Kids can teach us how to cope with pandemic
It is human nature to try to eliminate uncertainty. We plan, we save, we put things into both literal and metaphorical boxes. We do our best to control our surroundings.
All of that, of course, is out the window at the moment.
For most of us, just about every aspect of life holds uncertainty right now. We don’t know if we’ll get sick, if our parents will get sick, if our children will get sick. To hugely varying degrees, we’re also facing financial uncertainty. How long will we have our jobs? Will we find new jobs? Is it safe to go to work? We don’t know how long it will be before we can do so many of the things we used to consider “normal.” We’re not sure what normal looks like anymore.
As parents, we tend to experience difficult circumstances through two sets of lenses: our own, and our children’s. We’re not the only ones dealing with all the uncertainty, and our children are absorbing much of the same upheaval we are … and in my experience, they’re handling it better than us. As usual, my children are teaching me more than I’m teaching them.
As far as I can tell, children are far better equipped than adults to deal with this crazy time because they are so good at living in the present. Assuming that their basic human needs are met, young children are natural masters at focusing on today … and given current circumstances, that’s a necessary survival skill that we would all be wise to tap into. When my 6-year-old plays outside on a sunny day, he doesn’t worry that tomorrow it might rain.
If there’s a lesson I’m taking from the pandemic, it’s the importance of focusing on what I’m doing right now and what I need to accomplish today. When planning for tomorrow is almost impossible, it becomes more important than ever to handle each day as it comes. If I let myself, I know that I could get absolutely paralyzed by the questions that just can’t be answered. No, I don’t know when we’ll get to see our out-of-state family again. No, I don’t know what tomorrow holds for various job situations. No, I don’t know if school will go all-remote. No, I don’t know if my family will stay healthy.
But I do know about today. Today, I have a roof over my head and enough food to eat. Today, the sun is shining and there’s a nice breeze. Today, I can do my job to the best of my abilities. Today, I can call and chat with an old friend. Today, I can watch a funny movie with my kids. Today, my family is healthy. And as much as I’d like answers to those other questions, today can be enough. If not today, then just this hour, or even this minute. If not this minute, then maybe the next one.
Everyone’s list of “todays” will be different, but I hope you can find some that will get you through this one. There’s a lot that’s out of our control right now, and that can be OK. Take a note from the kids and just enjoy the moments of sunshine when they happen.