Raising kids is one of the most life-changing and rewarding times of your life, but it can also be exhausting and draining. Moms typically put their kids’ needs above their own, but moms need to make time for themselves. Use these seven ways to make yourself a priority.
Find your tribe
Having a group of friends that understand what it’s like to raise children, work, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and commit to a loving marriage is important for moms to feel “normal” and supported. Moms groups, online meetups, book clubs or church groups are great places to connect with other moms.
Set aside time
Between running errands, extracurricular activities, housework and spending time with your kids, it can be hard to set aside time for yourself. Spending time alone, with your spouse (without your kids), and with friends is so important for moms to feel energized for another day. Add time for you to the family calendar to assure that it happens on a regular basis and any child care needs are met.
A good exercise routine not only keeps you healthy and fit, but it can also help you feel better about yourself, as well as give you an extra energy boost for the long days of mothering. Exercise can also give you a chance to listen to a podcast, audiobook or music while working out. If your exercise takes you outside, you get an added boost of Vitamin D, which has been proven to help you feel happier too.
Moms work hard. Allow yourself a treat such as a coffee, a new outfit, a fresh haircut, pedicure or a sweet treat on occasion. Giving yourself permission to treat yourself can boost your mood and acknowledge that you work hard and deserve something special. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money; it’s more about putting yourself first on occasion.
Talk to someone
Sometimes we just need someone to talk to about our feelings, and share the details of everyday life. Find a friend or family member to chat with on a regular basis. Some may find it helpful to talk to a counselor if you have a lot to work through, have dealt with depression or feel like you could use some unbiased advice.
Take up a hobby
What do you love to do? Many moms find they have forgotten the hobbies they used to enjoy prior to kids. Seek out an old hobby or find a new one – reading, running, sewing, scrapbooking whatever activity gets you excited. Whether you do your hobby with a group of friends or on your own, you will not regret making time for something that is important to you.
Ask for help
Moms are used to helping others and many of us have a hard time reaching out for help. However, when a friend asks, we are the first to offer assistance. Give others a chance to help you: set up a carpool so you are not always the one playing taxi with the kids for their after school activities; accept help when offered; or trade babysitting with a friend, so you can have a much needed date night. If your significant other offers to help out around the house, let them, even if it isn’t exactly the way you would have done it.
School’s almost out, and kids are ready to kick back and take a break. Don’t let them lose academic ground – prevent the “summer slide” by keeping their minds active this summer. They’ll be having so much fun, they won’t realize they’re learning!
Read Every Day
Make a special place for kids to read. This could be a corner with a soft rug and lots of pillows, a cozy bean bag chair or a hideout with a canopy. Outdoors, set up a teepee (look online for DIY ideas), hammock or create a spot under a shady tree.
Kids can record their progress and earn digital prizes with online summer reading programs like Scholastic and Magic Tree House. Look for more programs at your local bookstore or library.
Create your own summer reading club with incentives for reaching a goal, like reading 30 minutes a day for a week or reading a set number of books. Rewards could include a pizza and movie night, a trip to get ice cream or a small toy.
Learn more about a favorite author; many popular kids’ authors have websites with activities, games, book previews and printables.
Be a Scientist
Have fun in the kitchen! Cook a new dish, bake a treat or blend up a smoothie. Kids can learn about measuring and fractions, following recipe instructions and chemical reactions.
Head outside for some experimenting! Look online for at-home STEM experiment ideas. Find instructions for making a homemade geyser, a mousetrap car and more at stevespanglerscience.com.
Have fun with a science-themed subscription box – two to check out are creationcrate.com and bitsbox.com. Each has materials for electronic projects, coding activities and more.
Take a Vacation Without Leaving Home
Have kids choose a destination and research its location, landmarks and how to get there. Make a travel scrapbook with local wildlife, interesting facts and customs. Try a far-off locale like Fiji, New Zealand or Egypt!
Go on a virtual tour of Crater Lake National Park, the National Mall, Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and more at nationalparks.org.
Choose a cuisine and explore it! Try Cuban sandwiches or Indian food at a local restaurant. Choose a different country each week and plan an international dinner night with themed food and decorations.
Encourage kids to do something artistic – paint a self-portrait, make a collage or sculpt with clay. Look for online tutorials or book-and-craft kits to learn knitting, sewing or making LEGO robots.
Make puppets using items you have around the house, like socks, paper bags, craft foam or felt. Add a storyline and a theater made from a large cardboard box and perform a show for family, create a video or invite friends to an online presentation.
Encourage your kids to write their own story, keep a journal or create a blog. Interview grandparents or other relatives about their lives and put their stories in writing.
Learn to play a musical instrument, compose a song, or make up a dance routine. Check with a local music or dance studio for camps or summer lessons, or look for inspiration online.
Turn off the screens and break out the board games! Classics like Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Sorry and Scrabble Junior can improve math and reading skills, as well as concentration, strategy and teamwork. Find more educational and fun games here.
Chess teaches kids to think ahead and strategize.KidChess has online games, clubs and lessons for all skill levels. At home, Story Time Chess: The Game is a great way for kids as young as 3 years to get started.
Card games are a great way to reinforce math skills. Grab a deck and start a game of go fish, spoons or crazy eights; look online for games kids of all ages can play.
Here are some of the most popular and kid-friendly money management apps available, and the best part is that they’re all free.
(Available at: Apple App Store, Google Play; Age range: 5-12)
This app lets kids experience what it’s like to be a virtual investor. They start off with a single lemonade stand and depending on how successful they are at managing this business, they can acquire more complex companies, including banks and oil companies. They learn important management lessons by hiring managers and employees for their various companies.
FamZoo Family Finance
(Available at: Apple App Store; Age range: 5-18)
This app functions as a virtual bank. Parents are the “bankers” and the kids are the “customers.” The whole family is connected, so it’s easy to move money around. Besides teaching kids how to save money and track their spending over time, parents can transfer real money to them with prepaid and reloadable debit cards. Other useful features include the ability to give your kids loans, and then teach them how to pay back those loans in installments.
(Available at: Apple App Store; Age range: 5-8)
This app functions like a virtual piggy bank where kids save for a special purchase. They can post pictures of it and keep track of how close they are to making that purchase. They open virtual accounts, with unique PIN numbers, to give them a sense of responsibility and ownership of their money. As kids get closer to their goal, parents can contribute virtual money to help them achieve that goal.
Star Banks Adventure
(Available at: Amazon Apps, Apple App Store; Age range: 5-12)
This app teaches kids more complex money management principles, including asset allocation, diversification and the dangers of risky investments. Kids act as space aliens who perform various “jobs” for which they are paid. Kids will learn how to save, spend wisely, invest and set financial goals.
(Available at: Apple App Store, Google Play; Age range: 13-18)
This app is targeted for teenagers who want to learn how to better budget their money. Linked to one or more real bank accounts, it includes charts and data visualizations that display past spending patterns and information about their current finances, which help kids identify potential areas for savings.
Passover begins at sundown on Sat., March 27, and ends Sun. evening, April 4. Passover Seder includes many prayers and rituals along with the retelling of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt—all before dinner is served! Seder is meant to be a relaxed and educational holiday observance, so celebrate with these creative ideas.
Consider attending a virtual gathering or participating in activities.
Scout sites like Fun Family Crafts for craft ideas little artists can do, like making placemats, matzah covers or table centerpieces. Get Passover picture books to read and practice holiday songs kids can share during Seder.
Set aside time for kids to eat a nutritious snack or meal before Seder starts. When tummies aren’t grumbling, they’ll be better able to follow the service and participate.
Buy inexpensive items to represent the plagues (ping pong balls for hail, sunglasses for darkness) and give a set to each child so they can act them out. Create bingo cards or scavenger hunt sheets and have kids check things off as you go. Let kids draw slips of paper with prayers and readings on them to determine their order, or do the same with Seder guest names to pick who participates next. Play Passover trivia and give stickers or trinkets for correct answers. Haggadot has a coloring book version of the Haggadah. PJ Library Atlanta has live virtual events on March 21 on Facebook. 18Doors has daily activities for a week of fun and learning.
If you have younger children, a shortened version of the Haggadah (Passover prayer book) can work well. Some are online for free, or sites like 30minute-Seder offer printable booklets for purchase. Chabad offers resources, such as printable Haggadah prayers, recipes, historical stories and more that can help you explain the traditions to the kids.
Try a Theme
Pick a popular TV show, hobby or interest to use as a framework for the Seder. Even Shalom Sesame (a Jewish version of “Sesame Street”) has a great Seder song for a Broadway theme, set to a tune from “Les Misérables.”
Order catering from these restaurants for Passover meals. Goldbergs Fine Foods has potato latkes, spinach, mushroom and onion farfel kugel, whole seder plate, sides and more. The General Muir is offering a dine-in or takeout meal for Passover.
My kids love animals. Over the years, we’ve collected a menagerie of lower-maintenance critters: fish, frogs, hamsters, even a praying mantis. But my kids wanted a dog.
This posed several problems. One is that three of us are allergic to dander. Any dog we adopted would have to be hypoallergenic.
The second hurdle was my husband. After watching our kids grieve the other critters’ deaths, he didn’t want more drama.
But the biggest obstacle was me. I had no desire to get up at night with a puppy or worry about chewing. The vet bills would surely strain our already tight budget. But mostly, with three kids and a writing career, I didn’t have time and didn’t need the stress of something else to take care of.
But then I started noticing dogs on the street. Kind of like when I started noticing babies shortly before I decided to become pregnant. Uh-oh. Then one morning I met two gorgeous Portuguese water dogs outside a coffee shop. They were sweet and, according to their owner, hypoallergenic and great with kids. Hmmm.
I mentioned this encounter to my daughter, and within seconds she was researching Portuguese water dogs online. She found that they cost around $2,000. Yikes. We couldn’t possibly afford that.
But my daughter had sensed the crack in my resolve. She hounded me day after day. I didn’t have time for a dog, especially with my youngest headed to first grade. No kids to take care of during the day! I could get work done! (This was pre-COVID-19.)
Thinking that I could pacify my daughter, I made a list of all the criteria for me to agree to a dog. My demands were ridiculously specific and – I thought – absolutely unattainable. The dog had to be:
A Portuguese water dog.
An adult, but not too old.
Good with kids.
Black in color. I like black. Black is slimming.
I figured no one could find a dog that met my specifications. One week later, my daughter rescued an abandoned cat. A neighbor drove her to the local shelter to drop it off. That afternoon, she came bursting through the door, babbling about a Portuguese water dog at the shelter.
Yeah sure, I thought. But I called anyway.
“Yes, we have a Portuguese water dog here,” the worker said. “If you’re interested, you’d better come now because purebreeds go quickly.”
My son and I drove to the shelter. I looked down at a mess of an animal with dark, matted fur. A black nose poked through the chain link and a wet tongue licked my hand.
Portuguese water dog, black, check. She is really cute, I thought.
Outside, she chased a ball with us, gently but enthusiastically. Good with my son, check. I snapped a picture and texted it to my husband, who was out of town.
We walked the dog back to the front desk. Surely this purebred dog wasn’t up for adoption.
“Are you interested?” the worker asked. “She’s trained. She sits and walks on a leash.” Trained, check. Seriously?
“The vet thinks she’s about five years old.” Grown, but not too old, check. You’ve got to be kidding me.
I asked about the cost: $250. Inexpensive, check. (At least compared to two grand.)
A man walked by and pointed to the dog. “Is she up for adoption?” he asked.
I instinctively pulled the furry beast close. “No!” I said. I reached down and pushed black curls from the dog’s eyes. She looked at me, and my heart turned over.
I put a 24-hour hold on her and decided that if my husband gave the okay, we would adopt the dog. My phone buzzed, with a text from my husband: “Is she ours?”
It felt like destiny. Our new dog blended seamlessly into our family and is an especially good companion to me. She sits at my feet as I write. Instead of adding stress to my life, she calms me. We’re two middle-aged ladies who suit each other.
The shelter named our dog Portia. But I changed it to Porsche, because I figure she’s my midlife crisis. I didn’t want a dog, but apparently, I needed one.
Atlanta Parent spoke to Monica DiCristina, a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta, about how moms can handle burnout during this time.
As a therapist, what issues are you seeing in parents?
Parents, who already struggle with time to care for themselves and meet their own needs, are struggling even more with that. I am also seeing the weight of decision fatigue. Decisions as a parent already feel big, because you are trying to make the best path forward for the people you love the most in the world. Now, you are trying to balance different opinions and boundaries about the pandemic, the ripple effects of potential exposure to loved ones and not knowing how long you will be making each decision for.
What are your tips for dealing with anxiety or decision fatigue?
We often function like machines, rather than human beings. We are not wired to, nor capable of, giving out constantly. Exhaustion is cumulative, and so is burnout. Consider medication if that’s needed. Wholeheartedly accept your limitations. As parents, we live and breathe as if we can control everything because we want the best for our kids, but we are limited as humans. There’s a peace that comes with embracing your limitations: the ramifications of what other people decide are out of my hands, so I need to decide what feels comfortable to me and let the rest go. With decision fatigue, why is it so hard for you to say no? Instead of getting critical, get curious. Are you afraid of not pleasing someone, rejection, being judged by what people will think?
As a parent, when can you be honest with your kids about what you’re feeling?
It is really positive for your kids to see you model vulnerability and taking care of yourself. For example: “I am feeling really stressed today, which is normal when things are hard. So, I am going to do what I know really helps me and go for a run.” We don’t ever want to lean on our kids for emotional support. Being honest and human with your kids is one thing, but relying on them for emotional support is not part of parenting.
“Staying positive” is advice that’s often given during difficult times. Are there actionable ways to stay positive with yourself and your family?
I don’t think kids need a positive mom. The pressure for moms to be “positive” can have a negative impact on their mental health and confidence as a parent. I would encourage moms to focus more on connecting with and being present to their kids. Paying attention to your kids, listening to them, staying curious about what they are telling you, being involved in their everyday lives – these are much more impactful than positivity.
How can moms handle the extra responsibilities this pandemic has created?
Moms tend to carry the “mental load” for the family – meaning they are thinking of everything and what is next, even when not executing on it. This mental load can be exhausting. Let your partner in on the mental load from the teacher emails to the volunteer requests, and delegate decisions to your partner to help.
A lot of moms have the tendency to over-function, leaving the people in their life with the easy load of under-functioning. Reevaluate where you might be over-functioning in your roles. Set realistic expectations for yourself. This could look like saying no more, serving frozen pizza for dinner more, delegating more and not volunteering yourself for things.
What’s your advice for single parents?
Single parents are the heroes of the parenting world, and even more so now. Remember your context. Comparing what you are alone to a two-parent or two-caregiver household is just unfair and not helpful. Ask for support. As humans, and women especially, we feel pressured to present as though we are needless, and this is not true for any of us. Ask for the help that you need from a colleague or boss for more flexibility in your schedule. Ask a friend to give you time to recharge your batteries for a couple of hours. Evaluate and reevaluate your boundaries as needed.
What’s your advice for couples? (Disclaimer: This advice is not relevant in an abusive marriage.)
The context of what you are living through will put a strain on relationships. Relationships need to have extra support added when there is more weight put on it. We make the relationship strong through increased connection time, which doesn’t have to be an elaborate date night or weekend away. Connection is actually built on small moments. Prioritize these small moments to remember who you are as individuals and as a couple. Building in small moments of daily connection – coffee in the morning before the kids are up, a walk around the block holding hands while the kids ride ahead on their bikes, takeout dinner date after the kids are in bed – can be small wins for maintaining this connection during a stressful time.
After a fight, separate to get emotionally regulated. Create a calm space together, where you can talk about the different buttons that got pushed for each of you during the fight and to connect to yourself and your spouse in a vulnerable way.
Throw out the traditional division of labor you had as a couple. Give each other a break on what you need a break from, which can create compassion and break up the monotony of your daily routines.
What is your advice for essential workers, who are having to deal with the added stress of being out and about?
Don’t forget your context. You are on the frontlines of a global trauma, which has ramifications for compassion fatigue and mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. We’re all relying on essential workers, and they’re likely not getting the support they deserve or need. Reach out wherever you can get any support: from a family member or spouse, find discounted therapy or therapy funds, find therapists with flexible hours. Prioritize your self-care.
What are your tips for dealing with the guilt of juggling childcare and working from home?
Throw the guilt out the window. The last thing a working mother needs during this pandemic is a false sense of guilt for not being able to fulfill an unrealistic version of herself. The myth of balancing it all is just that—a myth. What works more realistically is prioritization. Work and staying employed is an essential priority, but after that, any of the extras need to be addressed and removed. Write a short list of what things take priority in your life, and therefore your time, and measure each extra request by that list.
Since this pandemic has been hard on everyone, do you have any tips for getting over your guilt about reaching out to other people and “bothering” them with your own issues when you need support?
When we show other people our vulnerability, we give them permission to do the same. When we allow ourselves to be honest with our support network, not only will we get the support we need, but we will send the message that it is ok for others to do the same. Reframe it from “bothering” other people to giving them and yourself the permission to be human and be there for each other. Allow yourself to receive the same love you would give to others.
How can you handle the guilt when you’re feeling tired of your family?
We have to be honest with ourselves without shame, which makes us better at loving others. Love does not mean you’re never annoyed. You can be annoyed and still be wholly devoted. The more permission we give ourselves to be human, the less shame we feel. When you’re feeling tired of your family, you have nothing to feel guilty about; you just need time alone. You need time away from people to recharge and time away from your kids to miss your kids.
8 Ways Moms Can Refresh:
It can be hard to remember that you’re a person, not just a list of responsibilities. Start incorporating time for yourself by making these small changes.
“Prioritize recharging moments for yourself, like 10 minutes of meditation, a short walk around the block, listening to your favorite songs or calling a close friend,” DiCristina says.
Make sleep a priority. Create a bedtime routine, and as much as possible, stick to it.
Get active. Take a walk, watch a yoga or exercise video, have a dance party with your kids. Try to get some movement in every day.
Clean up your social media. Unfollow negative friends or accounts that make you feel worse. Try to limit your time online.
Do mindfulness exercises, either alone or as a family. To help you start, download an app, like Smiling Mind, that offers daily meditation programs.
“Pause on daily tasks for a few minutes to do absolutely nothing!” Battle says. “Put the baby in a safe and secure place, close the door to your office, indulge in your favorite snack, or even take a few quiet minutes in the bathroom to take some deep breaths. Take some time throughout the day to decompress.”
Make a list of things you’re proud of to give yourself credit for all the amazing things you do.
Help the family become less reliant on you. Have the kids fix their own lunch one day a week.
Technology and creative thinking make so many advances in our daily lives it’s often hard to keep up. It’s up to parents to take advantage of local resources. Here are schools, camps, programs and museums that emphasize STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) for kids.
Atlanta Academy’s Innovation Center takes 21st Century learning to the next level by providing tools, space and opportunity for students to discover, problem-solve, build prototypes and collaborate as they bring ideas (and baby chicks) to life. The Center is a great mix of art, engineering, creativity and analytics, so every student can have the ability to excel.
In the primary years, the curriculum introduces students to computer science, information technology and digital literacy through classroom inquiry. The secondary years focus on social entrepreneurialism, coding and computer science electives with the option to achieve a professional certification and continue in grades 11 and 12 with a two-year computer science course.
Atlanta Speech School’s STEAM programming begins in the Martha West Looney Learning Commons, where each child grows the strongest foundation for all types of learning. Deep thinking is fueled, complex problem solving is modeled, and collaboration is experienced.
Fellowship Christian School believes God creates each student with unique gifts and talents. Their STEM program seeks to support this uniqueness by offering five pathways: Engineering Science, Engineering Technology, Computer Science, Digital Technology and Architectural/Industrial Design.
The High has programs and play areas designed just for kids. The newly-redesigned Greene Family Learning Gallery is kid‑centered, with an open studio for artmaking and a multi‑sensory gallery for learning about art’s possibilities. Featuring innovative, age-appropriate activities for children, it’s the ideal place to create and explore. Every second Sunday of the month from noon to 5 p.m., families gain free admission and get to experience special family-focused programs. During the camp programs each summer, young artists will explore, create, and showcase their artwork in an exhibition each week.
At Landmark Christian School, engaging academics, Christian values and immense opportunity combine to create an exceptional education and exceptional graduates. They offers engineering, STEM, robotics, aviation, TED, leadership, music, fashion and design, entrepreneurship and more programming to help students discover their passions and develop their talents.
Mount Paran Christian School is an official Project Lead The Way® school. From preschool through high school, students are engaged in STEAM as investigators, experimenters, designers, and makers with hands-on, application-oriented curriculum or honors-level engineering. Eagle Robotics begins in second grade and free PreK STEAM classes are offered to toddlers and preschoolers in the community.
Through design thinking, project-based learning and maker, design and engineering efforts, students engage with their community in order to innovate. Students collaborate with for-profit and non-profit organizations, create bio-engineering solutions, draft digital blueprints and more. This learning naturally integrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
North Cobb Christian School guides students to uncover their unique genius. Whether that’s through their STEAM curriculum that begins in preschool K3, the Robotics and Science Olympiad clubs in middle school, or the STEM Academy magnet program for upper school, NCCS students experience the joy of exploring God’s magnificent world while being assured of their secure place in it.
Sora is an online, project-based high school, and their personalized, project-based learning approach provides a one-of-a-kind educational experience that will truly prepare your student for life. Students work on projects based on their own interests, while our faculty work together in an interdisciplinary fashion to help manage their projects, scaffold their learning process and expose them to new subjects and opportunities.
From early code work in the Primary School and hands-on laboratory work in the Lower School, to an award-winning robotics program in the Middle School and internship opportunities with the Centers for Disease Control and Georgia Tech in our Upper School, Walker’s STEM program boasts experiential opportunities for students ages 3-18.
Wesleyan School’s STEM program mission is for every student to discover and develop their unique calling from God as a problem solver. The School offers courses in computer science, engineering design, architecture and more to help fulfill this mission.
Woodward Academy’s STEAM program emphasizes not just learning content, but designing, building and creating. Students at all levels experience STEAM-driven learning opportunities in their arts, science and mathematics classes as well as special attention through an interdisciplinary STEAM curriculum.
Camp Invention is a STEM summer program that turns curious students into innovative thinkers. Led by local teachers, this program has tapped into kids’ natural curiosity since 1990, giving them the opportunity to become innovators through teamwork and immersive, hands-on creative problem-solving.
Educational and outreach programs at Chattahoochee Nature Center have experienced naturalists teach you during a unique program and learning opportunity. Explore the 127 acres on the Chattahoochee River, learn all about your backyard at the Discovery Center, see the birds of prey in the aviaries of the Wildlife Walk and more.
Improve STEAM skills while visiting the Museum with daily programs, including the Super Spectacular Science Show, the Art Studio and the Build It Lab. Permanent exhibits include “Step Up to Science,” featuring the inner workings of the human body, the wonder of light and the technology of robots and “Tools for Solutions” features simple machines for building in the Construction House.
Look at arts and science in a new way with Circus Camp, from the talent of balancing and juggling to the creativity of clowning. Kids get to participate in real circus activities including the trapeze, tightrope, juggling, magic and more. Campers get to work with circus professionals to practice circus skills, and then perform in a show at the end of camp.
Camps provide an opportunity for kids to see how science works in the real world. Options include experiments and projects in Video Game Creation, Robotics, Veterinary Science, Crime Scene Investigation, Paleontology, Engineering, Space, Biology, Chemistry, Oceanography, LEGO Robotics, Medicine, Programming, 3-D Printing, Drones and more.
This STEM-based camp provides hands-on aviation experience for rising fourth through sixth grade students. Students will be exposed to careers in aviation through field trips to airports and other aviation facilities, including component testing and assembly. The culminating experience will be a team build-off competition, where students will be challenged to build and fly an aircraft they design.
Museum of Design Atlanta offers STEM + design thinking classes, field trips and summer camps for all ages. View “Learning from Nature: The Future of Design” from March 1-May 23 for a demonstration on how designers are finding sustainable solutions to human challenges by copying nature’s patterns and strategies.
Current gamers and future programmers will learn the language behind games and computer programs with Start Code. Campers will learn coding language and will be able to apply these tools to their interests to create exciting games, stories and digital artwork. Kids and teens will dive into hands-on projects using Python, Processing or Java and will even get to modify a Minecraft world.
Now enrolling for summer camps designed for kids 4-10 years. Camps include body-focused and hands-on STEAM, Ninja Warrior courses, gymnastics, sports skills and more with a focus on developing social, physical and cognitive skills.
We hoped a sprint has become a marathon, and for many working parents, it feels like the 2020-21 school year started at mile 15. While you’re in survival mode, you may not realize your building’s professional muscles by making this work.
Give yourself a lot of credit. You’re doing more than making ends meet; every day, you’re showing up hard on two different fronts. This year, school is especially complex for parents, no matter how your kids are participating. If they’re going into the classroom, you are managing complex logistics, and even the slightest cough or throat tickle means that your day (or week) has to be reconfigured on the fly. If your kids are working remotely, you’re overseeing their daily routine.
Either way, making this work takes guts, dedication, focus, and heart. You may feel like you don’t have much to show for the mountainous energy you’re shelling out on the bad days. But know this: you may not be able to see the results of your efforts just yet, but COVID-age parenting is building rock-star professional skills.
You’re a lean, mean productivity machine.
Remember those pre-COVID days when you got to enjoy a well-deserved Friday lunch with your colleagues? Remember stopping for a latte just because it was a rainy Monday morning? Remember those blissful days when you could sometimes be the center of your own attention?
Time, motivation, and productivity exist differently now. You’re powering through your work so that you can be there to help your kids submit their deliverables. You are the backbone of a highly complex operation. A lot is riding on your ability to keep the environment organized, keep the troops motivated, and handle the procurement’s never-ending task. Everyone has what they need to stay on mission.
There’s not a lot of cushions when it comes to your work-life balance these days. The stakes can feel exhaustively high. But it can do wonders for focus and productivity. The pandemic has certainly forced working for parents’ hands when it comes to streaming operations. You’re here. You’re doing this. You rock!
Your communication skills are fat-free and action-oriented
Parenting in COVID takes communication to a whole new level because now, it’s a survival skill. Every day, you’re blasting out various nuanced messages directed at kids, teachers, administrators, doctors, coaches, managers, and co-workers—a wealth of preparation, diplomacy, and detail shapes each initiative.
While you’re doing this work, you’re also showing your kids how it’s done. You’re demonstrating how to shape meaningful questions and direct those at the appropriate person. You’re showing your kids how to troubleshoot and how to make things work in a pinch while being polite, respectful, and professional.
Whether you’re working remotely or heading to the office each day, you’re exhibiting being a savvy communicator and problem-solver. You have no time or patience for fluff or excess. Your communications are lean and action-oriented. But you’re also dealing with kids and teachers who, like you, are managing an unusual situation, so you’re operating with patience and empathy. That’s a lot to manage, finesse and streamline. It cultivates abilities far better than rock star skills-those are leadership skills.
You’re refining your behavioral skills.
Back in November 2019, before COVID was on anybody’s radar screen, Dan Schawbel, author and Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, penned his annual Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2020. He emphasized an upcoming change in the skillset that employers will seek as automation alters the job market. Schawbel writes: “AI will automate technical skills and drive the demand for soft skills like creativity, communication, and empathy.”
An IBM survey of 5,670 global executives from nearly 50 countries found that technical abilities like basic computer and software/application skills were vital for employees in 2016. Two years later, though, the top skills that employers targeted were behavioral skills, including agility, adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to prioritize and strategically manage time.
Um, those sound pretty much like the skills you count on to make it through the day. Sure, some moments are challenging as you toggle back and forth, trying to submit your own work while also aiming to calm a stressed-out middle schooler or refocus a bored second grader. But your reality right now is a super soft skills crash course, which stands to serve you well in the future.
This is how leaders build their savvy and resilience-they propel their teams through the hard times. Even when they want to cave in on themselves, they get re-energized by looking at the big picture and recognizing that they lead a vital effort.
You are leading a vital effort. Some days feel a mess. We all have those. But giving it your sincere and best effort is noble work. It’s important, but often thankless work. Leadership work is like that. Don’t give up-you’re crushing this!
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