Pandemic Parenting – Why We Gain And Lose In The Era Of Covid-19
The world is coming up on an anniversary. In March 2022, it will be two years since the world shut down. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Government officials said in two weeks, we would be getting back to normal, don’t panic; we only need to flatten the curve. Two weeks became two years. We’ve muddled through parenting in a world that is not quite normal, doing the best we can at every turn. What have we lost? What have we gained?
Are You Worried About Learning Loss
I see article after article discussing learning loss and paragraph after paragraph discussing what children lost from having schools shut down and switching to online learning. As a mother, I do not worry about the book learning they lost. Compare what a kindergarten class learns in 2022 with what children at that same age learned in 1982. You will find a vastly different curriculum, and yet the 1982 kindergartners are now functioning in the world as successful adults. Educational benchmarks are arbitrary. I’m confident when all is said and done, we will be able to keep children on track academically. Curriculums are full of repetition, and everyone is in the same boat. I am far more worried about learning loss in areas outside of academics.
People Skills Are Learned
“Mom. I don’t do people. People are scary.”
My nine-year-old – A pandemic memoir
We learn 2+2=4. Letters, numbers, writing, and reading are learned skills. Social skills are also learned and need to be practiced. Making and keeping friendships, communicating our needs to other people, and functioning outside our family unit are skills that have been placed on a shelf for most of the last two years. Some of us, like my sweet nine-year-old, are more introverted. We love people, but only our people. I am 43 years old and have established relationships, so while being around strangers raises my anxiety, the pandemic did not affect my close relationships. Now our children, that is a different story entirely. They lost two years of opportunities to find their people. Friendships are not born on zoom. Even now, back in the school building, interaction is limited. I fear our children will catch up on long division faster than fostering friendships.
Momma’s With Pandemic Babies
Then there are the babies born after the world turned upside down. One mom I know has two pandemic babies – one born in March 2020 and one born 17 months later. A social and family-oriented woman, she wonders how different her babies’ young lives would be without COVID-19. They’ve missed exposure to people and places that in an earlier time would be an absolute foundation of their little lives. The pandemic allotted more intimate family moments. The ones we often search to add into our hectic daily lives. Finally, something to put in the gain category. Keeping our circles small for safety gave us a chance to slow down and spend time together doing ordinary things at home. But I also think of all the simple outings these two beautiful babies have missed. As a new momma, I loved to walk around Target for something to do, but in the world of COVID, Target is risky behavior. My wise friend says”
“My hope is that one day soon, we can all get together, without fears, and enjoy the company and space. That people holding my babies can smile at each other without a mask blocking it.”
I second this hope. Smiling at babies is my favorite pastime.
Let’s Not Forget About the Big Kids
Now it is time to talk about the big kids. We cannot forget the Middle School and High School kids navigating a world where safety dictates that they stay away from everyone and everything that makes sense to them. This group is missing major milestones, and they are old enough and have enough life experience to know what they are missing. I wonder what the world will look like when all this pent-up energy is finally allowed to explode. We better watch out, ladies and gentlemen; these kids may change the world forever. They might lose their minds for a second—party, travel, live life fully, but then I see innovation coming from these kids. Our big kids are watching. They see what works and what doesn’t. I think they will learn from the madness and turn us in a new direction. We, as parents, need only help them survive the difficult season and then let them lead us when the seasons change.
Let’s Learn Resilience Together
I equally love and hate the word resilience. Hearing our kids are resilient, no need to worry makes my skin crawl. Yes, this is true, but only if we teach them how to be resilient. Similar to long division, resilience needs to be learned and practiced before it is mastered. Parenting through a pandemic gives endless opportunities to practice and perfect resilience. As we maneuver through another month of pandemic madness, I remind my children we can accomplish anything; we simply need to stick together.
When school shuts down for the 120th time, it may not be ideal, but we did it before. Then I ask, how can we make it better this time? I challenge my little minds to think about how we can make things better instead of wallowing in how horrible it all is. When I hear the words – I can’t do math. I’m so STUPID! We stop and talk about it. Math will come, my sweet child. The world is wonky, and your energy has been spent in other places. This is understandable. Now we have time to spend a little more energy on math. You will get it!
An Endless List
Given the time, I could write an endless list of pandemic gains and losses. I know it feels like the loss category will rule the roost, but many of the losses allowed us to gain insight or perspective. Parents, the pandemic race is not at its completion. We have more “race” to run, carrying our littles along. I am tired! I know you are too. One foot in front of the other, let’s show these kiddos how we keep going until the race is won.