Our First Pandemic

There are many families that are separated by divorce and if both parents don’t live near each other how do you really handle something like Coronavirus?

Right now most children across the U.S. are out of school until March 27th at least.  These children are doing digital learning.  Many daycares are closed, so there aren’t any camps to send the children to ether.  This means that if a parent is in a critical role where they HAVE to work each day they have to find alternate methods of childcare.  This is even harder when there’s only one parent in the local area to share the burden with.  Some parents are in essential employments which means their hours may have extended.  Some parents may get sick and that means hospitalizations or just resting at home.  This time out of work changes finances, which can further burden the parent who is making sure their children are taken care of on a daily basis.

This is a scary time for children.  Children thrive with routine.  They thrive knowing what’s going to happen each day.  I know that my children go to bed best when they have the same routine every night before bed.  They have no issues getting ready for school when they know what their day is going to be like.  Children after a divorce don’t get the luxury of having the same routine 365 days a year.  These children have to establish routines at each house.  These routines can be totally different or the parents can work together and keep the same routine/bedtime in place.  A clear indicator that the routines are not similar is when the child goes between homes and throws temper tantrums and fits because they don’t get their way.

Think about it this way…when you are faced with a challenge (i.e. an affair, injury, death) what do you hold onto for normalcy?  Many people want to go back to work as soon as they can and get back into their “daily routine!”  That routine of showering, brushing your teeth, driving, working, etc. helps you feel more normal and able to handle the psychological challenges associated with your problems.  Now, think about having this challenge while you’re homeless, jobless, food-less, etc.  You have nothing to hold onto but your thoughts that are so all over the place.  Your anxiety will creep up.  This anxiety is a hard beast to face.  I know whenever I feel like it’s just too much I go running.  You know how some people just soak in a tub when they’re anxious?  Yeah, well, I anxiously await the end of my bath!  It’s just too long doing nothing.  So, I run.  During the most stressful time of my life I was training for marathons.  I weighed less than I did in college after having three children.  I was searching for that normalcy which meant a very structured life with my kids & focusing on their routine & my daily runs.

I know that many parents think that having a child get used to a variety of circumstances is what’s best for their child but that’s not necessarily the case.  Children have a fear of the unknown.  Many times children ask “are we there yet?” over and over.  It’s not to bother you, although they are amazing at accomplishing that!  Just the other day my daughter’s teacher, to get them ready for the big change of digital learning for a couple of weeks, asked the class what their biggest challenge was in their lives.  She told me that every child who went through their parents divorcing stated that was their biggest challenge.  That’s hard to hear as a parent.  You’re supposed to be what your children lean on.  You’re supposed to be their rock.  But, after a divorce, you’re the cause of their biggest challenge.  I don’t know about anyone else, but that made me feel like the worst parent.  Could I have done more?  How could I have made the transition smoother?  Should I have taken her on more one on one dates?  Should we have cuddled more?  Is it too late to help her realize that challenge wasn’t her fault?

These same questions are what children have about something like the Coronavirus.  There’s such a focus on keeping everything clean, keeping your distance, being prepared, etc.  There are grown adults fighting in stores over products that they feel they NEED when in reality a simple Google search can assist in alternate ways to wipe your bottom!

  1. Paper (Hellllllllooooo newspaper! It doesn’t have to be soft.  Suck it up.)
  2. Bidet (This is AMAZING & oh so wonderful. It’s a shame we left these in Europe because they are AMAZINGLY refreshing!)
  3. Bum Gun (Asia’s version of a bidet but a little less fancy)
  4. Cloth rags (Similar to cloth diapering – just don’t flush them! Your washer can handle them.)
  5. CVS Receipts (I mean…they’re crazy long & no one uses every coupon!)
  6. Your HAND! (That’s right. Your hand.  While gross, it’ll get the job done & it’s washable.)

The key things to remember when dealing with something like this WITH your children:

  1. It’s okay to be scared. It’s not okay to let this fear take over your life.  It’s okay to worry about your older relatives.  It’s not okay to panic every time your older relative wants to go grocery shopping.
  2. Let your children express their fears. Children don’t know how to manage many of their thoughts.  Let them speak to you openly.  Let them voice their fears, no matter how silly.
  3. Get Creative! This is a time to show your children your impromptu side without freaking them out.  Many parents don’t realize that if they keep a level head or seem happy doing something then their kids will react in a more positive way.  Try a new hobby while you’re stuck in the house FOREVERRRRR.
  4. Keep your kids AWAY from the chaos. If people are fighting at the local stores because they don’t have enough in stock make sure you either go shopping without your children or order what you can for pickup.
  5. Read your child’s cues. I have five of them…and there’s usually one who is more scared than the others and one who could care less what’s going on.  Those two alone are a bad combination because they will egg each other on and it’s an argument waiting to happen!  Make sure they understand that people are different & that’s okay.

It’s hard to hear that friends, family, or even just people in general are getting sick.  It’s hard to hear that you can’t see friends for two weeks while they’re quarantined.  It’s hard to be away from your teachers and your schools for two or more weeks, especially for those children who feel school is their outlet from abuse or those children who only get their food from their schools.  Take the schools up on their resources, even if you feel you don’t “need them.” For instance, the schools offer breakfast & lunch to children.  If there aren’t enough children interested, then the program will be killed.  However, if you donate towards the program AND take advantage of it then you’re helping to make sure those kids who REALLY NEED the program are still taken care of.  THAT’s what matters.

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