Parenting in the Pandemic: Advice from a Mother of 10 (yes, ten)

It’s not going to be a typical Mother’s Day this year. Nothing is typical during these times, perhaps other than having to go with the flow. Whether you are a working mom or a full time mom, tending to the needs of children at home during this pandemic is a constant juggling act. My little boy recently turned one years old. My hands are full, and we haven’t even reached the “terrible twos” yet. When I think about my sisters who have more than one child I remind myself that I have it easy.  Then, I think to my mother who took care of all of us- ten children, every day. Compared to her, we all have it easy!  My mom did it on her own- no nannies, no babysitters. We did have the occasional relative come to help, but it really was all on Mom, with the older kids chipping in on a regular basis.   

Whether you have one or ten children, we are all mothers who simply want the best for our children.  We question, research, and discuss our concerns on a daily basis. We always know there will be surprises that create a never ending list of lessons we learn from these little people who we pour our hearts into.  

I can’t tell you what my top lessons for mothering during this time are yet, because my little one is only one years old.  So instead, I wondered what would my mom say are the most important lessons she learned raising ten kids? I asked her.  Then I asked her if I could share these answers with the hard working mothers out there, in hopes that her lessons would ease any extra worry or concern during these challenging times.  These are my mom’s top seven lessons for mothering:

  1. Choose your battles. You can’t fight about everything. If you do, that is all you will be doing. Pick the thing that means the most to you. The kids will understand that.
  2. Try not to reprimand your children in public. Children should be allowed to make mistakes. That is what this growing up is all about. The whole neighborhood doesn’t need to know about your child’s learning experience, or be given an excuse to label them negatively.
  3. Tell the children your family stories, and not just the good ones. If they see that you or your relatives have fought to overcome troubles, the children will believe they can too.
  4. Don’t tell your kids that you just want them to be happy. Being happy is important, but it is the wrong goal. To be a good person is what they really need to hear. Character, conscience, confidence, and compassion are among the goals they need to be a better person.
  5. Watch what pessimism you reinforce. Sometimes we don’t understand that we can give off negative messages that your kids hear loud and clear!
  6. Self worth is very important. Kids need to believe in themselves and that we are here for a reason. It is not stickers, soccer goals, or 99% in school that gives a child worth. Their whole view of the world and how they fit into it comes from your love and a belief that there never was and never will be another them. They have a unique part to play in history.
  7. Love, love, love! Love can heal any mistake we make. Our children know that we are not perfect- they can see that; but as long as we keep demonstrating to them how loved they are, we won’t fail.

Happy Mother’s Day!