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Parenting During a Pandemic

We’re all doing our best to maintain some semblance of normalcy, but let’s be honest. For those of us with kids, the routines we depend on have been totally upended.

Normally (when there isn’t a global pandemic), I make the breakfasts and lunches in the morning, and my wife gets our toddlers dressed. Thankfully my wife’s job, my daughter’s Kindergarten, and my 3-year-old’s babysitter are all in the same place. Once they leave the house, I head up to our office in Mahwah.

Now, my office, my wife’s office, the Kindergarten and the babysitter are all in the same place — our house. Each of these used to have their own respective time and place, and there was little to no interference between them. Now, time and space have collided; we’re still employees from 9-5, but we’re parents, teachers, and babysitters from 9-5, too. Everything is getting done that needs to get done, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult. 

So How Are We Surviving? 

The first thing I had to remember early on in this quarantine is that my wife is my teammate. That’s easy to remember when we have a game plan in place, but in these unusual times, we have a special obligation to support each other and to be flexible with each other. That means I might have to step away from an important task to watch the kids so she can take a call, and vice versa. When I see the kids interrupting her work to ask for a snack, I have the opportunity to jump in and handle it. Sometimes she has to pause to help our oldest with her homework or I might have to spend 10 minutes figuring out why her iPad won’t stream her classes. 

Second, I have to be careful about how I talk to my kids. It can be frustrating when they start fighting over a toy in the next room while I’m on a conference call or wander into the room during a video meeting (now I know how this guy felt). As important as my work is, they have no idea the added stress we’re under as parents right now, and it’s not their intent to make it worse. A friend of mine posted a quote that really helped shift my thinking, and I hope it’ll do the same for you:

“Embrace your children while they’re home from school…don’t make them feel as though they’re a burden. The house can be cleaned, the food can be replaced, the light bill will be paid…don’t speak to them as if they’re the reason your life is a mess. It’s easier to build strong children than to fix broken adults.”

Let’s focus on the opportunity here rather than the challenge — we can appreciate our spouses more, tell our kids we love them more, laugh with each other more and serve each other more. Here’s to hoping that our families come out of this closer and stronger. Now if you’ll excuse me, my kids are literally asking me to make their lunch right now. 🙂

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