I am not in the trenches of having littles right now, but Chelsea is and if y’all follow me on IG Stories or Instagram then you know that her family and my family hang out often. I really wanted her to come to The PurposeFULL Woman group to help Mamas that have little ones at home feel normal during this Pandemic. Whatever normal is, I don’t really know anymore! She walks you through Parenting and Going Back to School With Littles During a Pandemic.
Parenting and Going Back to School With Littles During a Pandemic
Chelsea has two little ones, a 5 year old and a 17 month old. The five year old is a little professor and the 17 month old is a little daredevil. Chelsea and her husband, Brad, are constantly bombarded with questions and trying to keep little people alive, to say the least. She’s been working part-time from home, but she will be going back to teaching full-time this Fall. Her and her husband both are teachers, so she knows what it’s like to be a working-mom, a stay-at-home-mom and work-from-home-mom, and none of them are easy. So let’s dive right in to the questions I asked Chelsea and the encouraging answers she gave all of this!
Everyday Life With a Pandemic
How has everyday life changed for you? Loaded question right?!
It’s good and bad…..It’s actually been a bit weird. There’s been seasons of this pandemic and quarantine. So when it all started, it was weird and scary. But also, it was refreshing, because we got to kind of refocus and spend more time together as a family since we were all home. We hung out outside blowing bubbles and making smores in the fire-pit. That helped me kind of refocus, because I was going through a hard time at the moment.
Being a work-at-home mom, being pulled in so many different directions and not being able to focus one way or the other, it really helped me to kind of come back to focusing on my relationship with the kids. Needless to say they thought I was awesome. So that’s the good part!
The not so good-part of it has been kind of reconciling. This is not the world that I want for my kids and it’s so hard to face. And when they’re so little, all they know is that everything is different. So when the honeymoon phase of quarantine was over my five year old wanted to go places. He became really stoic and quiet since all of his normal places were closed. We had to start explaining in an age appropriate way that there’s a Pandemic going on but and then I want to say: It’ll be fine and normal again soon….. But I really don’t know that for sure! It’s all about striking that balance and letting them know what’s going on, but also letting them keep their little innocent bubble.
Age Appropriate Information
I know you said “age appropriate”…. how have y’all kept it age appropriate?
I think sometimes we really don’t give kids enough credit for how intuitive they are. With our oldest, especially at the beginning, we were very guarded with what we talked about and how we talked about it. We didn’t watch the news. We were reading all of our news online. But even still, he picked up a lot more than we thought from the commercials on TV. Especially since almost overnight all of a sudden commercials changed. He picked up on things like that. And now he’ll ask questions like: When the Coronavirus is over, can we…..? If I as a parent, don’t address it with him, then he’s going to fill in all the blanks on his own. And, I do not want that!
How are you dealing with all of the questions that come your way as a parent? For instance: When are we going on vacation? When can we go back to church? Etc. Because those are normal questions that any five year old would ask even while not in a Pandemic….
I am not a Pinterest Mom by all means, but I do make sure that I have plenty of resources and activities, so that those questions don’t necessarily come up. And it’s not really activities I’ve gone out and bought. It’s things like going outside and planting tomatoes in a pot and watching the bugs and caterpillars. Then looking up what kind of caterpillars they are. Just making everyday a science experiment or finding something fun your child likes.
So really, it’s taking those moments that happen every day, you just have to take a second to like be present in that moment. If I were a five year old kid, how can I make the most magical awesome thing ever? And so when you do that, there’s not so much of the: When can we go somewhere else? When can we do this? If you make the environment that children are in, somewhere that they want to be the questions don’t come up as much.
Give Your Child Grace
I think we hear a lot about giving ourselves grace as moms. And that’s 100% accurate. We should not play the comparison game. Absolutely give yourself grace. Don’t buy into “The Pinterest-Instagram” beautiful curated life. But I think that we have to remember that that applies to our kids too. And you just have to reframe it into a kid-version instead of your Mom-version. If you are having a bad day you may want to lay in your bed and watch trash TV. A five year old kid is probably going to lash out at me. But, I just have to recognize that.
I have to recognize he needs self-care too. His self-care may be sitting down and watching lego Star Wars or whatever it is that helps him decompress and get away from what it is that’s making him feel that on the inside. And of course, just giving him grace! Recognizing that he does not have the mental emotional capacity that I do to process things… things that I am having a hard time processing too! It’s really easy for us to box our kids into expectations that are totally not reasonable
Going Back to School During a Pandemic
Another loaded question I know! But, how are you and Brad dealing with the fact that your oldest is going to Kindergarten in a Pandemic? A new Season of life on top of a Pandemic…. And how is he dealing with it?
Yeah…. well…. so this is probably where I haven’t done a great job. This is me giving everyone else permission to be imperfect. I want to be completely honest. He knows that school is happening. I bought all these cute little books to read about Kindergarten. But I think I’m having trouble with it, so I really haven’t talked about it much with him like I should. It’s already really hard to let your baby go to Kindergarten. It’s a big deal, it’s happy and it’s awesome. I’m so thankful that he is here and growing and thriving and ready to go. But it’s so hard to let your baby go.
And then we’re going to add on top of that…..he might have to wear a mask all day, he might not be able to sit with his friends, he might not be able to have PE or recess, eating lunch in the classroom, no school programs, you know all the things that you’re excited about for them…. are potentially not happening. That’s hard! And it’s hard for me to talk to him about it because even the school system does not know, no fault of their own.
Supporting our Teachers
But, I also know as a mom and as a teacher, that the teachers have a way of pulling the magic out of the moments. So I fully believe that when kids go back, the teachers are going to find a way to make them feel loved and safe and happy. I just feel like it’s going to be more instances of getting creative, finding the caterpillars outside and turning everything into a magic moment. Bottom line is, we have to trust that whatever we can’t do for our children, God WILL. We have to pray for their teachers to do the right thing for them too.
Being a teacher myself along with my husband and many others in our family, most teachers go into teaching as a calling. They genuinely love your kids, and they want to be that source of hope and light for them. It’s not easy, but it’s what they have signed up for. That’s what they want to do. So, definitely any way that you can support them, because yeah, they don’t know what’s going on right now either. But, I know that they’re going to be there with bells on ready to love your kids, teach them and get through all of it together. They’re not against you, they’re for you.
Letting God Take Care of the Rest
It is important as a Christian parent that we realize that we are not supposed to be everything to our children. You’re not supposed to be! That hits hard, doesn’t it? You want to be their everything, but you’re not supposed to be their everything. You’re supposed to be doing everything you can to point them back to Him. And when you take that mindset, it kind of re-frames everything that you do. It may hurt you, but it’s also kind of liberating. If you don’t have to be everything, that means there’s more space for you to learn and grow.
Masks and Kids
How has wearing masks been with your five year old?
The mask issue was really hard at first. We have experimented with a lot of different masks since he also wears glasses. I didn’t realize that little ears don’t have a lot of cartilage in them, so when we put the glasses and the mask on his ears it was overloaded for sure. So some have worked and some have not. Since he’s super into trains we have made sure his masks have trains on them. We’ve kind of made it a game. We have masks that make him look like he has a puppy face. But his favorite mask, is one that makes him look like a train bandit. (Gaitor mask)
We have just been making everything playful. He knows that we’re doing it to keep everybody safe, but it’s also a bit of a game for him. So just finding ways to take what’s now “normal” or what’s happening every day and putting it into five year old language and making it into something fun. They process what they can relate to.
Closing Words from Mandi
We want you to know that you have permission to feel all of the feelings and so do your kids. As cliche as it sounds right now, we are all in this together and us as Christian women definitely need to stick together, because the world is not our home. We need to be serving Him more and we need to be leaning into Him more. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the news and in the world. But at the end of the day, we all have to ask ourselves, did I go to His throne today? I think that’s where a lot of us are finding that void. And I say that because I’m guilty of it as well.