This past week was a long one. Actually, the past seven months have been unthinkable. Most of us have been at home. Many of us have children. We have been sharing our homes through Zoom whether it be for work meetings or our child’s virtual classrooms. In 2020, I have met so many different types of parents. Some homes were multigenerational, others had crying babies in the background, or the curious toddler who would come into the screen. Other homes were empty with pin-drop silence, while some co-workers found places to work at secluded coffee shops wearing a mask. All of this helped me realize how busy we are. As a parent, educator, and counselor I believe we can always recover a child’s academics, but not their life — nor the lives of their teachers, their families, and the larger community.

I remind myself that our children are little humans. As adults, we learn better when we are not screamed at. We must sit down, get on their level and communicate. It is important to listen to what our children have to say. We need to reassure them that they are safe and listen to their worries. If we do not let them tell us the small stuff now, they will not tell us the big stuff later. The most effective way to raise a nice child is being a nice parent. They are learning to be a somebody through observing you. Our children absorb how you and your partner treat each other. This is a good reminder for us to be the best we can. Let us spend more time listening and less time lecturing. Let us provide space for our kids to speak more and shut them down less. It is okay to apologize to our children when we mess up. They may not understand that you are upset and deserve an apology. It is okay not to be busy.

Being too busy for ourselves is a myth born from our fast-paced, what’s-next society. We need that work and life balance where we divide our screen time from rest time through creating a tech curfew. We can make time for things that are important to us. Repeat this with me: “It is okay to not be busy.” Your phone will not feel bad if you do not pay attention to it and put it aside, but your child will. Our children can use more smiles, hugs, daily routines, freedom to explore, play time with parents, a shoulder to cry on, expressed gratitude for who they are. Maybe you can build a pillow fort together, draw a family pet, have a paper airplane competition, make friendship bracelets, or design your own board game? Be a world changer, a magic maker. Do not overestimate the power of time, a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the simplest form of care which can make a lasting impact.

I encourage you to make time for the things that make you happy to be alive. Reach out to a good friend or trusted mental health professionals. Be proud of yourself for making it through another day. Curbside grocery pickups and showers are not considered self-care. Write a note to your partner, drink water from a fun cup, open your window blinds, and make time for yourself. When you go to bed tonight, remind yourself that you are doing a wonderful job. Remember big things are achieved one day at a time.