Pandemic Parenting

UPDATE: Just a quick note to add that things have changed SO much since I posted this blog!

My salsa-dancing 20 year-old was placed in curfew in Puerto Rico and we worried that she wasn’t going to get back to the states! Thankfully, she’s made it to California, where her school has closed for the remainder of the year. She’s packing up her life and storing it for the time being, and driving home this weekend.

Our other three children have just received news that their school is closed until late April (so that’s now FIVE weeks of hanging in our house together… There was a REASON I never homeschooled my children, but I think we’re all going to have to get used to the idea now!)

And I have been fast at work to create a Hybrid/Facilitated Online Childbirth Education Series with one of my employers that we’re hoping will be up and running soon. Those of us who work with expecting and new parents are scrambling to find ways to continue to support you! This course will have current, evidence-based information, taught by Educators who have a combined total of 100+ years of Childbirth Education behind them! My private classes will all be going on-line soon. This opens up the idea of being able to hold these classes with people who couldn’t make it because they aren’t in the PDX area. These are intense times!

If you can, try to move through the world right now from a place of openness and generosity rather than being closed off and in fear. It is compassion and empathy that will allow us all to make it through this period of uncertainty. Thinking and holding all of you in my thoughts and in my heart!

I have four children ranging in age from 20, almost-18, 14 and soon-to-be-11. The responses they’ve had to the Coronavirus have varied wildly. 

My 10-year-old asked me last night if he was going to die. “No, you’re not. Most people who have tested positive for this virus have mild to moderate symptoms and fully recover after a couple of weeks. On top of that, kids under the age of 19 are really not being affected.” 

My 14-year-old was bummed that her classes have been cancelled next week, “I’m going to be soooooo bored. What am I supposed to do if I can’t see all of my friends?!” 

My almost-18-year-old, the one paying closest attention to media headlines, is concerned about whether or not his graduation might be cancelled — in June! “I’m not sure. I hope we’ll be able to gather together as a community to celebrate all of you as you get ready to head off to college.”

And my 20-year-old is with her five roommates in Puerto Rico for Spring Break, eating mofongo, dancing salsa and getting a sunburn on the gorgeous beaches of her father’s country.

So what does this mean for me as Momma to these four glorious children of mine? What am I supposed to do for them?

What I’m ALWAYS supposed to do… meet them where they’re at. 

Reassure my little guy, Félix. Hold Lucía’s disappointment and provide empathy about not being able to be as social as she’d like (the “extremeovert” in me really gets this). Balance expectation and reality for Alejandro and hope that things will get better and we’ll be able to acknowledge his accomplishments fully. And, finally, celebrate (and admit that I’m a little bit jealous!) that Elisa is living it up as only someone her age can!

As parents we’ll always feel a sense of intense vulnerability — no matter the age or stage of development of our children. We only want the best for our littles. News Flash: they never stop being our littles! I texted my own Momma today to let her know that I’ve effectively been laid off for the time being (gathering pregnant people together for face-to-face classes is not a great idea during a pandemic!) and I could read her desire to reassure me from thousands of miles away.

We’re not given any guarantees in this work we do creating, birthing, and parenting the next generation. I know what we’re all going through right now can create spikes in our cortisol and put us all on edge as we try to do the “right” thing, the “best” thing, any-thing that insures that nothing bad will ever happen to these babies we love so much. 

But the “right” thing, the “best” thing you can do for your babies is find a way to care for yourself first. 

What does this mean? Here are a few ideas:

  • Limit the amount of media, social or otherwise, that you consume daily
  • Get outside — even if it’s only for a five-minute walk around the block
  • Listen to music and sing all the lyrics you can remember (loud & proud)
  • Move your body: shake out the tension from head to toe 
  • Rest/Meditate— but let someone else guide you (have you tried Yoga Nidra yet?)
  • BREATHE: nice, big inhales with an emphasis on the sighed out exhale lets your body know that you’re okay — because in this moment, you are okay

When you take care of yourself first, you’re better able to take care of your babies: the babies still waiting to be born, the babies that are anxious about so many things that this just gets added to the list, the babies that find this whole situation a nuisance to their social life, the babies that worry about how this will affect them as they reach for the next big thing, and the babies that are out in the world and enjoying their lives in spite of it all!

I know this can be a scary time. I know your feelings of vulnerability are being tested. Now, more than ever, please look for support — and ask for help! It might mean having a virtual hangout with friends or family instead of an in-person gathering, but knowing how much you’re loved and (more importantly) sharing your love and concern for others, is one of the best ways to increase a sense of calm in the midst of chaos. 

It’s in times like these, we can lean on one another in our collective humanity to hold each other up and move forward… together

Please know that I’m holding all of you parents, my people, in my heart — now, and always. 

Here’s a couple of articles you might find helpful as you parent during this pandemic: Surviving Motherhood: Parenting During a Pandemic & Coronavirus Tag? The Pandemic Has Become Part Of Kids’ Playtime

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