Dr. Mona Amin, of Fort Lauderdale, told “Good Morning America” she took to social media to tell parents that they are enough and they need to take care of themselves too.
“For the last two weeks, I’ve watched as COVID has raced through our community and it has consumed my mind and my content,” she wrote in a Jan. 7 Instagram post. “I’ve talked to parents who have had to make difficult choices about childcare, work, activities, events, and so much more in [the] interest of the health and safety of their child and family for two years.”
“I’ve heard parents say they feel the most helpless they’ve ever felt. ‘When will this be over?’ ‘I feel like I’ve been drowning for two years and this is pulling me under.’ ‘I feel like I need a break and it’s never come,'” she wrote. “I was asked the other day in my stories, ‘How can I help my child cope with everything right now.'”
“Frankly, I am more concerned about us than our kids,” Amin wrote. “We have had to carry an enormous weight on our shoulders for two years.”
Amin went on to describe the seemingly insurmountable obstacles parents have faced the past two years, from the lack of in-person connection to the the lack of child care, work stress and the “constant mental gymnastics” of trying to keep their families safe from a deadly virus.
She said those obstacles combined with the normal, non-pandemic stressors of being a parent and the pressures of society and social media can make a parent feel like they are “not doing enough.”
In sharing her advice to parents, Amin 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,” she wrote. “Please know that it’s okay if you go for a walk with your child and instead of talking and labeling things, you are on your phone or walking in silence for a mental break.”
“Please know that it’s okay to give your child food pouches or processed foods because you had no time to make a fresh meal,” Amin wrote. “Please know it’s okay if you decide not to be consistent with a boundary because you’re exhausted.”
“Please know it’s okay if you ‘cave’ into your child during tantrums and mealtimes,” she wrote. “Please know it’s okay to not always follow your plan.”
“For many of us, we are in survival mode,” she continued. “Maybe you have been in survival mode for a week, maybe a few weeks, or maybe longer. It’s okay to sometimes break these rules for YOUR survival. It’s okay to think about what YOU need to get through this pandemic.”
“It’s okay to think about how YOU are feeling and how this pandemic is affecting YOU,” Amin wrote. “Please don’t let the pressure of doing everything ‘perfectly’ as a parent consume you.”
Amin’s post has received tens of thousands of likes, and countless comments from parents with whom the message resonated.
“Holy did this hit me in the gut … Permission to just cry,” one commenter wrote. “Holding my breath for 2 years waiting to breathe.”
“This post so accurately describes what I’ve been feeling for almost two years now. The weight of it all is just so heavy,” wrote another.
Amin, host of the PedsDocTalk podcast, told “GMA” she hopes parents can sit with her message, and use it to help identify what is important to them and what they are struggling with.
Then, she said, she wants them to let go of perfection.
If a parent is struggling with making fresh meals every day for their child, for example, Amin said one simple solution is to use frozen foods.
If a parent is struggling with finding time to exercise, Amin recommends giving a child screen time so a parent can squeeze in a workout.
“It’s about long-run parenting, not these small moments of screen time, or caving or doing all the things that I wrote about in that post,” she said. “It’s not going to ruin our kid. What ruins a kid is that they see a parent who just doesn’t take care of themselves at all. That is what’s going to be, to me, the biggest worry.”
Amin also said quality of time spent with kids is more important than quantity, a welcome relief for parents who feel there are not enough hours in the day.
“Rather than you be so stressed and half engaging with your child, I would rather you have 20 minutes of your time and put your child in front of a screen so that you can now be more mentally present,” she said. “If it takes an hour to cook a fresh meal, rather than doing that, warm up chicken nuggets and sit and play with your child.”
Amin added that the one big thing that keeps her moving forward personally is thinking ahead to the day when she and her patients are parenting in non-pandemic times.
“When this is over, think about how easy parenting is going to feel for you,” she said. “I really do feel like we’re going to come out of this super strong. There’s no other way but up.”