COVID and me: how my kids and I found the good in a bad situation
When we first began hearing about Covid in early 2020, it barely registered. Who could have predicted that months later, our lives would be upended by this virus, which has impacted just about every aspect of our lives? Like many parents, having my kids at home, working full time and trying to keep sane has been a lot to handle. But I’m proud of how we’ve managed and, when I reflect on these past months, I realize we’ve found the good in the situation and I’ve found some of the strategies from my professional life have translated to managing my family life.
Having the kids home in the spring was tough. No one really knew what was happening, and there was confusion and concern. Before classes started up in September, we talked a lot about our choices, and ultimately decided they would return to class. The kids really wanted to go back—they missed their friends, and from my perspective, school is not just about education; it is so much more than that. The social aspect is so important for them, and I wanted them to have that. I think it was the right choice, but I still worry.
Talking to kids about Covid: provide context
For me, the most important thing when we’re talking about Covid—or any tough subject, for that matter—is providing context. Debunking the myths and being a sounding board for the crazy stuff they may hear from their friends, TV or the internet. I’m also a big believer in telling the truth. Yes, Covid presents risks for us. But like I tell them—if something does happen, we’ll get through it together, like we do everything else. We take precautions and follow Dr. Henry’s guidance, but we can’t stop living our lives.
As a family, we talk every night about the best and worst part of our day. And I take part too—it’s important to me that my kids see my life is not easy or perfect, but that I’m doing it as is, the good, the bad and the ugly. I tell them: it’s OK to have a bad experience, or to fail. That’s part of life. And we all make mistakes—me included. It’s what you do next that’s important. During Covid, this has been particularly important—they miss normalcy. I try to help them understand that it’s not forever, it’s just for now, and that the pain and discomfort comes from wrestling with it and not accepting what is real and occurring in the now. Once we accept what is so and surrender, there is peace and a clearing for something new and wonderful to present itself.
Modeling good behaviour
As they’re getting older, my kids are becoming more interested in my business, and are starting to ask a lot of questions. Once, one of their friends Googled me and pronounced me “famous” so we had a little talk about that. It’s really important to me that I stay humble, and they see that corporate success does not give you a pass in the rest of your life. Accountability is vital. Being responsible for your actions, taking care in how you interact with the world.
Not enough hours in the day?
People often ask how I find time to get everything done in my day—something I think most parents struggle with. For me, it’s all about good scheduling. The calendar is king! Knowing where I’m supposed to be, and when, allows me to find windows to spend with my kids, both together and one on one. Professionally and personally, it’s what keeps me on track.
Conversely, it’s important to be flexible and adaptable. Life can be messy, and the reality is, sometimes we wing it. For us, dinners together are important, whether it’s takeout in a park, or around the table at home. Another strategy is I get up early and get a jump on my day. I can whip through emails, get in a workout—so when they’re up, we can do breakfast and get organized and out the door without too much stress.
As they’re getting older, too, their interests are starting to diverge. My son will be 13 in a month and starting to assert his independence. He doesn’t need me as much as he used to, and I miss that… but of course it’s part of parenting! He’s also begun to get interested in cooking so that’s… interesting, too! With Covid keeping us home more, I’m encouraging them to explore in the kitchen, taking turns cooking and cleaning up.
Keeping it all together
As parents, I think we all try to keep screen time to a minimum, but some days it’s just easier to throw on a movie—and that’s OK. My kids do chores to earn screen time, which I think helps balance it. They’re digital natives—this is how they communicate, are entertained, learn—you can’t fight it. You just have to find healthy ways to integrate that into their lives.
Most days they’re outside at least an hour, being active, playing with our dog or riding bikes. Luckily during Covid that’s something we’ve been able to continue. I’m also a big believer that it’s OK for your kids to be bored sometimes. In fact, I think it’s a good thing now and then. It forces them to be creative and figure out how to entertain themselves.
My advice to other parents is—be gentle with yourself. We’re all doing our best, and our kids don’t need us to be perfect. They just need us to be there. We’ll get through this and come out stronger on the other side.
Tony Reda is dad to 3 children (12, 11 and 9 years old) and the Founder, President, CEO & Director of Tectonic Metals Inc. He lives with his family in Vernon, B.C.