Today is my daughter’s fifth birthday. She’s been planning her birthday party since Christmas and the only thing she’s asked for is to get her ears pierced. I promised her we could do that and have a fun party with all her friends but that was all before I knew the world would be under a pandemic.
How could anyone have predicted this predicament we are in? I’ve tried making her birthday as special as possible and tried explaining the situation to her but it isn’t easy. She is taking it in strides and seems to be holding up okay but this has been tough.
Explaining COVID-19 to young children is difficult. My daughter often says she isn’t sick so it doesn’t make sense why she can’t go out. Children have been cooped up for a couple of months now and most don’t fully grasp why. It’s tough. Kids thrive on routines. They miss their friends, their old way of life and going out.
Switching up school to virtual learning is also hard on them. Can you imagine taking several online courses while sharing a computer with a sibling and possibly having poor rural internet connectivity? I also feel for the parents who have to relearn high school math to help their kids. I couldn’t imagine doing calculus right now.
Most parents are also working from home while trying to do this. I’m sort of homeschooling a preschooler right now, I’m not sure it really counts but it isn’t easy either. I superglued a googly eye to my finger the other day and discovered my daughter has the attention span of a goldfish. She often tells me she misses her teacher. Me too, kid, me too.
But I think this is the time when we need to give our kids more grace than ever. I’m currently my daughters’ main outlet for social interaction. I’m happy they are young enough to still want to hang out with me, but I still feel for them.
During this quarantine, I’m figuring out that it is important to keep up the interactive playtime such as board games and arts and crafts. Also, knowing when to give them space to play alone is equally important. My daughter enjoys a bit of alone time in the afternoon when the baby naps and I need the breathing room too. I’m thankful she likes to sit quietly and play with her dolls sometimes.
Encouraging exercise can also be healthy. When my girls are getting cranky, going outside and taking a mini nature walk almost always helps, even if just for the moment. When I was younger my dad would always tell me that fresh air and exercise solved everything. I hated hearing this as a teenager, but now I think there might be something to it.
Additionally, don’t forget about your own mental health. Kids are like sponges and can pick up on your distress. It is easy to just worry about your kids but you need a break too. Working from home, taking care of the kids, keeping up with housework, trying to go to the grocery store without being shamed for it on Facebook, homeschooling, and keeping your children sane will take a toll on anyone. Be kind to yourself.
There is no right or wrong way to get through this global pandemic and everyone’s family situation is different, but I hope we can get through this without any long-term effects on our children or ourselves.