Dr. Mona Amin, a dedicated pediatrician and mother, shared some much-needed advice for parents struggling during the pandemic.
Dr. Mona Amin is holding down two of the most difficult but equally imperative jobs right now: being both a mom and a pediatrician. In an effort to communicate with other pandemic parents struggling as a result of COVID, its ensuing lockdowns and its economic fallout, she took to Instagram to post a meaningful letter. From reiterating that it is okay to prioritize yourself to asserting how important it is to evaluate your expectations as a parent, Dr. Amin was the voice of reason we all needed during these challenging times. Since it was first uploaded, her Instagram post has gone viral, with dozens of parents writing in to share how they felt seen, Good Morning America reports.
"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. "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." She listed some of the most frequent questions and comments she had heard so far.
For instance, "When will this be over?" and, "How can I help my child cope with everything right now?" or, "I feel like I've been drowning for two years and this is pulling me under," and, "I feel like I need a break and it's never come" are questions she comes across often. In response, Dr. Amin shared that she had more concern about the parents asking these difficult questions than she did for their children. She illustrated how parents have had to carry the enormous weight of the pandemic on their shoulders for the past two long, excruciating years.
The obstacles posed by COVID, along with the normal, non-pandemic stressors of being a parent and the pressures of society and social media could make parents feel as if they are not doing enough, she noted. "Please know that it's okay if you're not engaging and playing with your child every moment they're awake," Dr. Amin reminded. "Please know that it's okay if you overuse screen-time if it means you get a break. 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."
She continued, "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. 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' in to your child during tantrums and mealtimes. Please know it's okay to not always follow your plan." Dr. Amin highlighted how many parents were in "survival mode" as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, it is perfectly alright to break some "parenting rules" to get by. She affirmed in conclusion, "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. Please don't let the pressure of doing everything 'perfectly' as a parent consume you."
In response, she has received immense praise and gratitude from parents struggling with the challenges she described. One Instagram user commented, "This post so accurately describes what I've been feeling for almost two years now. The weight of it all is just so heavy." Another added, "Holy, did this hit me in the gut. Permission to just cry. Holding my breath for two years, waiting to breathe." Evidently, Dr. Amin, host of the PedsDocTalk podcast, struck a chord with all those parents out there who want to be perfect for their children. In an interview with GMA, she asserted how imperative it was for parents to think about parenting in the long-term rather than focusing on small moments of screen time, for instance.
"What ruins a kid is that they see a parent who just doesn't take care of themselves at all," she said. "That is what's going to be, to me, the biggest worry." Therefore, she suggested, "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. 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." For Dr. Amin personally, the one big thing that helps her keep moving forward 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 stated. "I really do feel like we're going to come out of this super strong. There's no other way but up."