Parenting stretches you at the best of times, but the ‘new normal’ asks parents to do the splits, adapt and maintain routine – all at the same time. This public juggling act is taking place every minute of the day, with parents facing increased pressure in their roles of care-giver, role model and individual.
Each week, Metropolitan facilitates open conversations on a variety of topics, through its Three Word Stories campaign.
“We aim to connect South Africans as they deal with the challenges this virus is causing. In sharing our experiences, we start to feel less overwhelmed by what we are going through.
“And with the help of our team of experts, we hope to offer people the tools they need to lighten the load,” says Nontokozo Madonsela, mother of two and Chief Marketing Officer at Momentum Metropolitan.
The changes to the normal work/school routine posed by the pandemic sees parents having to navigate and juggle multiple roles. In response, the campaign’s identified story for the past week was ‘I am overwhelmed’, recognising that parents are facing added pressure with their families now based at home. The following steps were provided in answer to this pain point:
- If it feels like it’s all too much, acknowledge it: “Admit that things have changed – and don’t beat yourself up if you feel that you are not handling it perfectly. We need to adapt to our new situation, and the only way we can do this is through dropping our former expectations and acknowledging that it is going to take time to find our new rhythm,” says Madonsela.
- Reach out to other parents: During this time of uncertainty, reaching out to friends or family members with children can become that much-needed lifeline. A regular phone call with people going through a similar journey can help build your mental resilience. “Through sharing our experiences, parents gain better coping skills,” Madonsela adds.
- Be honest with your children about what is going on: In an article for Psychology Today, Rebecca Schrag Hershberg Ph.D states, ‘It’s on us to start conversations with our kids. Continue to ask them what new things they’ve heard about the virus, to correct misinformation, and to answer their questions honestly and using short sentences. Kids get bogged down in words.’ “I found that this helped my kids adapt to their new routines that much more quickly, bringing some normality back into daily life. They knew that if they wanted to know something they could ask, but life had to carry on; schoolwork needs to be done, teeth need be brushed and the rules around screen time still exist,” says Madonsela.
“As a parent, it is normal to feel that balls are being dropped. Accept that this is okay; your main priority is that your kids are safe and healthy. Remember to encourage them and let them know they’re doing well, rather than reprimanding them for the occasional missed homework deadline.
“Other tasks can be allowed to fall behind for a moment, but the wellbeing of your children is the most important thing,” concludes Madonsela.