Managing My 6 Kids During a Pandemic
I’ve been wrestling with what I could possibly say that could be helpful about the turn of recent events, at least from a college perspective.
My oldest son is a college Senior trying to finish up his Integrated Studies degree with Music and Mass Comm concentrations.
The next oldest is a Sophomore Electrical Engineering major with minors in CIS & Math.
The next is a freshman Molecular-Psychobiology Major and the fourth is a freshman Psychology Major.
So…helping them and us handle the changes caused by coronavirus, forcing them to return home from college and begin online classes, is going to require a lot of logistics.
Step One: Upgrade Our Internet
I contacted Comcast to increase our internet speed. That was literally the first thing I did.
Step Two: Create A Learning/Study Space
I designated an area in our house where the college kids can physically study and participate in their lectures.
Borrowing extra trash cans from our neighbors, we excavated our old homeschool in-house classroom, (which had become a catch-all, practically in-house storage unit) so my children would each have a desk and could use the big whiteboard for their studies.
Step Three: Manage Expectations
They are not expected to babysit nor entertain their younger siblings, nor are they expected to cook, grocery shop nor do heavy cleaning.
Also, we recognize they will all need their alone time to decompress, de stress or just watch Netflix/play video games.
Their emotional health is important. And they cannot be “on” all the time. They can’t. Yet they ARE expected to be good roommates to the rest of us.
They don’t have carte blanc to make the workload of running this household exponentially harder on me, their Dad and siblings. So leaving wakes of destruction everywhere they go is not going to fly. This is a sizable disruption for everyone, not just them.
Step Four: The Money
It’s going to cost a lot more to feed everyone, especially if this goes on for months.
So our oldest son took it upon himself to do something completely unexpected.
Without telling us, he applied for and got a job working overnights (3 days a week, 12-hour shifts – in a warehouse!) He didn’t tell us this plan because he knew we would object.
His rationale? “What if this virus makes Dad get laid off? What if HE gets sick and we actually wind up needing money? Now is the time for me to take a job that is part of the supply chain to essential goods and services. If the family doesn’t wind up needing the money, I’ll use it to pay off my student loans.”
He’s 22-years old. Carrying a full course load in his last year of college.
Now he’s also working a graveyard shift plus a part time job (at a pharmacy) – in the middle of a pandemic! And he’s doing it because it makes sense and he’s convinced he can handle it for a few months.
I’m proud of him and also worried about him. (So if you pray, I sure would appreciate yours for my son, Daniel. This is going to be a lot.)
Step Five: Treasure The Unexpected Blessing In All Of This
None of our families are likely to ever have this much time together under one roof again. Never.
Even in the summers, kids are working internships and summer jobs. Even over Christmas break, it’s maybe two or three weeks.
This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to spend weeks – maybe even months all together as a family.
Don’t waste it obsessing about the logistics.
My advice, TREASURE it.
Take pictures. Make memories. Try fun recipes.
Don’t let anything rob you of making the most of this reprieve from ordinary life.
This is rare, precious time for YOUR family and for your relationships. It’s the kind of time you almost certainly won’t ever get again. I suggest we all should treasure it.
(And if you hear nothing else from me – let it be Step Five?)
Yes, we are practicing social distancing.
Yes, I’ve already had to tell my kids “no” about getting together with friends.
Yes – even the adult ones. ????
And yes, they’re annoyed at me for being “so paranoid.”
Yes, it’s costing a fortune to feed all six of them.
Yes, I’m as worried as anyone else about all of it.
But no, I’m not going to panic.
(You shouldn’t either.)
We’ve got this. And as parents, the way we respond to this pandemic and crisis will shape how our kids do.
Make a commitment not to let this become a time of fear and stress in your home. If you have to turn off the TV and designate a limited time every day to staying updated on pandemic news then do it.
Don’t let fear dominate this time together. But don’t let depraved indifference to the realities of the threat characterize it either.
There’s a middle ground that keeps our families safer and allows us to enjoy having our kids close again. We didn’t choose this mess – but we sure do get to choose our response.
We are choosing joy, pragmatism and making happy memories. (Like the big girls taking butterfly wing pictures for their Instagram & Snapchat stories!) ????
Hugs, Love and Prayers for you and your family.
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