Focus on What’s Meaningful During COVID

Focus on Parenting Choices During COVID-19

Many parents have shared with me that in the age of COVID, they make decisions hoping that at the end of the day, they’ll at least be able to say, “I don’t regret any of my choices.” Perfection was never an option in parenting, but now many of us are striving for good enough. That can feel awful. But suppose we pay attention to the decisions we make in challenging times. In doing so, we can learn a lot about our priorities. These priorities highlight our core values and enable us to think about what is most meaningful. This reflection helps us be intentional about prioritizing those things that strengthen our families.

Before COVID, many of us were multitasking for so long that it felt like second nature.  We gained a sense of pride whenever we described ourselves as “busy.” But now there is JUST. TOO.  MUCH. Who knew that we would have to work from home, keep our family entertained, stay on top of our kids’ education, manage everyone’s emotions, and worry about finances all while worrying about ourselves, relatives, or neighbors falling ill? And all while being told to stay apart just when we have an incredibly deeply rooted need to draw nearer.

This is an opportunity to move forward with a saner pace that prioritizes health, family connection, and caring for and about our elderly.

Learn How to Identify Your Priorities 

 Parenting has always felt a bit like juggling. In the best of times, we’ve had to keep a lot of balls in the air. These times, however, make me think of the juggler who can comfortably juggle three or four balls. After a lot of practice they might add a fifth.  Add another, and balls may begin to drop. Sometimes they come crashing down. 

Many of us are way past juggling because there are too many things coming at us. Some of those balls are hitting the ground. Now you have two directions to look. What you see will tell you a lot about your priorities.

First, look up. Notice what balls remain in the air. I’m guessing they are the things keeping your family together. Basic needs being met. Caring for your children’s emotional well-being. Making sure your parents and other elders in your life remain well-cared for.  Finding the time to be with one another. 

Next, look down. You’ll notice that some of those balls on the ground represent things that once seemed important to you, but didn’t make the cut now. This is a time to reflect whether you can choose to leave them behind as you move forward in your life. 

As an expert on resilience, people often ask me whether things will ever be the same.  The definition of resilience is about bouncing back — returning to normal after normalcy is challenged. They ask the question, but their unspoken hope is given away by the look in their eyes or tone in their voice. They are longing for the reassurance that would come if I responded, “Yes, children and families are resilient. Our communities and nation are resilient.”  Instead, I respond “I hope not. We can be better.”  I see resilience as something more meaningful than bouncing back. It is about being more likely to THRIVE because of the lessons learned and wisdom earned through life’s challenges.

Forget Parenting Perfection

A major step to getting there is to shed the meaningless pursuit of perfection and commit to no longer gauging success by the number of balls we keep in the air. This is an opportunity to move forward with a saner pace that prioritizes health, family connection, and caring for and about our elderly. It is the time to realize that emotional health and mental wellness take priority over material objects. Precisely because this time has forced separation between us, it is the time to learn that nothing matters more than being together. You’ll need to find time to focus on what you learn really matters to you. Find the time by leaving some of those other balls on the ground.

Click here for resources to help you and your family deal with challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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About Ken Ginsburg

Ken Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, is Founding Director of CPTC and Professor of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He travels the world speaking to parent, professional, and youth audiences and is the author of 5 award-winning parenting books including a multimedia professional toolkit on “Reaching Teens.” CPTC follows his strength-based philosophy and resilience-building model. For more on Dr. Ginsburg visit www.fosteringresilience.com.

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