9 weeks ago, I, along with the rest of the planet being suddenly sheltered at home for what we hoped was only “temporary”, had devised some grand master plans to take advantage of all the newfound hours that I would’ve spent
at happy hours commuting. Valuable time for starting new hobbies, like learning to speak Latin, gardening or maybe even getting in enough fitness shape to try out for the Olympic trials. Yes, expectations were a tad high and the sky was the limit. I was beaming with anticipation, standing at the threshold of a truly life-inspired personal revolution.
9 weeks later, the only thing that has really checked the “revolution” box is that I’ve started to walk the cat.
Typically, these feline-inspired strolls are only down the street and back, but it has been surprisingly therapeutic and serves quite nicely for a mid-day break from what is otherwise a deluged battle between extreme amounts of screen time and absurdly excessive amounts of screen time.
Admittedly, cat-walking is a bit “rare”, and I’m not trying to spit-shine on a crisis here, but if you are peering for any silver linings in all this mess, it’s “Buttons”—our cat, who doesn’t seem to really mind this “quarantine thing” all that much to be completely honest…
“Walking the cat” is one of a myriad of new family-bonding time “hobbies” we have resorted to during these past 9 weeks. (Note to self: when in a pandemic and in need of new forms of entertainment—look always…to…the..cat)
In other notable accomplishments, the bed sheet-lathered fort in the living room is collapsing due to it being carelessly built on a seismic fault-line (broken coffee table) and we haven’t bathed the kids since Friday (or was it Saturday?). Never mind the TV remote filled with apple juice or that our evening story times with the girls have gotten progressively shorter as I’ve been widely known to “skip” a few pages.
Five Little Monkeys, By Eileen Christelow:
It was bedtime, so five little monkeys took a bath
Mama called the doctor and…Well…they all went to sleep.
Such is life while working full-time at home with 4 and 6 year old girls.
Listen—I’ve never parented during a pandemic before, and I can prove it because I clearly suck at it **AND** I have it easy! My wife is a fully-trained and certified teacher who knows how to teach and provide actual educationally inspired curriculums for our kids…….but I’m not going to lie. We are scrambling and making things up as we go along just like everyone else I know. Most days, we are in a full survival mode and its starting to get a bit out-of-hand between the clogging sinks and full-metal-jacket-inspired missions to the grocery store…(btw—teachers and all frontline workers need to get a billion dollar raise after all the dust settles).
The comforting “misery loves company” part of this news is that I’m not alone here at Meyer.
“Sometimes I forget if I’m on a work zoom, a first grade zoom, or a happy hour zoom. The lines all blur together.” said Melinda McCann, VP at Meyer and mother of 2 girls, wondering out-loud, “Maybe I’ll start drinking on the first grade zoom”.
Along with millions of others, our realities have changed as we enter into a ridiculous 9th week of this horrible “COVID-the home edition” horror show, and I’m just going to say this now—judge me all you want, but most days we are not planning anything educational for the kids, fresh clean clothes ain’t happening, and we will eat way too many princess-themed cupcakes in front of the TV.
Speaking of cupcake filled TV fests, I’ve watched all of the Disney’s FROZEN movies just shy of 82 trillion times. My girls dress up in their princess gowns, we paint nails and on we go to Arendelle. But it wasn’t until this last time when the lyrics were taking on an entirely new meaning for me—as if they are now tapping to the beat of the collectively exhausted COVID-shaded soul in every desperate parent in the world.
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
My new heroes, the Elsa and Anna sisterhood tandem are really on to something when it comes to this Pandemic Parenting thing, and so I’ve learned to recently adopt their mantra—to just let it go.
And on this 64th day of WFH, it has also become my new official “Fight Song”… Deal with it.
“Letting go” any resemblance of trying to be a perfect parent, teacher, husband or architect. This time is completely hammering the reset button of our reality for all of us in that we are no longer able to do the same things with work or caring for our kids than we might have been able to do in the past.
Alicia Karr, President at Meyer and mother of a 5 year old recently said, “The first thing we’re talking to our Meyer parents is about releasing any sense of perfectionism (check) and level-set the realities of themselves (double-check). We are all trying to shift and shake against the many roundhouse punches thrown from COVID, and balancing child care with schooling and work is the epitome of keeping all those plates twirling on your nose while riding the unicycle … Eventually, a plate is going to fall and that’s ok”.
“Mommy, can I tell you something…I’m peeing in my pants right now!”—overheard on a recent staff-zoom call from Alicia’s daughter, Naomi.
YUP – Just.. let… it… go.
Here at Meyer—the Leadership team has been providing zoom-led support sessions for parents with kids on navigating the new reality and recently had the opportunity to share within the group what is working, what is not, and see how we can help each other with finding viable solutions to our different situations. Additionally, Meyer has also shared and outlined the benefits of the recently federally passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which contains a mountain of federally funded programs for working parents.
“The Meyer parent support group has been great in providing a general understanding and a flexibility that everything is going to be ok.” added Melinda.
Below are a few “shareable” tips and links that were discussed amongst the official “Meyer-Parental-Global Task-Force” (I just made that up) should you be interested.
- Crayola, for free coloring pages
- Art Hub for Kids TV, for hundreds of how-to art videos on drawing, painting, sculpture, and origami
- Drawing Now, for step-by-step drawing tutorials
- TinkerLab, for creative activities focused on artistic experimentation and exploration
- Gaia, for yoga and consciousness-expanding videos on intuition, metaphysics, and transformation for all ages
- GoNoodle, for free movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts
- PositivePsychology.com, for mindfulness activities, worksheets, and breathing exercises for kids
- GoZen, for teaching kids research-based coping, resilience, and happiness skills
- Susan Kaiser Greenland, for a mindfulness and meditation teacher’s tips and resources
- All the World, for a weekly kids show (ages four to ten) on socio-emotional growth, self-awareness, and empathy
- Newsela, for finding trusted, aggregated content to use for distant learning
- Adventure Academy, for a reading, math, science, social studies, and language arts online learning program
- Outschool, for classes taught by qualified teachers over live video
- abcmouse, for online self-learning tool that provides kids with rewards after each level
Podcasts and video:
- NPR’s Wow in the World, for science and technology talk
- TedEd, for fun, video-based lessons, riddles, and logic puzzles
- WBUR’s Circle Round, for adapted folktales that explore kindness, persistence, and generosity
Math and science:
- National Geographic Kids, for online games, science experiments, and quizzes
- Best Academy, for interactive math curricula for kids ages eight to thirteen
Reading and language:
For many of our clients, comparable discussions are happening across all of their respective teams and we at Meyer are providing whatever support that we can in order to help alleviate the plate-juggling that they are also facing during this time—from WELL Building Audits, to reimagining their workspace, to why-is-the-7-year-old-not-wearing-any-pants, Meyer is providing any and all support thru hosting weekly client roundtables and panel-led discussions—all to simply try and get ahead of this so that we can be best prepared for whenever the re-entry does happen.
Speaking of re-entry—as our governing leaders volley back and forth and debate to how and when is the right time to officially open up for business, the entire presumption seems a bit pointless since the schools have already chosen to ring the closing bell for the remainder of the academic year and, along with it, any corresponding summer programs. The fact is that for many of the working parents, the economy will not really “open up,” and life will not really return to normal until there is a safe and viable avenue for the kiddos. And so re-entry to the classrooms will be the “true barometer” on the other end of any version of the “stay at home” orders.
But at some point—and on the bright side—is that corporations, retailers and restaurants are all going to eventually start opening up their doors and it will be time to leave home and return to work. Whether it is in June, July or November, the “next normal” will begin unveiling itself and very likely in a gradual process. A process that will assuredly require all of us to once again adjust from our newly discovered comforts of watching too much TV,making forts and walking the cat.
Sorry Buttons, but you’ll just have to let it go.