Pandemic Parenting: When There is No Good Choice

We frequently talk with our kids about making good choices. Evaluate the pros and cons, and make the good choice. But what if there isn’t one? What if all the choices just suck? Welcome to pandemic parenting.

Right now, it’s schools. I could send my kids to school for the sake of their mental health. I could keep them home to do virtual school for the sake of their physical health. If I send them to school, I get to have my job. I get my alone time back and my mental health. If I keep them home, we can still see our grandparents. I can reduce their exposure and, therefore, my anxiety. If I send them to school, we get to keep our community and whatever is left of the school activities we love. If they stay home, we are minimizing the effect on our family when schools are inevitably closed for weeks due to an exposure.

There is no good choice.

But it feels like this plays out in everything I do. My mind is flooded with options, and at the end of the list, there is no winner.

If I get a babysitter for a few hours, I can catch up on what is left of my job. If I get a babysitter, I can’t guarantee she isn’t exposing our family.

There is no good choice.

If I make the trip to Costco, I am adding another possible point of exposure. If I order Costco through Instacart, I am paying so much more for the same items.

There is no good choice.

If I let him go to the class birthday party, I am adding more risk of exposure. If I don’t let him go to the party, he misses out on quality time with new friends yet again.

There is no good choice.

If we take a planned beach vacation with safety precautions including masks and extreme distancing, we get to make memories during a season of endless disappointments. But then we have to quarantine for 14 days when we return and stay isolated from our friends.

There is no good choice.

If I keep all of our regular dentist, doctor, and therapy appointments, we are keeping up on important aspects of our health. But, we’re also adding more points of exposure.

There is no good choice.

If we play at the park, we get some much needed play time outside of our house. If we play at the playground and some kid gets too close, is it worth the risk?

There is no good choice.

COVID-19 has stripped me of my confidence as a parent. I question every decision, every potential risk and then sit with the guilt of the choice I made, wondering if the next 14 days will make me regret it. We are being asked to be socially responsible and community-focused, while still protecting our own kids’ physical and mental health. And don’t forget about your marriage. Oh, and take care of yourself, too.

All choices come with benefits and risks. But during pandemic parenting, the risks could mean a breakdown in mental health, serious financial consequences, or exposure to a virus that has killed more than half a million people worldwide.

We’re told to make the best decision for our family.

But what if there is no good choice?

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Sarah is mama to 8-year-old, Henry, 5-year-old Clark and 4-year-old Lucy. After growing up in Manhattan, Kansas (Go Cats!), she moved to Minnesota where she met her husband, Shea. Realizing how much she hated snow in May, she convinced him to move to Kansas City in 2010. Together they have lived in Midtown, Waldo, the Plaza before migrating to Johnson County. Sarah has her master’s in urban administration. In between the crazy, she likes to try new restaurants, go for walks around the neighborhood, dig in the sand at Franklin Park and experience all things KC.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Sarah, I know you’re serious, but is this post meant to be humorous? After “ There is no good choice,” I was hoping to see a better punchline. You make valid points, but you need to focus on more positivity— for your and your children’s sakes. I’m in NYC, where I’ve seen it all, experienced so much, lost family members and friends, try my best to not just make good choices, but the best possible choices given the circumstances. We cannot let what’s happening get us so down and depressed— it transfers to the children and they do not have the experience to see beyond. So we pray to God for guidance with Pandemic Parenting.

  2. I saw your post through Facebook and immediately shared it. Yes, yes, and yes to all of this. Thank you for so clearly stating what so many of are struggling with.

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