As a pediatrician and mom of a 2-year-old son, Dr. Mona Amin has held two different roles throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Florida-based doctor and founder of PedsDocTalk tells Yahoo Life that guiding the parents of her patients through a pandemic while worrying about her own family has been exhausting.
"One of the hardest things is managing the unknown while helping others manage the unknown," she explains. "I'm a mom and I'm a pediatrician, so I have mothers and fathers coming into my office asking me all these questions that I don't have the answers to and it's really hard."
"As pediatricians, we know a lot of things about what to do when a kid gets sick," Amin explains, "but we don't have a crystal ball and in this pandemic, none of us know what things are going to look like and it's always rapidly changing."
Amin's own son, Ryaan, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, and while he's recovering well, seeing her child fall sick brought a new level of stress to her life. Amin took to Instagram recently to share a message to her fellow pandemic parents.
"I was asked the other day in my stories, 'How can I help my child cope with everything right now,'" Amin wrote in the post. "Frankly, I am more concerned about us than our kids."
Amin addressed the struggles parents have faced during the last two years, from a lack of reliable childcare to worries about others in the community not doing their part to keep kids safe. When parents feel overwhelmed by stress, she said in the post, they often turn to social media, where they see projected images of "perfect" parents.
"Sometimes, the overload will make you feel like you are not doing enough," she wrote in the post, which has been liked more than 30,000 times. "Please know that it's OK if you're not engaging and playing with your child every moment they're awake. Please know that it's OK if you overuse screen time if it means you get a break ... Please know it's OK if you decide not to be consistent with a boundary because you're exhausted."
Amin went on to encourage parents to let go of the pressure to parent perfectly, saying true "perfection in parenting" involves knowing when to be OK with operating in "survival mode" and focusing on your own mental health.
"It's OK to think about what you need to get through this pandemic," she said. "It's OK to think about how you are feeling and how this pandemic is affecting you."
Amin says she wrote the post because, as the Omicron variant spreads, she's seeing increased anxiety both in her patients and on social media. And, she can relate.
"The biggest thing has been balancing my own personal anxieties in my life and having to be that comfort for so many families when they're unraveling in my office," she says. "Trying to help people when you actually need help as well is tough: I'm not some superhero that knows something you all don't know — I'm also dealing with COVID and I'm also trying to figure out childcare and I'm also having to help you figure it out."
Amin says she's had to make peace with things like letting her son have too much screen time and eating frozen meals for dinner because she needs a break.
"Your child won't be destroyed or damaged by having moments where you break the rules," she says. "You have to do what is best for your family with the resources you have and let go of the guilt and the screen time rules and the 'overuse of sugar' rules. I'm not talking about never having boundaries, I'm talking about phases of survival — knowing when to stick to your boundaries and when your mental health needs you to let those go."
She also warns against spending too much time scrolling social media, comparing your parenting style to others.
"You don't need the negativity of putting too many expectations on yourself or of toxic relationships," Amin says. "And social media accounts? You need to mute them or unfollow them for the time being if they are affecting you in the tough spot you are in. Block yourself from things that are not serving you."
Amin says most of all, she wants other parents to cut themselves some slack. She hopes by sharing her post, she'll heed her own words and give herself some grace, too.
"You need to protect your mental health," she continues. "I'm not worried about these kids, I'm worried that we are falling into a spiral."
"Don't worry about trying to make everything so perfect," she says. "You are in survival mode. I am in survival mode. I have pressured myself so much, but parents we all need to do what's important for our mental health right now."
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