Pandemic Parenting: A Challenge

Disclaimer: I hope you all know by this point, that whenever I write something here, I am really, truly writing it to myself. That is definitely the case with this post, so please don’t read any sort of guilt or pressure into it. This is something that I feel like God was challenging me on, so I’m sharing it in case any of you need to hear it as well.

For the past five weeks or so that we have been living in this strange new world, I feel like I’ve been trying to pretend that nothing is different. When things get tough, I often cope by just trying to keep things as normal, routine, and clean (yes, I’m a stress-organizer) as possible. I’ll admit, I was one of those who optimistically made a colorful schedule. I saved all of the virtual field trip links. I made a list of “creative time” activities. I decided to faithfully and not-so-patiently wait for “normal” to return.

So when it was announced this weekend by the governor of Florida that schools would not return for this school year, I had a little bit of a melt down. My first-grader and I sat on the bathroom floor and cried. We cried for loss of routine and friends and fun. For disappointments over cancelled special events and dance recitals and Fairy Tale Balls. We cried because change is hard and there has been so. much. of. it.

Then I set my alarm for 5:30 am the next day and prayed that my kids would not wake up early because I knew I needed to bring my big emotions and feelings and confusion to God.

During that time I feel like He issued me a challenge: Don’t waste this time.

As a full-time working mom, how many times have I cried before the Lord, wanting more time with my kids? Here it is…and I’m wishing it away?

Don’t waste this time.

Every day is a day closer to the day when my kids will eventually leave the nest and start their own lives. How many times have I thought about that moment and prayed, “Time, slow down!”? Now, time has slowed.

Don’t waste this time.

I think of all the ways I want to be intentional with my kids: teaching them to pray, reading scripture, talking about emotions, playing their games, being silly, having important conversations. I wondered how all of those things would fit into the evening hours between homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time. Now those hours have multiplied.

Don’t waste this time.

We have an opportunity in front of us. Whether we want it or not, we have more hours with our kids than we have ever had before. Many of us have more uninterrupted time as a family unit. More meals to eat together, more afternoon hours to play outside (at a safe distance from neighbors), more time to read books, do puzzles and argue over school work.

Believe me, I know that it is stressful and hard. I have lost my patience. I have allowed too many hours of pointless screen time. I have hidden from my kids on the back porch. Just now, as I’m writing this post, I snapped at a kid who interrupted me, again, who was just trying to tell me I’m the “best mom ever.” #not #can’tmakethisup

Yes, it is hard, but I don’t want to waste this time. I want to use this time with my kids, with my family on purpose. I want to build intentionality into the rhythms of our day so that at the end of this time, we can say we are different than how we began. I want our family identity to become so strong that the first place my kids want to be is our home, even when they’re allowed outside of it. 

We may never again (we pray) have mandated time like this together. What if we all used this time to disciple our children as we’ve always wished we had the time before? What if we told family stories of how we’ve overcome hard times? What if we prayed for our friends, families and neighbors? What if we read scriptures and rejoiced in our powerful God who is still in charge? What if we served the needy in our communities? What if we sang songs of worship together as loudly as we could? 

How different might our home, our world, be on the other side of this?

I invite you to this challenge that God has issued me: Don’t waste this time. Let’s lean in and see what a difference it makes. 

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