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kids questions covid-19

"Mommy, are there ever going to be parades again?" My 4-year-old asked this the other day over breakfast, apropos of nothing and everything all at the same time.

"I don't know, sweetie," I replied. "I hope soon."

"Me too. Because I really love parades." (Note: To the best of my recollection, he has been to one parade in his whole life, the Westchester County Volunteer Firemen Association Convention Parade, and it clearly left quite an impression.)

Parades aside, we all have a lot of questions right now and our children are no exception. The difference, of course, is that we adults know (at least most of the time) that we have no choice but to live with some uncertainty. Our little ones, though, expect us to have the answers.

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Everyone's anxieties are running high right now, and parents are constantly bombarded with well-meaning but vague advice (including, I hope not too frequently, my own). "Be honest," we say, "but also developmentally appropriate." Or, "Be authentic, but make sure not to burden children with your own emotions." It's not that it's bad advice—it's accurate—but it's also kind of like telling someone who has never played baseball to "hit the ball squarely." Great idea. What, though, does it mean?


Parents in my talks and virtual coaching sessions have been asking me recently how I would answer a range of questions their children have about their new day-to-day reality. "Not just generally," they press, "But, like, what exactly would you say?" Parents want to tell their children the truth in a way they understand but won't find overwhelming. They want to follow the popular wisdom—to be honest, developmentally appropriate, authentic, and with boundaries—but need to know more about what that looks like.

And so I offer what follows. These are a few of the questions parents have asked me about, along with what I might say in response were I speaking to my own children. My words are only suggestions; as always, I am a firm believer that you are the expert when it comes to your children and that you know best how to communicate with them in ways they will understand. Consider these answers merely a jumping-off point—food for thought to inform the conversations in your own family.

1. "When is this all going to end?"

I don't know, honey. Nobody does. This situation is just so new. But even right now, as we're talking about it, there are so many people—doctors, nurses, scientists—working to make sure it's safe for everyone to go back to school, work, birthday parties, play dates and restaurants as soon as possible.

2. "Are we going to get coronavirus?"

We are doing everything we can to make sure that we do not get the virus. We are washing our hands a lot and staying home. When we need to go outside, we are wearing masks and staying far away from other people. All of those things are keeping us, as well as so many other people, safe. If we do get coronavirus, it may not feel any different from a cold or the flu. If we need help, there are amazing doctors and nurses who will know how to take care of us.

3. "Why do we have to wear masks?"

Wearing masks helps us remember not to touch our faces, which is important in case there are germs on our hands. When we're home, our hands are mostly clean because we're washing them a lot, so it's not as bad if we touch our faces. When we're outside, we may get germs on our hands, and the masks help us remember not to touch our faces, or to stop the virus from getting in our noses or mouths if we have a really bad itch and we can't help it. We also want to protect other people, just in case we may be carrying the virus.

4. "Why is everything so boring?"

Things feel boring right now because there are a lot of rules about things we can't do. We can't go to school or work, or have play dates, or go to places that are closed like the library, museums and playgrounds. That can make the days feel really long. I also sometimes say I'm bored when what I really am is sad, mad or frustrated. Or sometimes when I just need a hug and something to make me laugh.

5. "But if you're home, why can't you play with me more?"

You really want me to pay attention to you, huh? I get that. It used to be that when I was home, you were the thing I'd focus on most, because I went to my office to focus on work. Just because I'm home all the time now doesn't mean that my work—and all the other things I used to do during the day—have gone away. I still have to do all those things, I just have to do them while I'm at home.

I know that must be confusing, and also annoying. It's confusing and annoying for me too. Let's make sure to figure out each morning when I am going to be able to play with you, and then we can both look forward to it even when we're doing other stuff.

6. "Why did you yell at me before?"

I was really frustrated that you spilled your water, even though I knew it was an accident. I didn't mean to yell, but it came out of my mouth before I could stop it. I'm sorry. I know that's been happening a lot; I'm having some big feelings because of everything that's different, and sometimes they're spilling out onto you by mistake.

7. "Is that why you and Daddy are yelling at each other more too?"

Yup. Everyone in our family—including you, I might add!—is having big feelings because this is such a weird and tricky time. And we all have to stay inside together in a pretty small space. So there are lots of big feelings in this one small space, and lots of times the feelings aren't landing where they're supposed to. The fight that daddy and I had was this big [hold up pointer and thumb an inch apart], but the love that's in our family is this big [hold out arms as far as they stretch]!

8. "Mommy, are you scared?"

Yes, sometimes I do feel a little bit scared. It's okay to feel scared; this is new for all of us, and new things can be scary. But then I think about how safe and cozy we are right here in this house, and how much love there is here. I think about how many people in the world are helping other people right now, how much good there is in the world, even when there are bad things happening. And then I feel better.

9. "Will you come with me to pee [from a child who has been peeing by himself for years now]?"

Yes. [Then, to self: I have a zillion things to do and there's no reason on earth I need to come watch my 5-year-old pee, and yet little kids often need more connection during times like these, and at least she's asking for my attention kindly today rather than being super irritable and defiant like yesterday, so here I go to the bathroom.]

10. "What can I have for a snack?"

Forgive me, I hadn't realized it's already been 37 seconds since you last ate. Once again, from the top, here are the options...

This post was originally published on Psychology Today

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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@9_fingers_/Twenty20

As a mom, I say the phrase 'let me just…' to my kids more times a day than I can count.

Yes, I can help you log into your class, let me just send this email.
Yes, I can play with you, let me just make one more call.
Yes, I can get you a snack, let me just empty the dishwasher.

I say it a lot at work, too.

Yes, I can write that article, let me just clear my inbox.
Yes, I can clear my inbox, let me just finish this meeting.
Yes, I can attend that meeting, let me just get this project out the door.

The problem is that every 'let me just' is followed by another 'let me just'... and by the time they're all done, the day is over, and I didn't do most of the things I intended—and I feel pretty bad about myself because of it.

I wasn't present with my kids today.
I didn't meet that deadline.
I couldn't muster the energy to cook dinner.
The house is a mess. I am a mess. The world is a mess.

It's okay, I tell myself. Let me just try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the list of things I didn't get to or didn't do well bears down on my shoulders and my heart, and all I can think is, "I am failing."

And I think that maybe I'm not alone.

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