We live in a modern world. Balancing work and play is challenging enough. Now, imagine adding pandemics into the equation. It has been 7 months, although it sometimes feels like a decade, since the official outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. I could probably write dozens of pages on how this has impacted our daily lives and interrupted our routines, but, for the purpose of this blog, I’m only going to focus on its effects on the relationship we have with our children. We have taken advantage of this unprecedented situation to strengthen the relationship we have with our children and I’ll explain how.
From the moment this pandemic started, we realized that our children would be out of school for a long period of time. Knowing how much they enjoy spending time with their friends, we recognized the need to step up and make ourselves available for play. Yay! How exciting! Play all day like there wasn’t anything else for us to do!
First, we tried to assess the situation we found ourselves in. Everything seemed out of whack and we felt totally helpless and confused. Hundreds of questions came to mind: What will happen now that they are no longer in school? What are they going to do without their friends? Where will I find the time to give them all the attention they need? How can I balance work and play? How could I possibly divide my time equally between a toddler, a very demanding five-year-old, and a ten-year-old? Don’t they already spend enough time watching TV and playing video games? What good could possibly come out of a situation like this?
All these questions remained unanswered for the first couple of weeks. We were lost and frightened, but didn’t share our thoughts and feelings with the kids. The very first thing we agreed on was the importance of staying positive. The second, most important, thing for us was: staying active. We’re a family that likes to spend lots of time outdoors (bike riding or walking) so we decided to continue with our activities throughout the pandemic. Luckily, Canadians didn’t have to go into a lockdown, so we were free to continue with our daily workout routines. My first goal was to teach our five-year-old to ride her bike without the training wheels. I was so determined that I taught her in one day! It was a very demanding workout but well worth the effort. Losing the training wheels meant going for longer rides, and riding faster! We, also, started playing tennis more frequently. No one in our family plays tennis professionally. In fact, I can hardly hit the ball with the racket, but we did our best and the kids enjoyed spending time on the court. As most of the families, we also watched a lot of movies and music videos. The latter turned out to be great family workout sessions. We read and discussed books, created art and did crafts. We also spent many hours in the kitchen cooking and experimenting together.
Today, after our long journey, the following are some of the things we’ve learned along the way:
1. We’ve become closer to our children. They ask questions and share their feelings and thoughts with us more frequently now.
2. We’ve become more physically active. After all, taking them outside a couple of times a day, every day, has been beneficial for us as well.
3. We got to know our children better, although we thought that we knew everything about them. We discovered more about their personalities, interests, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and talents.
4. We learned to function as a small group: work together, solve problems and overcome challenges – sometimes very effectively.
I like to remind people: We’re not a perfect family. We argue and disagree all the time because we have different personalities, and that’s ok. The important thing is to create some kind of a balance. We may disagree with each other, but we also spend many happy hours together, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. And that’s what counts!
2020 is a long and challenging year, but it’s not a complete waste of our time. We’ll come out of this stronger and wiser but, most importantly, closer as a family.
Written by Vedrana Vodopivec
Clay sculpture and artwork by Milena Vodopivec (age 5)