I’m a mom, wife, and registered nurse living in New York during COVID-19. In March and April, it was literally the worst place you could live in the U.S. I watched the news as 800 bodies per day were heaved into cold ice trucks to keep the bodies preserved. Some families not even getting a chance to properly bury their loved ones as their bodies lay amongst the masses.
Now, I sit here watching as half the country spikes in cases, seemingly giving up on any attempt to stop the spread of the virus. And although my state has gone from the worst infection rate to the best, my family will stay in isolation because the rest of the country has proven it’s not even close to being over yet.
But that’s okay, because COVID quarantine was the reality check I needed. It showed me exactly what was important for my family. As a nurse, I know staying home means stopping the spread and getting COVID under control. I know everyone has their challenges, but I also think parents can use this time as a reality check to realize what’s truly important.
Here are the top four things parents can learn during COVID quarantine:
You Don’t Need That Overpriced Coffee
Of course, it’s nice to go out, get a latte, sip on it with friends while discussing the latest episode of 90 Day Fiance. But personally, I’m not one of those people that grieve the loss of sitting in Starbucks. Why? Because a venti latte isn’t worth dying for. Sounds dramatic to some but if there is one thing we learned from COVID, it’s that everybody reacts differently. And we know close contact with people indoors can spread this virus. It’s just a chance I’m not willing to take. If there is one lesson I would urge people to learn it’s that what you thought you “needed” before, you can go without. COVID-19 will eventually be amongst the illness like Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio — those illnesses that are not as threatening due to vaccinations. But for now, it’s best to stay inside, save a few dollars by making your own coffee, and only go out for the essentials.
Your Kids Don’t Need Eight Hours of Education a Day
If you’re anything like me, navigating virtual school was stressful. I felt that in order for my child to succeed in life, I must pack her schedule with eight full hours of instruction a day or she would never get into a good college or land her dream job. Then I realized – she is five years old! Obviously your children’s educational needs will depend on their age but if your child is only learning the basics during this time, it’s okay. Give yourself permission to let that happen. They can get through the day with only a few hours of instruction. If they learn the basics of reading, writing, math, basic responsibilities, respect for diversity and simply being decent humans, your job is done. Depending on where you live right now, you might be in survival mode – literally. And that’s okay. We need to acknowledge that instead of pretending this virus isn’t a threat. It is. The world needs more kindness, compassion, and respect for diversity – now more than ever. So if that’s what you can focus on with teaching your kids, you are doing your job.
Your Kids Don’t Need Fancy Play Places— They Need YOU
I always felt that my children needed to “get out of the house.” That somehow, paying $22 for my kids to go to a play area to play with the same kitchen set, plastic food, and the latest Fisher-Price toys (that they have at home) all while being surrounded by strangers they refuse to talk to, was somehow exactly what they needed. In my mind, they needed that experience to get their energy out. Being forced to stay home has opened up our minds to exploring different things to do, outside and inside. We have invested in a few outdoor toys, we run in the open fields, make up our own games, and I have gone back to my childhood by playing “red light, green light” and “Mother May I?”
It’s okay to allow your kids to have an old fashioned ’90s summer. Stay outside all day, play in the sprinkler, ride bikes, and play hide and seek. Moms today feel the pressure of playdates — fancy play areas with cafes, Montessori schools, and keeping up with music lessons and sports. Give yourself permission to get back to the basics, because at the end of the day, quality time with YOU is all your kids are looking for.
You Can Change Your Perspective and Expectations
People are in many different stages of this virus, but living in New York made me consider my own mortality. When you worry that a trip to the grocery store might be a matter of life and death, you come to appreciate a lot more. Things that bothered me before really don’t now. I am more patient with my kids and husband. Being together more has been very helpful for our family. We no longer feel “we don’t have time.” We are intentional with the time we have now, which has really made everyone happier.
I urge you to do the same. Challenge your perspective a bit. Although COVID quarantine might feel like a long time, this time period is just a tiny blip in the grand scheme of your entire lifetime. It’s ok to simplify your life. It’s ok to just simply be.
If COVID quarantine can show you anything is that YOU are enough, Mama. Let go of the expectations you had of yourself, what you thought your kids’ childhood “should” be. Keeping your family happy, healthy, and safe should be the priority until all this is over. This might be the lesson 2020 is trying to teach us. When times get tough just remember, isn’t surviving this the most important thing we can do?