Parenting in a Pandemic

I find myself laying in bed at night thinking to myself, “I’m going to do better tomorrow”. I think of the times throughout the day that I lost my temper with my daughter, was on my phone too much, was short with my husband, had the tv on too much. “I’m going to do better tomorrow.”

For those of you reading years from now and you might remember, a virus has spread globally without a vaccine or medicine. It is fatally dangerous to the elder and people with autoimmune disorders. Schools, restaurants (except drive thru’s and take out), libraries - most everything is closed besides grocery stores and medical facilities. We have been told by the president that we should not be closer than six feet to someone, called “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The world as we know it is a bit different these days and for who knows how long. I find myself wondering if we will go back to normal but push my thoughts somewhere else. I try not to think outside the walls of our home to focus on my family and not get myself too down. Call it naive, I call it trying to stay sane.

Being confined to our homes, only being able to see friends and family on FaceTime. Social distancing has left us feeling lonely and depressed. We have to tell our kids that they can’t go to school or to their friends house to play. Luckily my four year old has likely forgotten what life used to be like. My eight month old only cares about eating, sleeping and why I’m not in the room with her. Most of us are not so lucky and find ourselves as homeschool teachers now, wearing many hats we have never worn before. We are our kid’s school teachers, coaches, church leaders, art teachers AND best friends these days (let that last one sink in for a second).

As I laid in bed, thinking to myself “I’ll do better tomorrow” and filled my head with negativity, I reminded myself that this will likely never happen again. My oldest daughter will never be home all day, every day with nothing to do. She’s heading off to kindergarten soon too, which is a whole other soft spot. My youngest daughter will never be eight months old again. My husband will never be working from home again, able to play with the girls during his breaks and have lunch as a family every day. This time is something to cherish, not wish away so we can get back to the hustle and bustle of our past lives. It makes you wonder - is a global pandemic what it took to make us SLOW DOWN and enjoy life, our kids, our husband, ourself (gasp) more?

I’m not a parenting expert by any means, but I have found a few tips to keep a sense of normalcy and break up the monotony to the days. I’m also not one to let all structure fly out the window so it’s helped me to have at least some semblance to one to help the days go by (I almost put “quicker” here but stopped myself) smoother.

Our days are divided into “blocks”:

8-10 - wake up, hygiene routine, breakfast, free play, TV

10-12 - structured activities - coloring, puzzles, crafts, music in the background, no TV during this time

12-1:30 - lunch, play before naps

1:30-4 - naps

4-5:30 - outside activity - walk/bicycle

5:30 - 7 - cook dinner, TV for kiddos while cooking, turn off TV for dinner

7-8 - bedtime routines

8-10 - spouse time (we’ve been watching the Marvel movies in chronological order)

Also some general daily tips:

  1. Do not stay in pajamas all day. Even if you wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, get dressed. This goes for kids too - our oldest loves putting on summer dresses even though we’re inside all day.
  2. Brush your teeth
  3. Take a shower
  4. Cook at least one meal and enjoy as a family
  5. Play music to avoid silence
  6. FaceTime with one family member and one friend
  7. Go outside for at least one hour
  8. Attend a local business virtual meeting (church, museum, story time, etc)
  9. Do one chore per day (involve your kids too - this can be a small organization project, laundry, clean one room, etc.) Don’t tackle everything at once - we have time
  10. Have a virtual happy hour with friends

We will get through this, dear friends. Take it day by day and don’t think about tomorrow.

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