Over the past 6 months or so, while most people have had to deal with a tremendous amount of personal and professional stress in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of infants, toddlers and school-going kids alike have probably had the worst of it.
However, as a father of an 18-month old son, I think I couldn’t have asked for anything more than the unique opportunity this has turned out to be purely from a fatherhood perspective. For all those struggling with balancing their professional duties along with being a good parent / partner, I’ve summarized a positive take on all the things that are the constant struggle and challenges.
- Dump the pursuit of perfection – The simple fact that you are juggling between multiple responsibilities, only two of which are being a parent and a working professional (in addition to being a partner, doing household chores, self-care, etc.), means that you will not always be perfect at all things. It is not only OK but imperative to be a jack of all trades and not really a master of any, because that luxury isn’t afforded to most people at such times.
- Manage & Own your Schedule – While it’s hard to be too prescriptive on your daily schedule, spend 10 mins in the morning to broadly allocate time to the various tasks that lay ahead – including your work, time for kids, chores at home, time for yourself (me-time is still important), and any other things of importance to you. Most importantly – STICK TO IT.
- Quality over Quantity – The one thing I can vouch for is that quality time spent with your kids is probably more important than the quantity – both for you and your little one. While I miss all the time with my son all week, I also don’t ever have the energy to handle him alone all Sunday even if I wanted to. Find a few things you make your own – bedtime stories or routine, enjoying the meals together, homework (if your kids are old enough), screen time (my knowledge of rhymes today is incredible), or whatever suits you!
- Don’t judge yourself – None of us have been used to “working from home” and handling kids at the same time for such an extended period of time. So making mistakes is natural – and you will have the occasional parenting “mistake” or “oversight” – letting them watch too much TV, not checking in on that homework assignment, forgot to remind that Zoom class, let them have too much chocolate / ice cream, left an infant unattended to check on the smell of burning food, left the soiled diaper on for too long. But it is OK. Don’t be harsh on yourself and start doubting your parenting abilities.
- Sharing is Caring – And this is all the more true when it comes to child rearing. We often are brought up to believe that moms have more of a duty towards their kids when it comes to their daily routines, but that should never be the case. You’re both in this together – so find a balance and agree on sharing the responsibilities of your child(ren) as that will not just lighten the stress from each of your minds but will also bring you closer together as a couple.
- Your Way is the Right Way – The age of internet and social media often leads to information overload. And as parents, we’re constantly striving to be the best versions of ourselves, and come across advice (wanted and unwanted) from a whole host of sources – parents, immediate and extended family, other parents, books, journals, parenting articles, endless youtube videos on the endless Do’s and Dont’s of being a good parent. While it is good to be informed, as long as you keep the emotional and physical well-being of your child the top priority, trust me that your parenting style is the best parenting style for your kid.
- You are your kids’ BEST MOM / DAD – Call it a blessing or a curse, we don’t choose our parents. So unless you’re doing something awfully wrong, chances are your kid will love you and think of you as the BEST parent in the world. More than anything, they love the fact that you’re able to spend more time than ever with them, and so while it lasts, enjoy this special time and don’t sweat the small things!