Parenting Through a Pandemic
This week has got me thinking about what it is like parenting through a pandemic. We are halfway into week #3 of self-isolating / social distancing, and the daily challenges can often feel overwhelming, especially when there is no clear end in sight.
As most of my readers who follow my parenting posts know, I have one child. He is 6 years old. In the best of times parenting my magnificent bundle of wild energy can be a feat, but with the COVID-19 Pandemic, we face what feels like insurmountable challenges. There are no play dates (other than virtual), no playground romps, no trips to the museums or the aquarium, and no outings to our beloved Riverdale Farm. School is cancelled indefinitely, recreational classes have also been cancelled or bravely moved to an online platform, and weekly family gatherings have been postponed to the very distant future. Every routine we lovingly spent time establishing and building with our child pre-pandemic has been entirely altered. As mentioned in my previous post When Life Makes a 180, life definitely made a 180.
I know we are not the only family affected by this, and that Canada is not the only country affected by this – hence the decree of a global pandemic. This is global. This is impacting every individual, every family that shares this planet and calls it home. We are a united world. We are all in this pandemic together. Yet, because of this pandemic, we are also very much alone. What does that look like? What will we take away from this living piece of history? By scaling these overwhelming thoughts down to a far more personal level, I have begun to contemplate what our home-life looks like during this pandemic – or – more specifically what our parenting looks like during a pandemic. What my parenting looks like; and I wonder what my son will remember / take away from this living piece of history?
I have been thinking of this a lot, of late, because there is simply so much time for thinking (and over-thinking); and pondering this has made me take a step back from the midst of our situation and observe. I find I am watching my son in moments of quiet, moments of robust energy, and moments of joy and sadness. Pausing to observe how we are functioning [at home] has made me realize that how we – as parents – govern this pandemic at home, is what our children will remember. Our behaviour in this very unique situation will be the lasting imprint. Our children will not remember the economic impacts or the uncertainty of our society. Instead, they will remember the many emotions felt in this confusing and altered time. It is for this reason (well, one of many) why child psychologists, child psychiatrists, parenting experts, and child educators are all stressing the importance of creating a safe environment for our children to thrive in. And I get it! Making my child feel safe and secure is my top priority – but – it has always been my top priority. This global shift, which we are all navigating is creating a new – albeit temporary – normal. Having experienced my own personal strife of creating a new normal after a cancer diagnosis, I felt I had somewhat of an advantage. I instinctively knew what I needed to do to enhance my child’s feelings of security, and create a new normal for my child to thrive in – a new normal for our everyday life at home. Because, home is the only place we can be.
What does this look like? This conscious choice of carving out a new normal? It looks like stability, enrichment, and love. It is patience, diligence, commitment, and investment. It is also honesty – being truthful about how we are feeling and how best to support those [sometimes] overwhelming emotions – comforting each other, talking out our worries, our fears, and our frustrations. We find ways of being constructive and creative. We take time to learn. We take time to read. We take time to play. We take time to dance. We take time to doodle. We take time to explore. We take time to relax. And the most important element in all of this, is that we are doing it together. We are connecting as a family, encouraging special moments spent together; encouraging words of comfort, praise, reassurance, and love.
When my son looks back on this time of his life, I want him to remember the care, commitment, honesty, and love we shared as a family. I want him to remember the fun we had doing Lunch Doodles with Mo; dancing to the rhythms of Michael Jackson; Star Wars movie marathons; Scholastic Learn from Home; and Star Wars workbooks. I want him to remember the creative play, the dress-ups, the games, and the jigsaw puzzles we did. I want him to remember the laughs, the hugs, the high-fives, and the stories shared. I want him to think of this time – this pandemic – not as a burden, but as a pivotal moment in his life: that moment when family truly meant more than anything in the world; and that compassion and empathy were/are the beacons that light the way.
This is my parenting through a pandemic. This is my truth.
Parenting Through a Pandemic. Published by Crystal Joy Hall
Featured Image: Kristin De Soto