Over the last week, our news feeds have filled with news about the Coronavirus. They focus on how to mitigate the spread of the virus, opinion pieces on government response, doomsday-ladened predictions, and light-hearted and optimistic takes to ease our mental health a bit.
Through it all, we are still dads. We have children who must get up, get fed, go to “school,” and remain children. So, here’s a short list of things to keep you focused on being your best dad.
- You might be working from home, but that doesn’t mean you get to stay in your pajamas all day.
- You might be laid off, but the economy will rebound and business will return. It will probably take longer than any of us want, but remember, the Great Depression had its end too.
- You may have the Frozen 2 soundtrack stuck in your head and memorized forward and backward, but you own headphones and it is okay to step outside and scream the lyrics to “Highway to Hell” by AC-DC.
- You might come up with the perfect routine, only to see it blown to smithereens by 9:00 am. And that’s ok. Kids are resilient and will learn what they need to, regardless of whether it fits into a nice, neat box. Know that you being present will have a much more lasting impact than whether you homeschooled them properly.
- You might forget how to speak to adults and find yourself using more Pixar movie analogies after this is all over (and Disney and PBS Kids etc…). But like Robert Fulghum told us in the 1980s, “All [We] Really Need to Know [We] Learned in Kindergarten” anyway.
- You might have to change your fitness routine (or start one!). Be creative. Remember that people exercised before gyms and fitness centers. Make up activities to keep moving. Get your kids involved, too. Show them how to embrace fitness instead of dreading it.
- You might have to change how you use technology and let your screen-time rule slack off a bit. Whether it’s FaceTiming grandparents or watching YouTube science videos with your kids, the world is still out there. Go explore it!
- You might not know every answer. You might find some of the ways your kids learn math differs from when you learned. Heck, Pluto isn’t even a planet anymore! But you will be okay. You are not alone, and there are resources to help you.
- You might have to be more creative with playtime. You don’t have to overthink it, though. Play catch. Race around the block. Bounce a ball against the wall. The important thing is to be active together. Sometimes the simplest is the best.
And a few more reminders…
- Forgive. You will have moments when your frustration gets the better of you, and you say something you wish you hadn’t. Your partner will too, and so will your kids. Let these things go and move forward as best you can.
- Be grateful. Each day there will be moments to celebrate and remember because they will lift your spirit. Invite your partners and children into this practice, too.
- Stay connected. Whether it is standing 6 feet a part in your backyard with a beer or coffee in hand, or joining a zoom session, Dad Night Outs can continue to go on. Stay connected. Lean on your friends.
- Alone time matters. Whether you are sharing space in a 2-bedroom apartment or a 5 bedroom house, it is important to find a way to be alone and collect yourself from time to time. Journal, meditate, pray, or watch a guilty pleasure for a few minutes. Whatever it is, make sure to recharge your batteries for the next round.
Most importantly, you might find yourself struggling physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you find yourself needing help, don’t forget there are free counseling sessions available and there are a network of dads available to connect with at Dads with Daughters and Dads with Sons by Fathering Together. We are all in this together. We will help one another through this situation and be stronger for it. So for now…
- Keep your distance (6 feet or more)
- Wash your hands (while singing Happy Birthday twice)
- Stay connected via social media, video calls, or shouting across the yard
- Never forget you are not alone.