healthy and still managing to teach them a few things here and there. The bare minimum is letting them know that despite all the chaos of the world, they have order at home with you, and nothing that happens outside can influence how you feel about them.
The bare minimum is comforting them and listening when they meltdown and knowing that not everything that happens these days is happens in the moment. We’re all powder kegs.
The bare minimum is understanding and love.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I let our older son play Pokemon Go for long stretches of time while his younger brother plays and my wife and I work, but sometimes that’s what it takes. I feel bad that our older son has never really been encouraged to play by himself before and that now, with so much around him being uncertain and scary, he more adamantly refuses to even try.
I feel bad that our younger son is often fine playing by himself for periods of time during which I’m doing other things because I have to. I feel bad that he’s not getting the same kind of attention that his brother got or, at this point, even the same kind of attention that he got a few months ago.
I often feel like I’m doing every single thing poorly. I feel like I’m I’m trying to keep so many plates int he air that they are all on the verge of crashing down. And in this case, two of those plates are my children.
But I know I’m not alone. It’s amazing how being stuck at home with your family for weeks starts to smooth the peaks and valleys of parenting. There are still the haves and the have nots, of course, but suddenly all those bloggers who reveled in talking about what great parents they are have to deal with the same unbelievable circumstances as the rest of us.
And maybe, just maybe, they’re realizing that all their supposedly amazing parenting is a result of incredible privilege.
That’s unlikely. But maybe the parents who aspire to be these bloggers will finally see them for what they really are. And maybe they’ll start to give themselves a break.