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When everything else in the world is having to adapt because of a pandemic, why not throw romance into the mix! Thus “quarandating” is born.

Quarandating: Dating while in quarantine.

It’s an interesting concept I’m not sure anyone would have predicted-—though let’s be honest, 2020 has been an enigmatic year. Nonetheless, as you consider the involuntary long-distance relationship (even while living near each other), or finding yourself somewhere 6 ft in between, you should have an idea of what to think about and do.

Here are 5 Things to Know About Quarandating:

1. Take baby steps.

For your first date, start with the cameras off and just talk on the phone. Keep the conversation light and take the pressure off. Find out what you have in common, try and learn a little about their personality and see what your connection is like with just conversations.

Questions for 1st date:

  1. What do you love to do?
  2. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
  3. When was the last time you went out of state and where?
  4. What’s your favorite movie? (No questions asked.)

If the phone call went well, consider a video call for your next date over FaceTime or Zoom. You both enjoyed talking, so make it more interesting, change up the conversation topics and see if you have some chemistry.

Questions for 2nd date:

  • What does your ideal weekend look like?
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you travel and what would you do while there?
  • Do you read spoilers? Explain why/why not.
  • Give each other a tour of your refrigerators (I’m positive there will be some follow-up questions that come naturally!)
  • What makes you laugh?
  • Who is the most important person/people in your life?

If you feel a little something between you and want to see where else it can go, consider FaceTiming a few more times or a socially-distant date.

Some questions to ask once you two feel more comfortable:

  • Someone who really knows me would know this…
  • When have you felt the most capable?
  • If there is an event that has really shaped your life, what was it and how?
  • What tells you that you’re valuable?
  • Where do you feel most at peace?

You have an opportunity to have some quality and fun conversations and learn about each other with some of the normal distractions and time-suckers out of the way. 

If you’re tired of all of the dating apps and swiping, but you’d really like to get out there still, you have options. There’s a dating website that was created during the pandemic called Quarandate. Essentially, it’s a safe blind date with a twist… 

Quarandate is an online dating service that pairs singles with a potential match, but there’s a twist. The two can then go on a date that’s live-streamed with a host who asks questions to see if you’re compatible. The virtual date can last up to 30 minutes and people watching at home get to chime in and rate the pair’s connection. According to the site, it’s a fun way to safely find a match during the coronavirus crisis.

Sounds pretty cool to me—it gives off virtual Bachelor/Bachelorette vibes.

2. Get creative while staying safe!

Dating doesn’t have to be boring while the world feels at a standstill with COVID-19 still being an issue.

Virtual Date Ideas:

  • Do a virtual show and tell (the funnier the story, the better). 
  • You can watch a movie together while apart with NetflixParty streaming.
  • Play games together on different apps like HouseParty, Jackbox games, etc.
  • Perhaps you two can keep each other company while you clean up around the house and just practice “being” together. 
  • Try a new recipe together. Pick out something you want to try, each of you pick up your own ingredients and FaceTime while cooking!

Social Distance Friendly Dates:

  • Take a hike together.
  • Have a potluck picnic—both of you bring your own meal and blanket.
  • Go to the zoo! This could bring up great stories from when you were a kid.
  • Go on a bike ride.
  • Get outside and exercise together

Find new hobbies, talk about what you want to do when the world opens back up and embrace the uniqueness of the time you have now while acknowledging it will be different in the future.

3. FaceTiming each other is a different experience than having real “face time” together.

The natural chemistry (or lack thereof) can sometimes be harder to read with only a screen to clue you in. However, during COVID-19 in particular, there’s a comfort with virtually dating. You have less to worry about, so less nerves. You have someone to talk to and the commitment feels less risky. (Not to mention you know you have other options truly at your fingertips.) 

Virtual dating in general has become much more common. You don’t have to worry about it being a taboo place to meet someone. In fact, 30% of US adults have used online dating; 12% found a “committed relationship from it” according to Pew Research.

However, there are things to be wary of, like people being dishonest. “Roughly 7 in 10 online daters believe it is very common for those who use these platforms to lie to try to appear more desirable.” Remember the potential for being “catfished.” The last thing you want to happen is find out the person you have been talking to isn’t who you think they are. “Talking on the phone and messaging back and forth only provides a one-dimensional perspective of your relationship. It is impossible to be in love with someone without seeing how they interact with others, how they handle anger and conflict, or how they treat you. You may be in love with who you think they are, but you have no proof that what you have heard or seen is real.” says relationship expert, Julie Baumgardner.

Know how much information is too much to share, remember that even though they seem nice, they’re a stranger you haven’t met and keeping your personal information personal for the first little bit will keep you safe. 

*Here’s a great blog on safety tips for online dating

4. Consider dating in person for a while before taking the next step.

You may have hit it off with someone and are considering taking it to the next step. With quarandating, the steps may look a little different. You may have been dating for the last 3-5 months, but what does your relationship look like under different circumstances? During this uncertain and definitely unprecedented time, it’s important to give your relationship space to materialize into its own thing without the stressful circumstances. 🔎 People act differently under stress and you need to see what they’re like without it.

A relationship needs time for things to normalize. Many people are very flexible in the infancy of a relationship, but as time goes by they become less flexible. By taking things slow and easy you give your relationship time to grow up and you get to see how the person will really treat you.” Baumgardner says.

John Van Epp, author and relationship expert, believes that within “three to six months you can begin to know someone, but like looking through a microscope at its lowest power, you can only see certain things in that amount of time.”

Dating someone for an extended period allows you to see certain things that may not become evident right away. Having history together gives understanding to who you really are because you have seen how each other handles different kinds of situations.

5. Decide what you want and DON’T settle.

There are challenges with dating online and even more so with this pandemic. It’s easy to feel anxious and lonely because of COVID and believe that you may as well take what you’ve got so you have someone. 

There will be a light at the end of this tunnel and being with someone who is good for you and makes you better is more valuable to your life than someone who is just there so you’re not alone. Figuring out if you’re in a heart-healthy relationship or if there are some red flags that are being avoided out of convenience will help prevent you from compromising what you want and need.

Times are difficult and you may have never wanted to online date, but with the limited options, you have the choice to make the most of this opportunity to spend a little more time getting to know someone before you are up close and personal. You get to decide what’s best for you and how to go about it. 

Now that you know what to think about, hope you meet someone special!

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Something shifted overnight for me. At first, I scoffed at how absurd people were being about a silly virus. Then I began to feel a looming sense of dread, realizing that this was not something to take lightly. It was 3 months into my third pregnancy. I started questioning if that meant I was an immunocompromised at-risk person who would be more susceptible to COVID-19. And although I suddenly went from an apathetic state to a concerned and informed citizen, I still had no clue what it all meant. Or how it would actually affect all of our lives in such a drastic way. If I’m being honest, I still didn’t worry too much about being pregnant during a pandemic. That’s because I thought it would blow over in a month, or, at the most, by the time I gave birth. 

But being in the middle of a pandemic rapidly changed the landscape in which I conducted my life and consequently my third pregnancy.

Ya know, they say each pregnancy is different, but now that I’m 6 months pregnant and COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon… I’d say this one is taking the cake. But just because this pregnancy is DIFFERENT, doesn’t mean it has to be DISASTROUS. I am realizing that finding the positives in pregnancy during a pandemic is ALL about shifting my perspective.

My prenatal workout class

…Went from an amazing escape every Monday night, connecting with other pregnant mamas and getting an hour break from all the responsibilities of having two kids and a full-time job to a virtual Zoom session from home. And it’s quite the struggle to find a quiet space to exercise without my kids literally jumping on my back or bumping into me. attempting to do the moves alongside me.

UPSIDE: The kids are kinda cute when they try to do the workout moves. I still get to check in with other mamas, and working up a sweat contributes to a healthy pregnancy! (Also having my girls see me working out models good healthy habits for them!) 

Prenatal doctor appointments… (specifically the 20-week Anatomy Scan)

…changed drastically. It went from a much-anticipated appointment where my husband would attend and we’d find out the gender together to an extremely lonely experience. I wore a mask, sat in an almost empty waiting room, and saw a skeleton crew of healthcare employees. I recorded the ultrasound to show my husband when I got home since spouses were (and currently are) not allowed to attend any appointments.

UPSIDE: I have a video of the ultrasound, which would otherwise not be allowed. And really, I’m thankful for the healthcare workers taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their patients… even if it means I had to be alone for such a significant moment. 

Big announcements like gender reveals

…changed, too (because yes, gender reveal parties are still a thing)! We went from all our friends and family gathering around a big box filled with balloons that we would let free at just the right moment to yet another virtual Zoom session. Among only our closest friends and family, I let Jackie, my 4-year-old daughter, do the honors of announcing we’d be adding ANOTHER girl to the mix! 

UPSIDE: Having a special intimate announcement that I was able to record was priceless. And I saved a ton of money on balloons, food, and decorations. Just sayin’.  

Documenting my pregnancy

…went from a variety of social events where we would naturally take photos to trying to remember what day of quarantine it was and finding a split-second where the stars aligned (aka the weather was good, makeup and outfit were put on and I had my fancy camera on hand) to get a good picture to document my growing baby bump. 

UPSIDE: The photos that I do get will be that much more precious. And, the captions I write with them will give tremendous insight into this unprecedented time in history for future generations.  

The pregnancy attention

…went from the normal socially appropriate, “You’re glowing!” or “You don’t even look pregnant from behind, it’s all belly!” to crickets. Honestly, some days I think people forget I’m pregnant. They usually only see me from my shoulders up on video calls or FaceTime. If not for my intentional picture-taking that gets posted on social media, I probably would surprise everyone when I resurface from this quarantine to reveal a brand new baby! 

UPSIDE: The socially inappropriate comments have stopped, too! I don’t have strangers trying to touch my belly. I don’t have awkward co-worker conversations about whether I will be breastfeeding, either. And people don’t exclaim, “Are you SURE you’re not having twins?!” (All these things have most definitely happened in previous pregnancies.) 

These are but a handful of ways this pandemic has reshaped this pregnancy. I could choose to dwell on the overarching climate of fear, anxiety, worry, and confusion that only increases my stress. OR, I can focus on finding the upside in every situation. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary for the health of me and my baby girl. So, today, I’m choosing to be thankful. Yes, I recognize the downsides, the difficulties, and the disasters happening around me. However, I’m choosing to be positive, no matter what. 

First, the world shut down. It was inevitable as COVID-19 was spreading. But you weren’t sure how you’d handle it. Work, school, health, friends, jobs, money. There was so much uncertainty.

Then, at some point, you settled. You recognized what you could control. You started making the best of it and even realized that it wasn’t so bad. Who are we kidding? You were surprised at how much you were enjoying it. Slower pace. Family time has been fun time. Meaningful conversations with friends. You found your routine

You noticed the anxiety level in your home decrease. Not because of the absence of issues. Jobs aren’t all steady. Health concerns are everywhere. There’s lots of unrest in America right now. But the slower pace, the presence of the people you care most about, the ability to connect with family and friends, even if they are virtual connections, has helped you to live and process life in real time. 

During pre-quarantine days, many of us were moving so fast that we were simply going through the motions of life, but weren’t processing all that we were experiencing.  We had become accustomed to our way of doing life and never considered alternatives. And now the world is ready to open up and you’re not sure you’re ready to give up the benefits of this new lifestyle. So what do you do?

If You Aren’t Ready, Try These Things

  1. Accept: Just like we accepted the shelter-in-place orders and the fact that COVID-19 was spreading. We must accept that the world can’t stay shut down forever.
  2. Identify your fears: This could be anything from COVID-19 to busyness. You may be scared of losing the deep connections you’ve formed. The return of stress, anxiety, perpetual activity. Loneliness
  3. Name what you don’t want to lose: Family time, slower pace, meaningful conversations, quiet time, game/movie nights, time for mindfulness, and self-care.
  4. Be intentional: Just because the world is opening up doesn’t mean you have to dive in headfirst and resume everything you were doing before. Identify the things you have to do. Think through the things that are optional.
  5. Practice Using One of the Most Powerful Words in the English Dictionary: NO. Be willing to say “no” to those things that compromise the very things you’ve said you don’t want to lose. You WILL say NO to a lot of good things. Good will often keep you from BEST.

You may not be ready for the world to reopen for many reasons. Taking control of what you CAN will help you to re-enter the world with purpose.

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  1. On a video call… “Hey Dad, I’m hungry!” “But you just ate.” “I’m still hungry.”
  2. The dream of sleeping later every day since I am working from home… then remembering my 7 and 4-year-old don’t know what sleeping late means.
  3. Countless hours of Nerf battles and Lego builds.
  4. Using the parent face when your kid walks in the room while recording a video for work.
  5. Getting on to your child for walking into the room while on a video call but forgetting to mute yourself. Sorry team!
  6. Explaining to your child that show-and-tell is not part of your video meetings while you’re working from home.
  7. Family walks all times of the day—just because we are home and we can.
  8. Eating lunch and dinner daily as a family and having great conversations.
  9. 4 weeks into quarantine and my 4-year-old was making her own lunch. Success!!
  10. Dodging Nerf bullets while on a work call.
  11. Apologizing to a work vendor for the loudness of your kids in the background of a call… only to hear “Oh, I get it” in response.
  12. When a one-hour webinar takes three cause you know… kids gotta have snacks.
  13. Your child answers a business call… oops!
  14. My 7-year-old constantly reminds me of his video call schedule.
  15. I might have used bribery just to make it through a meeting.
  16. Watched Frozen 2 so many times you’ve begun to wake up singing “Show Yourself.”
  17. Fully aware that Elsa singing “Into the Unknown” is the song of 2020.
  18. Muted by co-workers during a video call because you ran off to referee a sibling quarrel.
  19. Showed up to at least one video meeting in PJs and bedhead.
  20. Get overly excited to drive somewhere, anywhere… alone.
  21. Stayed up way too late, too often while working from home after the kids go to bed.
  22. When your 7-year-old says, “Dad, you remember when we used to go to school?”
  23. Grocery shopping (alone) is something you get really excited about.
  24. Hiding my stash of cookies so my kids (and maybe my wife) didn’t find them.
  25. When all is quiet, not worrying about why it’s quiet, just accepting it, and taking a nap.
  26. All that saved gas money is not enough to keep up with the increase in grocery spending.
  27. Covid-wear is a real thing… business (or at least presentable on the top), PJs on the bottom.
  28. Having a 3-foot-tall shadow on every call.
  29. Surrendering your living room to be a site for fort building.
  30. Abruptly ended a group video meeting when my oldest ran in and said he got sick in the living room.
  31. Dropped $300 at the grocery store and realized I only bought snacks.
  32. Found all the creative ways to eat Nutella.
  33. The kids declare, “I need to do my work” while playing pretend.
  34. My sweet 4-year-old decided to draw a picture of what she thinks dad loves most during this time… running and Zoom calls. She might be half-right.
  35. Gave into otherwise ridiculous demands from your children in an effort to maintain your sanity and peace.
  36. PJs are acceptable attire for small kids… all hours of the day. Look, we’re ready for bed!
  37. Diligently trying to work on a project and your little one crawls up in your lap and asks, “Can you just come lay with me?” And the project is on pause.
  38. Best investment of the summer… inflatable pool. I can finally get some work done and they are entertained for hours.
  39. Having to constantly remind my kids that it is not okay to sit and talk outside the bathroom while someone is in there. Whatever it is can wait… and I want some peace and quiet.
  40. Realizing that no matter the chaos and stress, these moments will be treasured for the rest of my life and theirs.

Parents, these last few months may not have been what we expected—it definitely wasn’t something we were prepared for, but this time should be cherished. You are doing a great job and your kids see it. Have fun, be crazy, and enjoy the slower pace that still lies ahead for many of us this summer. You’ve got this!! Go make some memories and treasure every moment!

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Parents, if there’s ever a time to sympathize with your children, now is it. If there’s one thing kids look forward to, it’s summertime. Think about it: summer camps, trips, vacations, jobs, and enrichment opportunities. 

Every couple of days, my teenage daughter comes to me with a realization of something she won’t get to do this summer because of COVID-19. She’s already missed one summer camp, the family reunion is not going to happen, and a summer program she was hoping to take part in is off the table. Oh, and she wanted to start her babysitting business this summer.

She’s bummed about it. Kids all over are bummed about it. About 20 million children, adolescents, and adults in the U.S. attend camps each year. Not this year. When your children are coming to the realization that COVID-19 is about to “ruin” their summer, that’s where you as a parent must step in and help your kids process what they may be feeling. Here are some ways you can help your disappointed kids. 

Deal with yourself first.

This is a blow to parents as well. A) We may hate that they might be home all day. B) We hate what they are missing out on, too. You may experience your own anger, frustration, sadness, or some other emotion. Identify and own it. Then do what you must to address it and move forward

Provide space for your child to express their emotions.

Your child may be experiencing disappointment, sadness, grief, anger, or any other emotions. You may see it on their face, in their actions, or in their responses. Asking them if they are disappointed because of summer cancellations with a soft, caring tone, or simply telling them it’s okay to be sad, gives them permission to experience their emotions

Empathize with and validate their feelings.

Regarding the cancellation of summer plans, child development and parenting expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa says in TODAY that parents should tend to their child’s feelings but not put boundaries on their feelings. You don’t have to fix their emotions. Sometimes an “I understand” or “It’s okay that you feel that way” is all that’s in order. Your own stories of dealing with disappointments can provide your children with some comfort and help your kids process what’s going on.

Discuss what they are really missing.

It’s not just that they’re missing the activity of the summer. Kids look forward to reconnecting with family and friends they only see in the summer. The summer is a chance to explore their own personal interests. For teens, it might be the freedom that comes with having a job and, more specifically, having money. Students use the summer to do things to boost their resumé. Asking them, “What do you miss about not being able to do a particular activity?” can help your child think through what they enjoy about the summer and what it is they are really missing.

Look for alternatives.

Dr. Gilboa says that there are four elements to having a fun summer: independence, connection, purpose, and fun. What are some alternative ways to help your children experience those four elements that they often get from summer camps, jobs, and trips? S’mores, water fun, camping in the backyard, movie marathons, unstructured play, Zoom game nights with friends, gardening, building something, learning something new? Be realistic, but also be open to new challenges. It can make your summer memorable. This 30 Day Challenge can provide you some great alternatives. 

Keep Loving ‘Em Through.

This isn’t all one conversation for one setting. Having one conversation doesn’t mean the emotions are gone and won’t come back. And it doesn’t mean that your efforts to make it a meaningful summer are futile if they still experience sadness or grief at other times throughout the summer. Ongoing conversations can help your kids process ongoing emotions.

Your kids may be experiencing loss and uncertainty. They may be worried about how this affects their chances at college admissions and scholarships or feel like they are losing their childhood. Your consistent presence and willingness to both sit with and help them adjust to a different kind of summer can provide a positive memory of how to deal with disappointment that will serve them well for years to come.

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Amber questioned how she would balance everything and if her business, something she loves that also feeds her soul, would end up taking a backseat to everything else. Would she end up losing her identity as a mom in the midst of quarantine?

“When the shelter-in-place orders first came out, I was really scared,” says Amber. “My husband works on total commission and I run my business out of our home. Trying to fulfill orders, help with school work and keep up with the household, everything felt overwhelming, especially at a time of year when my business picks up dramatically.”

Amber Brown is an entrepreneur, wife and mom of three children who are 11, 8 and 4. Before COVID-19 hit, she described her life as busy, full and satisfying.

“I can tell that the balance is off quite a bit,” Amber says. “I don’t really feel like I am doing anything well at the moment and that can really mess with your outlook on life for sure. Sometimes, I feel like I am failing at everything.” 

Routines are Important

Fortunately, Amber and her husband were able to have a conversation about their work situations. They also discussed what their girls needed from them and what they both needed in order to stay sane during this crazy period of time. It helped them figure out some semblance of a routine that was reasonable.

One thing Amber noticed about her girls is they were quick to pick up on and react to her emotional state, even if she thought she hid it well.

“I recognized that if I was filled with anxiety about this situation, my kids would be too,” Amber says. “I’m trying to be cool and relaxed so they will feed off of that. I am trying to keep all the balls up in the air and hold on to who I am at the same time.”

The Browns decided it was important to still have routines to help them get through the day.

“I can tell you that just about every day, if it’s past 8:30 and they are not winding down, I tell them, ‘Mommy is done – I love you, but I need time for me.’ In fact, last night at the dinner table, when we had finished eating, I told everyone, ‘This has been fun, but I have a necklace I have to make today. I love you, and I am heading to my office.’”

Amber says it has been helpful that she and her husband came up with a plan. That plan allowed both of them to still get in some exercise and some “time out” moments in order to stay sane.

“I think the biggest thing I have realized is so much of who I am involves activities outside our home. I love my husband and children and I also love being part of the praise and worship team at our church, immersing myself in my work and being around other people. Right now, I just feel disconnected from a lot of what I love that makes me who I am. I have worked hard not to be resentful in the midst of the quarantine. There are definitely moments of sadness, but honestly, this slower time has been lovely for us as a family.”

The Browns have worked hard to keep things fresh while living on a tighter budget. They have spent a lot of time outside. Plus, they have learned new games together and enjoyed just hanging out.

“Our oldest has learned to cook, which I guarantee you is something that would not have happened previously. We would have been running around to dance class, Scouts and everything else she had on her plate.”

Comparisons Aren’t Always Helpful

Amber has tried to guard against comparing herself to other moms and what they are doing right now.

“When I feel comparison creeping in, I realize I have to let it go,” Amber says. “We have figured out what is working for our family right now and that is what really matters. I do have moments of mommy guilt when I think about all the things I should be doing or that I want to be doing that I’m not doing because I just don’t have the energy to do it. At that moment, I try to remind myself that I have been a mom long enough to know it’s going to be okay. We will catch up. Beating myself up is not helpful.

“Our oldest seems to be handling this pretty well. Our second grader needs my attention most right now with school. My goal is to help her stay confident. School is not fun with me, it’s fun with her friends. Normally, right now I would be focused on helping our 4-year-old learn her ABCs, but at the moment, my goal is to focus on her social and emotional well-being.”

What You Can Do When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Identity as a Mom

Maybe you’re reading this and realize that you’ve lost your identity as a mom during this crisis. If so, here are four things you can do:

  • Acknowledge when you have reached your limit and need a time out. Create space for that to happen. It’s good for everybody to be apart for a period of time to hit the reset button.
  • Give yourself some grace if you feel like you are not measuring up. Nobody is at their best at this moment. More than likely, however, we are all trying and that for sure counts for something!
  • Do what works for you. Consider what is best for you and your family at this moment. Don’t worry about not looking like everybody else. As Amber said, comparisons aren’t helpful.
  • Be willing to adapt and adjust on the fly. Walking in unknown territory requires some agility to bend and flex depending on the situation. Sometimes it doesn’t look very pretty, but who cares if it’s what works for your family.

Things are starting to open up and many are no longer sheltering in place. When asked about getting back to normal, Amber says she really believes life will look different for them.

“Even though I was a bit panicked when this whole thing started, wondering what we were going to do, we have really enjoyed being together as a family and the slower pace,” she says. “We will all enjoy having the freedom to go and do things and I will appreciate getting back to the things that fulfill me and help me to be a better mom, but I think we will work to keep the slower pace. It just feels good.”

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It feels like we’re in a weird transition in the pandemic right now. It’s like the world wants to go back to normal again. Officials are lifting some of the quarantine regulations, but we are definitely not out of the woods yet with the COVID-19 virus. 

I see people out in public and it seems like they are acting on two ends of a spectrum. Some people are continuing to be very cautious, donning masks everywhere they go. They’re following the arrows, standing on X’s in the store aisles and maintaining a hard “no” to people coming over for a visit. At the opposite end of the spectrum, folks are throwing caution completely to the wind, acting as if things are back to normal and ignoring any kind of preventative guidelines. 

Mix all this with what we’ve been going through the last two months, and what comes out is a lot of people on edge. It’s an emotionally-charged environment. Social media is fraught with all kinds of opinions and conspiracy theories and hostile exchanges about who’s-behind-what with the pandemic. It’s enough to make a person question their sanity.  

My kids see all of this. They take notice when other families are doing something different than us. They talk to their friends who are inviting others over for sleepovers and those whose parents are saying absolutely not. And they can sense the tension in each store line between those who wear masks and those who aren’t. 

So, how do we use this time to teach our children about emotional boundaries? 

What is an emotional boundary? 

When you see the lion exhibit at the zoo, there’s a boundary between you and the lions. And for good reason! The boundary is there to guard and protect you from the lions. It’s also there to protect the lions from you and all the other spectators. The boundary puts a healthy space between you and the danger. It defines which space belongs to you and which space belongs to the lions. Both lions and spectators benefit from this boundary. But if the lion makes its way to the spectator’s space (or, if a spectator shimmies his way into the lion’s space), well, bad things can happen. 

Emotional boundaries do the same thing. They serve to guard and protect us from threats to our emotional well-being. They also put a healthy space between you and other people. Sometimes people can cross the boundary. This happens in lots of different ways: bullying, shaming, name-calling, manipulation. If boundaries aren’t held, our emotional health and sense of self suffers. This can cause anxiety, depression or a sense of depleted self-worth. 

As we think about all that’s happening with the pandemic and the emotionally-charged opinions flying around like crossfire, emotional boundaries are compromised.

As parents, this is the opportunity to teach our children how to build and maintain appropriate emotional boundaries during this pandemic

How We Teach Our Kids Emotional Boundaries 

1. Model. Our kids watch us. Children take cues from their parents, especially when they aren’t sure how to respond to a situation. 

I was talking with a neighbor one day with my daughter present, and they began to explain to me their conspiracy theory on where the virus came from and what certain leaders were or were not doing about it. I completely disagreed, and normally would have made it known. But out of respect for my neighbor and because my daughter was watching, I kept calm and l listened. I validated his opinion without giving in to his hype and politely ended our conversation. Shortly after, of course, I got the chance to explain to my daughter that I didn’t agree with him and why, but that we must also be careful to respect other people’s opinions. 

How do you react in front of your kids when you see someone practicing a different habit of mask-wearing than you? Do you ridicule them? 

If you learn that another parent is allowing (or not allowing) their kids’ friends to come over and that’s not what you would do, do you allow your emotions to get the best of you and put labels on that parent? 

These negative reactions add fuel to the breakdown of emotional boundaries, and our kids sense this. Modeling appropriate emotional boundaries is essential to helping our children have appropriate emotional boundaries

2. Explain the importance of respecting others even when they do things differently. Modeling is one thing. But it’s so important to follow this up with a good conversation with your children about why you still show respect to others, despite the differences in the way they do things. 

After being in a store where some are wearing masks and others aren’t, take the opportunity to say something like, “Did you notice that some people were/were not wearing masks? Our family doesn’t do that, and this is why… However, that doesn’t give us permission to speak mean or disrespect people who don’t do what we do. They have their reasons for doing that, just like we have our reasons for doing this.

3. Be confident in who you are, even when others are disrespectful. Your kids are in situations where they see the glares between mask-wearers and non-mask-wearers in the stores. Or, one kid in the neighborhood might make fun of another for not being allowed to play outside with others. I’ve even heard some rather rude comments between strangers when it comes to social distancing. 

Help your children understand that people don’t always understand that it’s okay for others to do things differently and that they may react in ways that are disrespectful and make you feel bad. These kinds of reactions from others encroach on their emotional well-being. 

Say something like, we can’t help what other people say or think about us. But we have to be okay with who we are. We wear masks/don’t wear masks… play/don’t play outside with others… go to/don’t go to other people’s houses, because this is what our family thinks is best. It won’t always be like this, but right now we are making the best decisions for our family that we know how to. 

Lessons That Go Beyond the Pandemic

Resilience, self-confidence, security, respect of others and self-respect—these are all characteristics that come out of teaching our children about emotional boundaries. And there is no doubt we all need these to keep ourselves from going bonkers during this time in the pandemic. 

However, what you need to remember is that these lessons go way beyond the here and now. And perhaps there is no greater opportunity than during this crazy, emotional situation. You have the chance to instill in your children how to have strong emotional boundaries in the face of adversity. Your kids will need these skills for the rest of their lives. Don’t waste this opportunity to teach them.

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For many of us parents, this time of social distancing and self-quarantine caught us off guard.

Before, we might have had small chunks of time spent at home, like when a child was sick. However, quarantine has more than doubled and even tripled the amount of time that I spend with my children. Back in the good old days in March, my sons would spend over seven hours at school. Once they came home, it would be dinner, homework, chores and some video gaming time. Then it would be off to bed. In reality, we didn’t spend lots of time together. 

Now with concentrated togetherness, work from home and virtual school, I am starting to see parts of them that I didn’t know existed. (Some of those traits remind me of me.) I am starting to have all these doubts and questions creeping in:

  • Am I doing this right?
  • What am I doing wrong?
  • Do we have enough (time, money, energy) to do this?
  • Do I have what it takes to parent my child?
  • Is this really how my child behaves at school?
  • Am I ruining their life, education and future?
  • In my heart of hearts, I am asking myself:  Am I A Bad Parent?

Questioning yourself as a parent can be a GOOD thing! (But be careful!)

When we became parents, we dreamed of our child’s future—what type of schools they would attend, the activities that they would participate in, and the friends they would have. Never in that dream did we consider a “global pandemicand how it would affect school, interaction with friends, and our family.

I have chosen to view this time as a Reset Button for myself and my family. I haven’t camped out with fear and guilt, but I have been introspective:

  • As a family, what are our priorities?
  • What can I control and what can I not control?
  • When it comes to my children, what type of relationship do I want?
  • What does my child need from me as their parent?

Accept that you did the best that you could.

Most of us were not taught how to be teachers. We don’t have medical training. We have never experienced a pandemic that mandated shelter-in-place. This is uncharted territory, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, make it a learning opportunity. Have a family meeting and have a conversation with your children to see how they are doing. Take the emotional temperature of your family. Learn, then let yourself off the hook.

Recognize that there will be a transition out of quarantine.

As we prepare to “re-enter” the world, take some time to process how you have changed as a parent and what you may want to change going forward.

From Guilt to Action

Asking yourself these questions can move you from feeling guilty to taking action:

  • Am I confusing being a good parent with being a perfect parent?
  • Am I taking care of me to be the best version of myself?
  • Is the issue really exhaustion from work, virtual schooling and parenting?
  • What are the lessons that I can teach my children during this time?
  • Am I the parent that my child needs me to be during this time?

Asking yourself these questions can help you learn from this quarantine time:

  • What have I learned from and about my kids?
  • How has my family benefitted from this time together?
  • What has been a struggle for us?
  • How will we as a family be different after the quarantine ends?
  • How will I parent differently after quarantine?

It’s always good to be trying to improve as a parent, but it is easy to fall into the perfection trap and end up sitting in feelings of fear and guilt. This doesn’t benefit you or your kids.

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Routines and consistency are vital to the growth of our children. Research tells us this and experience confirms it. But you know what? A global pandemic tends to be a routine-buster! Nothing rocks our daily flow more than the sudden closing of schools and businesses. So what did we do? Families had to make adjustments to meet a new temporary normal. Bedtimes shifted. Morning routines looked radically different. Navigating a “normal” day became a balance of school, work, video conferencing, and the ever-continuing struggle of screen time. But how can we get back on track after quarantine?

For us, our kids’ bedtime shifted later in hopes that they might sleep a little later in the morning (that was a fail). The morning rush and commute was gone. Screen times increased for our kids, partially due to school, but mostly to help us get work done. Spring baseball was just a memory. Our biggest adjustments really were figuring out how to both work remotely and help our second grader with school. 

But here we are, eight weeks in and businesses and restaurants are reopening, childcare centers that may have been closed or limited to essential personnel are taking steps to welcome all of their kids back. Not only that, but the school year has ended, and for many of us, summer camps are now nonexistent. Virtual learning at least provided some sort of structure for our kids. My son knew he had assignments to do daily and when his video calls were… and he reminded us often. 

Now it’s time to shift routines again and get back on track. In just a few short weeks, my wife returns to work at a childcare center. My 4-year-old will also return to her childcare center sometime in the month of June. My son needs some structure for the summer as I still work remotely. So, what do we change? How do we return to some sense of the routines that we had before? 

Questions to Ask to Help You Get Back on Track After Quarantine

As we discussed this as a family, we asked ourselves some questions.

  • What do we begin to shift now to prepare our kids to return to a new schedule?  Bedtimes, for instance, need to adjust. Take gradual steps to resume a pre-quarantine bedtime. The same could be said for morning routines. We can make small steps to reclaim some of our routines in this area starting with what time we all get up. Abrupt changes are difficult for everyone—but especially for kids.
  • What have we started doing during this quarantine that we want to keep? Our kids have had tremendously more free, creative play. We have spent more evenings around the fire pit. More time has been spent in the hammock. How do we protect these things that have brought so much joy? 
  • What do we want to learn over the summer? As I look for ways to fill my son’s days, I’ll start by asking him what he wants to learn more about. What can we explore as a family that will continue their learning? Just because summer is over doesn’t mean learning has to end, but it can be fun learning experiences.

Prepare for Transition to Get Back on Track

As your family begins to discuss this next transition, here are 3 recommendations I have:

  1. Get your mindset right. Mentally prepare for transitions in your routines. Get ready for the battles that you may have to fight.
  2. Get your plan together. Have a family meeting to discuss this time of transition. (Check out this blog for some great ideas.) What does your specific situation require? This is a great opportunity to reinforce with kids why routines are important and why we have to also be flexible and make changes sometimes. 
  3. Get tough skin. (If you don’t already have it.) Let’s face it—kids don’t like change. Many of us adults don’t either. You may have had weeks with much less structure, but now we have to make more changes. Not everyone will be happy, but that’s okay. 

★ Nothing says that we have to return to the same routine as we had before the quarantine. Take this opportunity to evaluate what you as a family really want to do and what you value. You don’t have to make life as busy as it was before. ★

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During this pandemic, we have been inundated with guilt overload and messages about how our families should take advantage of this concentrated time together. The internet has become the panacea of all work and productivity-related, education-related and family engagement information. It has provided activities for families to do together from going to virtual museum tours to home improvement projects that include the kids, to all types of digital familial interactions.

There’s lots of good information out there, but it can make you feel guilty if you aren’t careful.

Some of us feel encouraged and empowered by this time. That’s awesome! Some of us are overwhelmed, or, dare I say, feel a lot of guilt. We are trying to keep up the multiple roles of worker, teacher, spouse and parent. It has been difficult to manage these roles with any sense of balance. 

The Problem of Guilt Overload

If I focus on work, and my children need me, I feel like I failed as a worker.  

If I spend time with my family, and I take a work call or email, I feel like I failed as a parent. 

Guilt is the name of the game. To be honest, if I see another article about how to work productively at home, I might scream. If I see another picture-perfect moment of family togetherness on social media, I may hurt somebody (metaphorically, of course).

I am weary of feeling unproductive as a worker and guilty as a parent. I’m supposed to meet deadlines AND spend quality time with my family since we are together at home. Somehow. This is the first time we have ever dealt with a situation such as COVID-19 and its impact on our lives (at work and at home). Many of us have sought to keep those two parts of our lives separated. Now, they are crashing into one another. 

How Can We Get Out Of This Rut Of Guilt Overload and Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda? 

1. Realize that there is no ONE right way to deal with parenting and working during a PANDEMIC.

As parents, we pressure ourselves so much to be the PERFECT PARENT when we spend time with our children. We want “magic moments” all the time. Now that we are home together during this time, we often have the same expectations. Be realistic and intentional about the family activities you choose. Most times the “magic” happens as we give ourselves permission to do things DIFFERENTLY, not PERFECTLY. 

We are also tasked with being productive while we work at home as well. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. This is new for everyone. Productivity will look different. We may work after the kids go to bed or get up early before “home school.” Work will get done, but maybe not in the same way as before COVID-19.

2. Choose the voices that you listen to.

We are BOMBARDED with messages from friends, family, news, social media and even our own voice on how we “should” be dealing with social distancing, homeschooling and working from home. You have an opportunity to make a conscious decision on how to handle homeschooling, upcoming summer plans and continued work from home. Now is the time to make your own way—not to be or feel judged by another “picture-perfect” Facebook or Instagram moment. 

3. Our kids are listening to and watching us.

Kids feed off our emotions. If you feel anxious or stressed, your child’s behavior or mood may mirror yours. If teaching history to your youngster is frustrating, ask yourself, “How can I do this differently?” Friends of mine watched the movie National Treasure to get their daughter curious about history. Remember, beating up yourself does no one ANY GOOD—especially your KIDS. 

I have recognized that GUILT, “the gift that keeps on giving,” benefits no one. I have to be okay doing the best I can with what I have and what I know. In the midst of my upside-down crazy life, I am choosing to remember the words of John Lennon:

Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

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