I’m a mom with two kids, 13 and 10, who are at home doing online schooling. My husband and I were both already working from home, before COVID-19.
That was liveable, when he was downstairs and I was upstairs. Yet even then, we each treasured our time outside alone - running, walking, shopping in our neighbourhood, grabbing a coffee.
But now, in a small house 24-7, we’re all four tripping over each other.
I know that many will say we’re lucky to be together, rather than fighting this virus alone. I understand that.
But ours is also a common story.
The possibility that the stay-home orders will still be insisted on by our government leaders and public health officials into the summer months and even beyond, makes the present feel overwhelming.
What can we do to stay on course without losing our patience, without being tense and irritable with our kids, and without being short-tempered with the partner whose support we need more than ever before?
Feeling Under Siege
Your sign-off is hopeful because being “under siege” means you want to fight back.
That spirit is in you. It’s also strong because so many are in the same battle.
Countless parents at home with children are intent on finding strategies that work.
The kids have their at-home classes, but they also have breaks and time for other routines.
Treat them as what they are - valued, capable members of the family’s survival corps. They can help with meals, and many other tasks needed to keep the household running.
Teach them practical skills for contributing to getting through the crisis of this pandemic.
Have fun breaks for all - through videos and online connections. There are endless sources for these which you can find on YouTube or through Google searches:
You can all be adventuresome with something new - dance classes for all ages, family fitness classes, yoga for beginners (age-appropriate).
For nostalgia, search tried-and-true TV-comedy re-runs.
Encourage periodic breaks from each other, for each person in the house to de-compress, rest, read on their own, listen to music privately (on good earphones, if available).
Honour everyone’s need to laugh, stretch out, be silly, and to have phone or email contact with friends.
If there are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins who are reachable through phone or technology, check in with them as a family.
It helps all of you remember that you’re not an isolated foursome secluded from view. There are people out there caring and cheering for you, as you are for them.
The warmer and sunnier weather will soon arrive and that will be another test of your strength and will to hold fast to the rules of non-engagement with people outside your immediate family unit, by being at home with only each other and avoiding contact with the virus.
I urge you to rouse the natural fighter spirit that’s in you, along with the fierce protection you and your husband feel towards your children, to stay on track, stay home and stay well.
FEEDBACK Regarding the single woman, 42, who wrote about being lonely/scared, while isolated at home due to the coronavirus (April 9):
Reader – “Her letter hit home for me. I, too, am living alone. We’re both sharing the same life changes.
“Your advice helped me to stay focused. You reminded me of the necessity to continue self-isolation. Not only for my health, but for others. Your words were comforting, "You’re not alone."
I had a close friend who lived in another city. We two women had many interests in common and a shared sense of humour. We visited each other yearly, phoned and emailed.
Our contact declined when her husband became ill. She had to hire a caregiver for him, and limit her contact with friends as he couldn’t be left alone.
Whenever we did reach each other, our conversations were warm as ever.
Now, during the pandemic, I haven’t heard at all from her. She lives in a city that’s been badly affected.
Do I contact her or not bother her during this difficult time? She has some relatives there.
Even if she can’t speak for long or you just leave a message, she’ll appreciate your call.
I know you mean well. But difficult times are harder to bear if people feel abandoned. Reach out and show her that you still care.
Tip of the day:
Families at home with children must muster their strengths, tolerance, creativity, and determination to fight the virus’ spread.