“Pandemic Parenting” has turned me into the kind of parent that I never wanted to be. I have always been responsive and decisive as a parent. I see a problem, I find the solution. I rarely second-guess. I rely on parenting experts, feedback from friends with older children, and my own instincts.
Covid-19 has upended all of that.
There is no one to guide me. Information changes at an exhausting pace. Parents are being forced to make tough decisions, and consulting friends doesn’t make those decisions easier since families are landing all over the board in how they approach managing the level of risk and their sanity.
We are eating food that we do not normally eat, shopping at grocery stores we don’t normally shop at – for the sake of being able to use pickup or delivery services and not enter a building. Getting food in this way comes at a high cost, so I am making decisions about what food to get, what to buy in bulk, and how to store it. We consume this food at different paces than pre-pandemic and I find myself constantly scrambling to place another order, having not yet found the right rhythm.
In accordance with CDC guidance, I sanitize with an EPA-recommended household disinfectant. When my kids were little, I switched to mostly natural or handmade cleaning products, not wanting strong substances to be on surfaces that kids frequently touch and lick. I was always in the camp of “some dirt and a few germs are good for the immune system.” Now, I have a checklist of high-touch surfaces and wear rubber gloves as I use a spray that contains diluted bleach.
Everything is a risk, and everything requires calculating the risk. Do we invite kids over for a socially distanced playdate, and trust them to stay apart? Do we attempt a trip to the zoo? Do we send them back to school in the Fall?
I look at the Illinois reports on coronavirus cases, deaths, and positivity rates, trying to make sense of it all. I look at our county and zip code. I avoid the national news, except in very small doses.
I like awake at night, constantly going through the options, wondering if I am doing the right thing. I question every decision I make. Some days, I think we have to learn how to live with some level of risk since this will be our life for awhile, and other times I think “No thanks, we’ll continue as we have been.” In my heart, I think my kids would likely be fine if they contracted the virus and all evidence points to that, but I worry if something were to happen to my husband or myself and that impact on our family.
There are no right answers. We have to keep plowing through a murky sea of “what ifs.”