Parenting in Quarantine

Let me start by saying this is not a broad-brush approach to how you should or could or even want to raise your kids in a time that none of us can escape.

My kids are 10,12,14 and 16 years old. So if you are “momming” littles you have just rolled your eyes and uttered the words, “must be nice.” To which I affirm that statement because YES! Yes, it is slightly simpler to be self isolated with a tween who can wipe down the countertops than with a toddler who is climbing on them and requiring my constant and full attention.

So while the implementation of my thoughts below might show up different depending on your age and stage, I think the heart beat of my communication might land and offer a little hope for your home.

Three things that have helped us thrive in a time we could only hope to survive.

1. Play.

The importance for play for kids is documented. But adults? Really? How? I’ve often looked at play as irresponsible or a waste of my time. But in recent years I’ve come to truly value the practice of reducing the stress in my life by making space to play. This isn’t just about going on a shopping spree or stepping on the greens for a round of golf. It’s about letting loose and letting go of the many things that are cultivating stress. What are you trying to control? Can you give way to a few minutes or maybe an hour and do something that seems otherwise childish? In quarantine that’s looked like cranking up our favorite music and dancing in the middle of the living room. We’ve hopped on the bikes and screamed at the top of our lungs as we rode through the neighborhood laughing at the fools we are with masks on our face. It’s been wall ball or a few board games, whatever it takes to find rejuvenation from the daily stress.

2. Talk.

In our home we have attempted to stick to somewhat of a schedule. Keeping a sense of ‘normalcy,’ though clearly my kids are old enough to know it’s NOT, has worked for us. Most of our kids even like some structure, while they might have a funny way of showing it. Throughout the day and the in between times, I’m looking for every opportunity to connect. In times of uncertainty, this is important to me. We’ve attempted to make dinner a transition time between the “school day” and the evening. Dinner is a great time to gather the whole family together to talk and share a meal. We try to start by talking about the typical of highs and lows throughout the home. Sometimes recapping what we already know seems ridiculous, but it gets the conversation started. That has led to deeper emotions most days. Acknowledging the challenging emotions they are feeling right now is an incredible act of empathy. You’re establishing a relationship that is not one of control. I’ve enjoyed meeting them where they are – and though on any give day we are in different places, we have commonly all experienced the grief, the sadness and the fear. Through the discussion of these emotions and the group chats with toes under the table, I am learning new and meaningful things about each kid I may have otherwise missed.

3. Say yes!

I mean, not always. But time in quarantine has brought perspective on what really matters and which mountains are really worth dying on. My 14-year-old is growing into a beautiful young women with new interests and desires. We have talked about everything from her desire to travel for missions work across the globe, to her love for clothes and creating new ways to do braids. When she over heard me searching YouTube tutorials on how to trim my bangs she was quick to chime in. “I can do that mom. I know I can.” If the salons were open and I could just hop over for a quick trim from my stylist pre-isolation, it would have been an obvious “NO!” But considering the circumstances and the fact that it’s just hair, I said, “Sure Tate! Why not?” It was such a fun bonding moment. She did a good job. But regardless, that simple yes built some respect and trust with my ever evolving teenage daughter. These are the moments we can embrace what might be a quick no and consider a YES!