March 16th marked a big day in our household. Our twin boys turned 10. Double-digits. Through the eyes of a child – this is a BIG day. But this year, it meant something a little different. While we tried to keep the normalcy around this special day, we were very limited on ways that we could celebrate. The COVID-19 pandemic was revving up, and our world as we knew it had to change course.

For our kids, this was the first day that schools were closed. Completely unprepared, we embarked upon a new path, a temporary new “normal”. Just like magic, teachers had whipped together lessons, learning plans, and activities out of thin air (seriously, though, how did they do that??). They armed households with the necessary supports to alleviate some of the burden of being away from their classroom.

But What about the Kids?

For our children – their world had been flipped completely upside down. Their daily routine, their classroom, even their friendships were affected. School, for so many children, is more than just a physical space they occupy for several hours a day. It’s their second home. Their security blanket. Their sanctuary. And just like that, everything that was a constant, was gone. 

As parents, we weren’t prepared for this. Nobody was. But, our kids need us now more than ever. To support them, to comfort them, to ease their worries and address their concerns. Here are some ways that we can do just that.

Get Them Talking

When this whole thing started a couple of weeks ago, I put my time and attention into figuring out how this was going to work for our family as a unit. My husband and I both work out of the house full-time. But now, our new office spaces were in corners of different rooms in our home. We gave our children some global direction and took turns checking in frequently to be sure they were productively engaging in activity throughout the day. For the first few days, this seemed to work really well. Definitely not ideal, but we were making it happen. School work was getting done and they were finding lots of ways to be creative and helpful. “Wow”, I thought, “this isn’t all that bad.” Then Day 3 came flying in and knocked me right over. Our kids were running out of things to do that didn’t involve a screen, the arguing hit an all-time high, and one of our brave and adventurous kiddos jumped off the deck and injured his wrist during an intense Nerf gun battle. They were simply ready for this whole thing to be over. 

While we would talk about what was happening in our world in simple ways over dinner or as it came up throughout the day, we had not taken the time to check in with our kids one-on-one. I decided to go for a walk with my son, Grayson, then asked him how he was holding up and if there was anything I could do to help him. “I just want to see my friends.” “It feels like this is never going to end.” These were just a couple of the things we tried to work through. I immediately recognized the importance of taking time to do this — individually and without any other distractions.

Quiet the Negative

It would be quite easy to focus on all the negative. I mean, let’s be honest – this is incredibly saddening, and frightening, and unnerving — unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before. While it’s important that we process what’s happening as an adult, it’s important that we keep these discussions to a minimum around our kids. We want them asking questions, and we want to provide them with the facts to help answer them. But, we also want to keep a comforting and reassuring tone that let’s our kids know that we are going to do all we can to keep them safe.

Recognize the Positive

While this pandemic has kept most of us at home, think about how wonderful that is. In such a fast-paced world, we were given permission to slow down. We were given the gift of time to spend with our family or those we live with. This past Saturday, we played Monopoly for 4 hours. This is something that we may have never done. We went on a long hike in an area we had never explored. We reconnected in ways that we are very rarely able to do. The fun we had was pure and rich. 

And think about what this unprecedented time has taught us. Hopefully, we can now look at the world with more love and more gratitude. We are learning not to take even the smallest things for granted. We are discovering that we all play a necessary part in fighting this. Together – we will make it through this. As we connect the dots, moment by moment, day by day, we begin to tackle this challenging time with a “we can do this” attitude. Because, together, we truly can. And with our help, we can help our children realize this, too.

What about you? What are your thoughts on what our children need now?

*Today’s image is brought to you by Guess How Much I Love You by by Sam McBratney (Author) and Anita Jeram (Illustrator)