I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished there was a guidebook for parenting. 

Sure, there are books about being pregnant and sleep training and raising toddlers, then big kids, then teens—but they don’t cover the important stuff. The most complicated stuff. The how to know what’s right or how to survive exhaustion or how to overcome the guilt stuff that comes with parenting. 

And if parenting on a good day is tough—parenting during a global pandemic is a straight up beast. The word hard doesn’t really even suffice.

To complicate things, the world (well, social media) is probably telling you what your days “should” look like. And those shoulds are often the exact opposite of what your heart and sanity are telling you to do. 

So in case you’re looking for direction and permission to breathe, allow me to say this:

Right now, the “right” way to parent is whatever helps you make it through the day. 

Read that again.

Shouldn’t you use quarantine to teach your kids how to cook a few meals from scratch? Or is it actually OK if you’re ordering in and letting your kids help you finish an entire pan of brownies in one sitting?

Whatever you need to do to get through the day.

RELATED: You Have Enough on Your Plate Right Now Mama, Don’t Add Guilt

Shouldn’t you take your kids outside and go on scavenger hunts for heart-shaped rocks and Rollie Pollies? Or are you allowed to plop the family down in front of the TV for a movie marathon . . . even though you binge-watched Disney+ just yesterday?

Whatever you need to do to get through the day.

Shouldn’t you take advantage of the time at home and do all the spring cleaning you’ve put off since, like, LAST spring? Or is it OK if you let the house get messier than ever and refuse to match socks?

Whatever you need to do to get through the day.

Shouldn’t you stay on track with your kids’ homeschool assignments so they don’t fall way behind? Or can you tap out for a few hours and take a break for the sake of everyone’s mental health?

Whatever you need to do to get through the day.

RELATED: To the Overwhelmed Mom Who Feels Like She’s Failing

Shouldn’t you cherish this uninterrupted extra time with your kids home—you know, enjoy every moment? Or is it OK if you’re going a little crazy and need to shut yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace? 

Whatever you need to do to get through the day.

Seriously. 

You don’t need to impress anyone with your crafting or planning or organizing or fun-making or optimism or . . . anything, really. 

Your main goal when you wake up each morning should just be to get through the day.

Please note that I’m not telling you to blindly rush through, though, because some of these days are actually going to be really beautiful. 

But on the days that are especially tough, it’s okay to just get by. This is not the time to let shoulds and guilt dictate your life. 

Wash your hair today—or don’t. 

Do some puzzles with the kids—or don’t. 

Make a healthy meal for dinner—or don’t

Curl up on the couch and watch movies—or don’t. 

RELATED: I’m Tired of Going to Sleep Thinking, “I’ll Do Better Tomorrow.”

Remember that you know your family best. Love them in the way that only you can, and hold on tight to each other as you navigate this crazy, unpredictable season. 

There is no guide to pandemic parenting, and it is so dang hard—but it turns out your mama heart is a pretty good compass.

Take a deep breath and let it lead.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward