Crisis is not new. Every family finds themselves navigating a season of crisis at some point. It might be job loss, diagnosis of an illness, or the classic potty vs. pull-up battle with the three-year-old.
What is new (at least in recent history) is every family navigating a season of crisis at the same time. As I write this, everyone I know is dealing with their own personal crisis . . . at the same time as us . . . in the midst of a global crisis . . . and no one is allowed to give a hug or hold a hand. It is, quite literally, mind-boggling.
So much has been written about families in crisis but most of it includes leaning on your support system. Most of it is dependent on being surrounded by people who are not in crisis. Most of it assumes you can sit with a friend and maybe accept a meal or an offer to babysit from someone outside your nuclear family.
Turns out most of it is inapplicable in the middle of a pandemic.
As the mother of two preschool boys, I’m making this up as I go, just like you are. But there are a few things I’ve learned in the past six weeks. Maybe together we can start writing that, “How To Survive a Pandemic with Preschoolers,” cheat sheet. I’ll start:
How to Survive a Pandemic with Preschoolers
1. What used to be lunch-with-friends money is now LEGO money. And I’m not mad about it at all. Turns out I will happily spend my designated “personal cash” on LEGO kits. Because what I’m really buying is 30 minutes of peace and quiet.
2. It is impossible to clean a house while four people, including two small boys, are living in it 24/7. There’s no point in spending your quarantine time attempting the impossible.
3. Quarantine is not the time to expand the palate of a preschooler — no matter how sick you are of cooking the five things your family will actually eat.
4. Your family is only as strong as the weakest link. Our three-year-old still likes to prostrate himself on the floor in public places and then suck on his fingers, so we are not going anywhere public as a family for a long, long time.
5. Limiting screen time for a preschooler is a losing battle when you yourself are on screens attempting to make a living and communicate with the outside world most of the day.
6. If you can actually get the crew dressed (shoes and jackets over PJs totally counts) and outside for a while, life will be better for everyone (especially, if there is a pond/creek/lake in which to hurl rocks. All the rocks.)
7. A few intentional minutes of stillness and quiet at the beginning (maybe when you used to be rushing everyone through that dreaded morning routine?) and end of your day make a world of difference in your family’s time together.
8. Without regular life distractions, my boys, despite their vast differences in personality (and the inevitable battles), are becoming friends.
As you already knew, parenting preschoolers is exhausting.
Now add the fact that your brain has been in constant fight-or-flight crisis mode for about two months.
Combine the two, and there will be moments . . . days . . . weeks when you find yourself swinging at the end of your proverbial rope.
But there is hope.
In your exhaustion, God desires to parent you. And He desires to parent through you. He designed you as the uniquely perfect parent for your unique child at this unique point in history.
When you have no resources left, He promises fresh grace. New life. I love this raw declaration from the author of Lamentations 3:22-23.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
We are not consumed.
We may feel wrung out, burnt out, dried up – but God will not fail to revive and refresh. He will not leave us stranded.
I need this reminder.
When we all come out on the other side of this, life will look different.
Our families will look different.
Don’t be afraid to embrace the raw, difficult nature of this season—and allow God to shape your weariness into something brand-new.