A Fresh Perspective on Parenting in Self-Isolation

Our world has been catapulted into unprecedented kind of chaos.  Yet, depending on how we choose to respond, our children may one day look back on NOW as one of the best times of their little lives.  Bear with me.

When I was small, all I wanted was for my mom to slow down.  To put down the chores, the work, the errands, the endless manic DOING and just BE with me.  I wanted my dad to swing me around like airplanes and play chase with me in the garden.  I cherished the moments when we could all do art together.  When we could cook a nourishing meal, enjoy it, and make silly jokes around the dinner table.

One of my most precious memories was being taught to cook croissants at a bakery where my mom worked.  Thirty-five years later, I vividly recall rolling neat little triangles, the warm buttery smell, and enjoying the soft/crispy tasty texture of my creation.

Surely all of these memories require the presence to stop doing and….teach a skill…create ugly artworks….run in the garden…eat a beautiful meal?And, if you think about it, isn’t that exactly what most of the world is doing right now?

Many of us are stuck in self-isolation.Our children’s schools have closed.Our jobs are largely lost or on hold.Our movements are restricted.

While I can appreciate that these events are catastrophic, and deeply uncomfortable, I can’t help but feel we are processing a new reality for ourselves – and our children.I can’t help but feel that, once this is all over, we might not want to go back to the insane pace of our previous lives.

In the past weeks, my children have transformed from frenetic and attention-grabbing to engaged and creative (they are still crazy, but they are toddler boys so…hey).It took TONS of discipline on our part, steering the ship while negotiating job searching, housecleaning, cooking, and so on, but the effort was worth the reward.

I quietly watched today as my boys built a magical sandcastle together, because we finally moved the sandbox into an idyllic spot beneath a shade tree.This magical castle required physical graft (transporting sand), teamwork, communication, and imagination.I am by no means a Super Mom, but witnessing them in their ‘un-school’ developing these essential skills filled me up in so many ways.

The boys are helping with the chores (I can’t stand doing it at all, much less alone).We do ‘BabyChef,’ a chaotic and grubby cooking affair.They are creating worlds within worlds every day.They have mom and dad, all day and all night, on demand, twenty-four seven.What better world for a small child?

If you had told me I would be writing this when I was crazy busy juggling my business, kids, social life, and personal time – I would have said you were nuts.Yet once I surrendered and let go of how crap it was to be stuck between four walls with two smalls, I really began to enjoy it.Thoroughly.

My wish for all of those in isolation is that you discover this place of surrender within, to realize this time is brief, and grasp the fleeting stillness with both hands.