A new norm: 12 ways to thrive as a suddenly-at-home parent
Wow! Within the last week, thousands of schools were closed, and a multitude of parents became “suddenly-at-home” parents. From being told to work from home (if that is even an option) and now being responsible for “homeschooling” your kids, most parents are just trying to figure out the next step.
If this is you, you are not alone.
Many parents have more questions than answers. We are striving to find some sort of norm, giving more screen time than usual, searching for toilet tissue, and running out of ways to keep the kiddos busy.
Parents are comforting children who miss their teachers, seniors who want to know what about graduation, and maybe figuring out how to help their child with special needs adjust to unpredicted change. There are tears, frustrations, sadness, and possibly outbursts (and I don’t mean just from the kids).
For days many of us have been merely surviving.
But what if, instead of just surviving during this season, we could thrive as suddenly-at-home parents?
I believe we can.
During this time, we can draw closer as a family, come together as a community, and become stronger than we have ever been.
If we want to avoid staying in the survival-mode rut, there are 12 ways to thrive as a suddenly-at-home parent.
1. Give yourself grace
The moment I knew we would be quarantined to our homes, I made the decision immediately to give myself grace. The journey we are taking now is unlike anything we have ever experienced. All of my spring break plans went out the window, and I let it be okay.
I relaxed on screen time for my fellas. I surrendered the idea of creating a set schedule for the day. Instead, I gave myself room to process, to feel, to cry, to rest, and to reset.
We will not thrive being suddenly-at-home parents if we don’t adapt, and that takes grace.
Grace to understand we are learning, we are healing, and we are adapting.
This friend takes time.
Time to research how to help my children continue with their education. We need time to adapt to this new season. Time to understand the far-reaching implications of what we are experiencing. Don’t rush.
For some of us, we have a hard time being gentle with ourselves.
So how do you give yourself grace?
Remember, grace is given to us.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
You don’t have to be strong and have it all together. Rely on Christ to guide you and reveal His plan to you in this season.
Grace is about progress, NOT perfection.
Perfectionism is our enemy in any season.
Celebrate your progress. Write down your wins and hold them close. Remember, your words matter. Talk kindly to yourself. You are doing a great job!
Everything in our lives takes up space, whether it is mental space, physical space, or calendar space. Choosing to simplify your schedule and your expectations will help you to thrive. You might learn this time will give you more space for who and what matters in your life. Who knows, you might realize this time is helping you to create a healthier life and healthier relationships?
Choose to simplify your schedule.
What matters most in your day? As a suddenly-at-home parent, you might have to decide how to work from home while taking care of three children (all new experiences). If this is you, it’s okay if the kids sleep in while you get up early to work or maybe help one child at a time. Spend time in prayer, identifying your priorities.
Remember, it’s okay if your days look different.
Remember, focus on what is best for you and your home. Keep your eyes on your journey, not your friend on Facebook, or the influencer on Instagram. God specifically assigned you to your family, your neighborhood, and your city. Steward them well.
3. Create a new rhythm
As a suddenly-at-home parent, our schedules look quite different. Gone are the up early to fight morning traffic or shuffling the kiddos off in the long parent drop offline. Now, we are home all day with kiddos who are constantly hungry and figuring out the balance between productivity and rest.
Instead, embrace a new rhythm for your family.
Identify the priorities for the day and allow them to be fluid. Suggestions are getting up before the kiddos to spend time in your word, plan your meals, and discuss work schedules. Open communication about needs will help everyone to adjust to the new schedules.
4. Practice Gratitude
One important way we are going to thrive in this season is to discipline our minds and hearts to be grateful. Practicing daily gratitude helps us to appreciate all God has and is doing in our lives. We take our eyes off our lack and see God’s abundance. When we discipline our thought to see one good thing a day, over time, our vision expands. We start to see the good, even in the challenging.
Every day we get to choose where we put our time, our focus, our energy, and our hearts. So instead of stressing out about what will happen next, focus on seeing the good already in your life. The God who provided for you then will provide for you now. Go ahead and give Him thanks.
“In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Whether you choose to keep a gratitude journal or acknowledge what you are grateful for out loud, intentionally making time to focus on the good around, you have a positive impact on your thoughts and your heart.
5. Stay connected
To continue to thrive, we must stay connected to others and continue building healthy relationships. Behind our doors, it can easy to slip into isolation. We are all learning how to navigate this season. Some of us have creative activities for kids, some have gardening tips, some have interesting recipes, and some people just make us laugh.
We are much better together, so don’t use this time as an excuse to isolate.
To help our children, reach out to educators to find out one or two resources to help your kiddo learn. No one expects you to be a highly certified teacher.
Seriously, I am an educator, and I never planned to homeschool my children. There are areas I feel comfortable helping my children learn and areas where I am reaching out to others for help. Helping my children elearn was not a part of my plan, nor was it yours, but together with our school districts, we can help our children learn. We don’t have to come up with all these resources. Instead, we need to stay connected to the teachers who love and care for our children.
Stay connected to your community, especially your church family. Now is the time to come together to help each other meet needs, pray, and provide encouragement. Make the phone calls and send the text. What can you do to help another person? How can others help you?
Staying connected to community and walking in unity matters to Christ. Just read Psalm 133.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Psalm 133:1
There is safety and encouragement when we choose to stay connected. With all of the advancements of technology, we do not have to walk this season alone. We can be connected to a larger body of Christ’s family to pray together, worship together, and believe together. Don’t do life alone.
6. Have family meetings
Family meetings are an essential resource to help your family thrive.
With the new changes, we also must discuss expectations and adjustments. Scheduling time to discuss rules, schedules, and changes will also provide the structure many children and adults need during significant changes.
Creating space for family meetings is necessary for suddenly-at-home parents who now work from home. Your children and other adults in your home may not be familiar with the boundaries and expectations of your job. Don’t take for granted your love ones understand your workplace expectations.
7. Get moving
Friend, being at home is not the time to stop moving. Every day choose to stay active for at least thirty minutes a day.
Being active will helps regulate your hormones, helps you sleep better, and helps with maintaining a healthy regimen.
Whether you choose to go for a walk, do Zumba in your living room, or chase you kiddos around in the backyard, being active is a must.
8. Maintain routines
Friend, don’t let your routines suffer because of current changes. Maintaining your morning and evening routines are vital for your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Change is hard for a lot of people, and you can let good habits suffer.
Even though you are a suddenly-at-home parrent, get up, do your skincare routine, take care of your hair, and have your early morning quiet time. Maintaining your habits will help keep your body regulated, especially for your sleep. With some flexibility in your schedules, you may be tempted to stay up later, eat more food than normal, or just not combing your hair (did you even take a shower today?).
Get up and stick to those routines!
9. Have fun
Friend, I hope you are prioritizing having fun as a suddenly-at-home parent. Play games with your family, Facetime with friends, and enjoy the journey.
We don’t have to be in big crowds to enjoy the moment. During this time, we may have to reframe what we consider “fun.”
Every day look for ways to enjoy your home life and this season and teach your kiddos to do the same. They are also struggling without football games, plays, and hangouts at the playground with their friends for fun. They will need your help to adjust.
Spend time learning a new hobby. Sing out loud out of key to your favorite song. Laugh often. Prioritizing fun will help you to thrive even in hard times.
10. Know your triggers
Being home will also mean dealing with your triggers. What makes you feel anxious, irritated, or disconnected?
Right now, many emotions are already heightened, feelings are on edge, and people are feeling tense. If we are not aware of our triggers, we are walking bombs ready to explode.
So be aware, friend! Pay attention to the tension in your body and the sarcasm in your words.
Discuss with your family what makes you feel triggered and how others can help.
11. Take care of yourself
Self-care is a vital part of thriving in this season as a suddenly-at-home parent. Carving out intentional time to take care of what you need mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually is necessary and not selfish.
Taking time each day to take care of yourself will help you be in a better position to help others. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, resting, and enjoying a hobby are touchstones of self-care meant to be enjoyed daily, not just when you get sick.
Proper self-care can help us to process stress healthily, but it’s not easy. Most of us are good at putting others first and placing our needs last.
Even worse, sometimes we feel guilty for carving out time to take care of ourselves.
Self-care is more than bubble baths and pedicures (although I do love both of them). Self-care is also saying no, maintaining boundaries, working with a coach, and maintaining therapy. You know what you need, so make time for you.
12. Get in your Word
Above all, friend, get in your Bible and spend time with God. The eleven tips I mentioned are helpful, but nothing will help us thrive more than spending more time with Jesus. Just as exercise is essential to take care of our physical bodies, spending time in the Bible and prayer strengthens us spiritually.
Getting in our word daily forces our attention back on the truth of God’s word over any situation of our lives. If we neglect spending time in our Bibles, we will definitely find ourselves stuck in survival mode.
If we are going to thrive in this season truly, we will only be able to do so by partnering with the Holy Spirit. Only by listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit will we know how to minister to the hearts of our spouse and our children. Our spirits need to be fed daily, soaking in the promises only found in the word of Christ. In His word, we become skilled spiritual warriors ready to pray and intercede for our families, our neighborhoods, and our community.
God is a good father, capable of protecting, loving, and leading us all.
Friend, don’t fear this season. Becoming a suddenly-at-home parent may be a surprise to us, but God has already equipped us to thrive. We must do our part to become co-laborers with Him in doing all He has assigned to our hands. We can do this!