While many people around the world are emerging from their homes, legs full of hair and heads full of mullets, others aren’t. Those in the high-risk categories are still staying behind closed doors as often as possible, finishing Netflix and wondering aloud why anyone would ever wear anything that didn’t involve an elastic waistband.
Of course, parents in this predicament carry collateral damage: if they’re stuck at home, their children are too. And this turns summer into a bummer for the little ones. If you’re looking to add some variety to your mommy guilt, congrats! You’ve found it!
So, what do we do? In a city where the pools are drained, Old MacDonald’s Farm is closed, and the wheels on the bus have stopped spinning, how do we let our kids be kids?
There’s really no set answer – I’m of the belief that the secret to parenting is the ability to make it up as you go along (rest assure, this is pretty much what we’re all doing). And moms must do what works for them, even if others judge. Besides, that’s their problem – there’s no side eye a little middle finger can’t fix.
Still, there are particular things that work for most of us. And effective remedies to the quarantine dilemma include:
Bribery: When my daughter was younger, I used to bribe her with money from her piggy bank (you’d be surprised by how effective this was). Now that she’s onto my wily ways, I must up the ante. Yesterday, I bought her an electric moped, something she can ride around the house even if the virus worsens. She’s talked about wanting a motorcycle for months so this was my solution. Hopefully, she’ll get her Harley hopes out of her system and, when she’s an adult, she’ll opt to drive large sedans with five-star safety ratings.
Honesty: Even if your children are younger, they know what’s up. Sure, they probably don’t know the specifics, but they know something’s off; children are natural BS meters, gifted in spotting incongruence. That means pretending everything’s perfect won’t do them (or you) any favors. On the flip side, panic purchasing toilet paper is also problematic. Thus, split the difference: offer comfort and honesty, and admit the uncertainty lying ahead. There’s no need to overshare or ply your kiddo with scary statistics. Be somewhat candid…not intensely morbid. Remember, if your children don’t get the answers from you, they’ll seek them out elsewhere.
Compromise: So, you’re probably not going to Disney World this summer – the happiest place on Earth is now among the most contagious too. You can do other things though (things that don’t involve sitting “beach-side” by your backyard sandbox). Take day trips to the mountains, have video game competitions, pretend your living room is lava, go for scenic drives, visit lakes, or have a picnic in the park wearing your Sunday best. And, if your child wants to eat ice cream for breakfast some mornings, let them. All bets are off during Armageddon.
Reading: Depending on your child’s age, they may need assistance in this department. But a quarantine is the ideal time to help them discover the magic of books. You can find all sorts of appropriate material online, in stores, or at libraries. Just make sure you’re privy to what they read; you probably don’t want them nose deep in a copy of Flowers in the Attic. Even if it is a real page-turner.
The Great Outdoors: For many of us stuck at home, nature has offered a much-needed reprieve. Whether it’s exploring the local creek or taking the dog for its eighth walk of the day, spending time under the sun is vital to our wellness and your child’s. Encourage them to bike, skateboard, climb trees, and chase butterflies. If the pandemic has taught me one thing it’s that the Great Outdoors is an undersell. They’re not just great; they’re spectacular. Now run towards that open space with open arms.