The Pandemic Parenting Guidebook

  1. Don’t listen to any one else with parenting advice. Especially parents who have kids who are grown and not living at home. They have never parented hardcore in a pandemic. I say this with love to all the baby boomers. Unless you’re beaming and saying “You’re doing great!” then shut it. With love.
  2. If you decide to send your kids back to school you’re right.
  3. If you decide to keep your kids home you’re right.
  4. If you decide to sign in voluntarily to an inpatient psychiatric unit (yes we are open) then you are also right.
  5. If you decide to have a birthday party for your child and write to the other kid’s parents about the precautions you are taking and let them decide for themselves then you are right.
  6. If you decide to attend a child’s birthday knowing the risks then you are right.
  7. If your kids miss their school/friends/relatives they are not alone and you are doing the best you can to comfort them.
  8. If your kids spend more time on screens than ever before. Don’t sweat it. They will survive. What’s important is that you survive too.
  9. If you randomly break down and cry because you see your kids wearing masks, you see your kids unable to hug a family member, you see your kids entering a new school alone because you’re not allowed in, or any of the crazy experiences parents have never had and never expected to have…you are right. You are entitled to suffer for yourself and for your children.
  10. If you need therapy or an increase in your meds or to restart your meds…do it. You are right. You are valid.

I’ve had so many parenting experiences since March that I never thought I’d have. I’ve had experiences with my own mom I’ve never thought I would have. She and I attended a pandemic funeral. She had never been to a funeral wearing a mask. And honestly for all those people bitching about wearing masks, my mom wears hearing aids. She can’t see people’s mouths now and the masks are wicked uncomfortable around her hearing aids. She still wears them and doesn’t complain. Because she’s not stupid. My four year olds also wear them without complaint. FOUR year olds. So seriously. I can’t.

Parenting is hard on a good day. People say stupid shit about parenting on a good day. “You asked for this,” “This was voluntary”. During a pandemic…Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I wanted to keep the boys home with a baby-sitter for the Summer. Well they revolted and acted like these horrific little creatures I have never met before. They literally forced the baby-sitter out and daily told me they wanted to go back to school. We put them back in school. Then at school we have to contend with all the things of a preschool.

I have to get notes from the pediatrician so they can use lotion sunscreen instead of spray (Spray gave them red raw patches on their necks…so yeah). I have to explain that they can still hug each other at home because they are brothers even though they are taught all day by their teacher to not touch any one because of germs.

I’ve had to explain why I don’t like guns and Black lives matter and one of them actually explained it to me rather cogently the other day, “Mama you don’t like guns because some times the police get the wrong person when they are going after monsters. And they use guns and go…pew pew pew…to the wrong person instead of the monsters.” I mean it’s not a perfect explanation of racism and racial profiling but it’s not bad for a four year old.

We then saw police. Live and in person at a store in the parking lot. The boys both started yelling excitedly about the “guns” and the “monsters”. With their Elsa masks on while I was trying to drag them into Joann Fabrics (to buy more mask fabric) trying not to draw attention to them. As they yelled. About guns.

I’ve been working on making masks in bulk for my niece who is potentially going back to elementary school this Fall. Never in my life did I think that I would be making masks for my niece to go to school. It feels sad.

I’ve been so sick of my kids from working at home and having them home and then I worry about them at preschool being exposed. Being in a place I’ve never been inside of. With teachers who don’t want to put on lotion sunscreen because of the pandemic. Then the boys tell me they are scared to poop at the new preschool because “It’s too small”. I mean what does that even mean?! Do I call the school and ask about the spec’s of the toilets?! Then what if they do poop…teachers who don’t even want to put on lotion sunscreen; are they helping them wipe?!

These are the things on the mind of a parent during a pandemic.

I did bring the boys to a birthday party. The kids are all in their preschool class so they were all kids they were already exposed to and it was outside. It was great. The mom’s and myself and the Dad that was there were all respectful of everyone’s decisions. The kids were stoked to be at a party being normal. And honestly so was I. It was nice to feel normal. I did throw two Elsa masks in with the present for the birthday girl. But other than that we could forget about COVID for a little while.

Not everyone from their class went. And that’s okay.

Parenting pandemic style is like parenting on a good day but you know that point when you’ve been with them for eight hours and you’re counting on your spouse to come through the door and you get a text that they have to stay four hours late for work and you simultaneously want to cry/scream/drop to the floor/tantrum/run away/hide/laugh maniacally….yeah that feeling right when you read that text and your stomach drops…that’s parenting in a pandemic.

So cut yourself some slack. Don’t listen to the “Should’s”. Don’t listen to the negativity and try and remember that the pandemic in 1918 did end. Kids survived and grew up and were not defined by the pandemic. We have hard decisions to make. Don’t underestimate the stress of these decisions. Because there is no right answer.

Going to the birthday party or not going. No right answer. Well, if I were in a state with a massive outbreak then I wouldn’t have gone. But my state is currently doing okay. Oh and I didn’t bring their bathing suits. So yes those were my two sons running naked around the yard through the sprinkler, kiddy pools, and into the moon bounce.

Going to school…no right answer.

Trust your gut. Love your kid. Kiss them good-night. Explain not to scream about guns when they see police officers in a parking lot. And remember there are funny moments. Because kids in general are resilient, balls of energy, and fun. My kids push me beyond my breaking point a lot. But they also bring a smile to my face in times of darkness. They are the light in these dark times. Remember that our youth are our future and they will not be defined by a pandemic. But they will grow into the person you parent during a pandemic.