Parenting advice in the pandemic
Dr Mona Amin, a board-certified paediatrician, who is also the mother of a two-year-old son, frequently shares parenting tips and information on social media, where she goes by the username @PedsDocTalk.
However, in an Instagram post shared last week, Dr Amin took the opportunity to acknowledge the toll the pandemic has had on parents, and to urge her followers to consider their own well-being.
In the post, Dr Amin began by explaining that, over the last two weeks, she has watched Covid surge again, before noting that she has talked to multiple parents throughout the pandemic who have had to make difficult decisions about childcare, work, and “so much more in the interest of the health and safety of their child”.
According to the doctor, during this time, she’s frequently heard from parents who’ve revealed that they’ve never felt more helpless, or that they are in desperate need of a break.
As a result, Dr Amin said that she is “more concerned about us than our kids”.
“We have had to carry an enormous weight on our shoulders for two years,” she continued. “The lack of stable childcare help, the lack of in-person community, handling work-life balance, the constant mental gymnastics we have to do about risk reduction and the desire to keep our children and family healthy and safe, and the realisation that we can’t always rely on others to do their part to keep our community and children safe.”
Dr Amin then noted that these fears have been placed on top of the day-to-day responsibilities that come with being a parent, and the “societal pressure” to be a “perfect” parent.
In the post, Dr Amin also acknowledged that, as parents have turned to social media for messages of encouragement, they can ultimately end up feeling worse.
“Sometimes, the overload will make you feel like you are not doing enough,” she continued, before sharing a list of all the things that the parents who follow her shouldn’t feel bad about during this time, such as overusing screen time or giving in to a child’s tantrum.
She wrote: “Please know that it’s okay if you’re not engaging and playing with your child every moment they’re awake. Please know that it’s okay if you overuse screen time if it means you get a break.”
According to Dr Amin, parents should also be easier on themselves when it comes to responsibilities such as making a fresh meal, or deciding not to be consistent with a boundary “because you’re exhausted”.
“Please know it’s okay to not always follow your plan,” she wrote.
In the post, the mother of one also acknowledged that many parents are in “survival mode,” and that it’s okay to break their own rules for their survival.
“It’s okay to think about what YOU need to get through this pandemic,” she continued. “It’s okay to think about how YOU are feeling and how this pandemic is affecting YOU.”
Dr Amin concluded the post urging parents not to let the pressures to be perfect consume them, before explaining that “perfection in parenting is understanding where to focus your strengths, understanding what you want to work on, knowing when you are in survival mode, and remembering that you don’t need to check off all the boxes and can do what feels right for you”.
In the caption, the paediatrician, who has more than 183,000 followers on Instagram, reiterated the reminder that parents need to do what feels “right” during this time and that they shouldn’t feel guilty.
Dr Amin signed off the post: “A paediatrician momma who has broken screen time ‘rules,’ has gone on a lot of silent walks with Ryaan, and has relied on Trader Joes frozen meals for the last three weeks.”
As of Wednesday, the post has been liked more than 32,000 times, with hundreds of people sharing their gratitude for the reminder.
“Thank you for this – needed this right now. I feel like a shell of a person some days and it leads to so much guilt because I want to be more present with my children,” one person wrote. “It does feel endless. But reading this from you helps a ton.”
Another parent said: “Thank you! You have no idea how much this helps to hear, life seems impossible on so many levels and doing our best is all we can do right now!”
“The message every parent needs to hear during this pandemic. Thank you,” someone else commented.
While speaking with Yahoo about the viral post, Dr Amin explained that she wanted to share the reminder because she is worried that not enough parents are protecting their own mental health. “I’m not worried about these kids, I’m worried that we are falling into a spiral,” she said.
“Don’t worry about trying to make everything so perfect,” she continued. “You are in survival mode. I am in survival mode. I have pressured myself so much, but [as] parents we all need to do what’s important for our mental health right now.”