(CBS Local)– Parenting across the country this year has looked a lot different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families are home together and parents are trying to work while kids are distance learning at the same time. Pandemic parenting has its own set of challenges and that is why author and mother Melanie Dale says it’s time for parents to take a step back and lighten up a little bit.

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The author and speaker wrote a new book for Simon & Schuster called “Calm the H*ck Down: How to Let Go and Lighten Up About Parenting” where she writes about how parents are putting too much pressure on themselves and are not enjoying the journey enough. Dale hopes her book can help parents everywhere, especially during one of the most difficult years ever in 2020.

“I actually wrote the book before anything happened in 2020 and it has been really interesting. I just had to reread the book when I was recording the audio version and as I read it, it’s more timely than ever,” said Dale, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “We’ve had a little bit of stuff to calm down from this year. Sense of humor is huge and I really believe that laughter makes us brave. Even though there are some very serious things that we are dealing with, laughter helps me to keep a better perspective about life. I’ve really focused on cultivating a home filled with laughter.”

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Dale was recently struggling to find joy and laughter in the struggle, so she decided to buy a life-size blow up Christmas decoration for her yard. The author brought home Will Ferrell’s character from “Elf,” Buddy The Elf and she loves pulling into her driveway and seeing that ridiculous decoration every single day.

“Every time I come into the driveway and I’m upset or things are hard and then I see a six foot life size Will Ferrell in his little yellow tights in my yard and I bust out laughing,” said Dale. “That’s just one way with the holidays on top of the pandemic on top of kids and school that has helped me lighten up. It took us about 12 years to accrue our children. I went through a long battle with infertility and then I finally had my son who is 13 now. Then we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia when she was two and then we adopted our oldest daughter from Latvia. We have three kids from three continents that were out of order and we’ve had a lot to learn to calm down about.”

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Dale’s book is available wherever books are sold and watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.