Pandemic Parenting

Ashley Gibbs tells her story about parenting during the pandemic for Mother's Day.

It took a solid 34 days, but my four children did finally stop asking, “What are we going to do tomorrow,” and have resigned themselves to this new normal. We have all settled in and surrendered in a way. Actually, I continue to be surprised at how regular our new routines (or lack thereof) seem to have become, when really it is everything but. We should be heading into the last few weeks of school, finishing up soccer, prepping for a dance recital, and rounding out another year of club volleyball. Instead, we are climbing trees, doing lots of fishing, and spending an excessive amount of time talking to our dogs. If presented with this possibility in the midst of our hectic fall schedule, uninterrupted time together would have seemed like a dream come true. However, living during a global pandemic is probably not exactly the “family time” so many of us imagined for ourselves.

There is a little recording that occasionally plays in my head, that we should be soaking up these days with our kids. I think that I am to some extent, but it also seems like way too much pressure to make sure this is the most magical time of our children’s childhoods, as several social media posts suggest. I do often wonder what parts of all this they are really taking in, what will stand out the most when we look back on our quarantine. Surely they will remember having to carefully wipe down the groceries, learning to mop and do laundry, and the line drills we have been running in the mornings to get rid of some of their extra energy (everyone is more agreeable if they are a tad worn out). Then of course, there is the at home learning. I wish that I could tell you we stick to a carefully mapped out schedule—we don’t. They do get their work done though, and I know they are learning new things, such as practicing fractions by cutting up fruit, and state capitals by asking Siri. One thing I hope they will carry with them is a strengthened appreciation for their school. They truly miss their teachers, coaches, and friends. For the record, I miss them too!

My kids have seen task force updates, worn a mask for a doctor’s visit, and haven’t hugged their grandparents in seven weeks. They know we are living in a unique and scary time that needs to be taken seriously. They also are easily distracted by chasing each other through the house, a game of four-square, or a zoom call with friends. I am thankful for that.

Parenting is never without its high-highs and low-lows, especially these days. When the house is semi-clean, the kids are getting along, and the sun is shining, life starts looking up. Then the low can creep in. I’ll find myself feeling sad over all we are missing, everyone getting stir crazy, and the news being too heavy. That is when you have to turn on your happy music, tell the kids they can either go play in the yard or you’ll give them a job in the kitchen, and keep the focus on what is most important. So hug those you can, play a game of slap jack, or put together a puzzle. We have to “make our own fun,” as I tell mine when they are restless, and get those kids outside running some sprints! 

Ashley interviews Griffin, Cannon, Reese and Palmer.


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