Parenting is never easy — then when you add on the pandemic, social distancing, and working from home while the niños are distance learning and continuing their education, the challenges of being a parent begin to escalate quickly. Mamás are often the ones who take on the additional burden, and with COVID-19 making it more difficult to get help from Abuela or a sitter, we mamás have to get a bit more creative, without completely sacrificing our parenting lifestyle.
Daniella Rico is one Latina mom who knows this all too well. As a mother of four who usually works from home while her kids are at school, Daniella has now found herself having to balance work with all four kids at home. Safe to say, like many of us, she’s busier than ever these days!
"My new normal is working from home, teaching elementary school while parenting, and worrying about keeping my family safe," she said. "I realized that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to be the perfect 'quarantine parent,' and there is no such thing." Daniella said that when she became a mamá, her own mami was very transparent with her about parenting struggles, giving Daniella some much-needed insight.
"My mom openly shared struggles I never knew about because, in my eyes, she was perfect," Daniella said. "She reminded me that it was okay to lose my patience, it was okay to feel like I wanted to quit some days, and that every mother makes mistakes. Most importantly, she reminded me that it was okay to ask for help. I am now four babies in and I can say for sure there really is no such thing [as a perfect parent]. I remind myself that I am doing my best, and best is good enough daily!"
To help other mamás balance having the kids at home without any help from Abuela or other caregivers, we asked Daniella to give us her top four tips on how to stay sane — along with products she trusts from Target that help support her every day.
One of the best things you can ever do with your niños is ensure you're setting up some type of structure to their day by establishing a routine — Daniella's mamá taught her early on how important this is. “My mom was excellent at establishing a routine for me at a very young age," she said. "The best part was, she made it fun and I didn’t even know she was doing it. She broke down my day by what I should do first, next, and last rather than a strict hourly schedule.”
Daniella said this is especially important during this school year, as children may or may not be heading back into the classroom. "Having a routine helps the busiest days run more smoothly," she said. "I wake up in the morning an hour before my big girls and answer emails, read, or do cardio. That quiet alone time before everyone is awake really sets a positive tone for my day."Daniella also emphasized the importance of adding nap time to that routine for her youngest, and products like the 4moms mamaRoo4 swing make it easier to put down your bebé for a nap. It rocks bebés right to sleep and frees you up to tend to other kids or get some work done.
With many of us still self-isolating, there comes a point in the day when we begin to feel stir-crazy from being cooped in the house for too long. This also very much happens with our kids — they need to get out of the house to let out all that extra energy. "We are the opposite of homebodies," Daniella said. "Our family loved being out and about, so staying home was hard for all of us in the beginning. We love going on family walks and bike rides. My little ones also love going on nature walks where we discover different bugs and leaves. Eating dinner outside picnic-style is a tradition we try to do at least once a month. We went to our first drive-in movie and set up a little picnic in the back of our van and the kids loved it!"
Daniella said that as the weather starts to cool down, they're planning on going apple picking and visiting their local pumpkin patches. "We are still being safe, while still making sure we get the physical and emotional boost we need from the outdoors," she said. Make sure you have all the right gear before you set out on your outdoor adventure, like a good diaper bag and carrier.
A hectic day can leave you with very little time to go shopping for all your needs. Daniella said her secret has been using delivery services and curbside pickups, like Target's free Drive Up service. This is as simple as placing what you want in your cart via Target's mobile app or Target.com, clicking "order now," then waiting for an email that will tell you when your order is ready for pickup. Once ready, you'll head over to your Target, park in one of the designated Drive Up spaces, and wait for your items to be brought out and placed in your trunk for you — no personal contact required. It's perfect when you need to re-up on everyday items like diapers, which mamás know happens much more often than they may have expected.
It's also a great excuse to put your kids in the car and take them along for a fun neighborhood drive. "It is so quick and easy!" Daniella said. "I can't imagine ever taking four kids to the store again. Ask any parent, it's never fun!"
"My mom has always told me not to completely change my lifestyle for my kids, but to get them used to my lifestyle," Daniella said. "It’s honestly my favorite piece of advice!" She said that one of the biggest keys to keeping her children entertained is to have them entertain one another. If you're the mamá of an infant and they can't really be left to their own devices, she suggested activity gyms. "For babies 4 months and up, the Skip Hop Explore & More activity gym is my favorite," she said. "My two youngest absolutely love it. They can stand and play with their toys, and it keeps them both occupied while I get work done." Set it up next to your workspace and let them play away.