Being a parent was never easy to begin with — these days, it sometimes feels downright impossible.
That’s why Angelina Jolie is urging everyone caring for children amid the coronavirus crisis to keep in mind that “your kids don’t want you to be perfect — they just want you to be honest.” In an open letter published in Time magazine’s Parents newsletter, the production company owner, actress and activist spoke directly to fellow caregivers, urging them to let go of high expectations for themselves.
“[I]n the midst of this pandemic, I think of all the mothers and fathers with children at home. All hoping they can do everything right, answer all needs, and stay calm and positive. One thing that has helped me is to know that’s impossible,” she wrote.
[Related: She Launched a Platform to Help Overwhelmed New Moms in Normal Circumstances. Then Came the Pandemic]
The mother of six admits that she “never thought I could be anyone’s mom” due to a rough start in life. But when she became a parent, Jolie continued, she found that “it wasn’t hard to dedicate myself to someone and something greater than my life. What was hard was knowing that from now on I needed to be the one to make sure everything was okay. To manage it and make it work. From food to school to medical.”
But living through a pandemic is something wholly unexpected, and unprecedented — which is why she urges parents to go easy on themselves.
When it comes to more practical advice, Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com CEO and a regular contributor here at The Story Exchange, recently offered some additional tips to parents juggling work and childcare. Splitting the work between partners (if and when possible), setting work-specific hours and forgiving oneself for increased screen time are some of her recommendations for getting to the other side relatively unscathed
Sweeney acknowledges that everything about navigating this situation is easier said than done — in part, because so many questions remain unanswered. “Nobody knows when the kids will go back to school or head back to daycare. Working parents don’t know when they may be able to return to the office.”
But no matter what, Jolie wants parents to remember that your children “love you. They want to help you. So in the end, it’s the team you build. And in a way, they are raising you up too. You grow together.”
[Related: Prominent Women Entrepreneurs Offer Levity, Lessons During Global Pandemic]