Self-isolation, chains of transmission, "flattening the curve," social distancing. If you had told me even a few weeks ago that terms like these were going to become part of the common vernacular, I would have told you you were watching too many Netflix documentaries.
But here we are.
It's been less than a month. The world has gone completely bananas and suddenly I have become an at-home epidemiologist.
"Parenting in the Time of a Global Pandemic" was (shockingly) not a topic covered in any of the pamphlets they gave me when I brought my babies home. So to say I've been a tad stressed would be putting it mildly.
The atmosphere in our home is both intensely urgent and weirdly normal, leaving me to feel like I'm constantly either over or under-reacting.
On the best of days, I walk a razor-thin line between keeping it together and descending into panicked chaos.
Add in the pressures of working from home, keeping the kids entertained, washing my hands every 20 minutes, washing the kids' hands every 20 mins, and keeping up with the news…
Quite frankly, I feel like I've never related to this guy more:
But today, somewhere between making lunch for my kids and researching whether or nor my dog can get COVID-19 (he has a suspicious cough), a comforting thought occurred to me.
Despite all of the uncertainty and shenanigans in the world right now, there is one thing about this situation that us parents are already VERY prepared for.
That thing, my friends, is social distancing.
Also being referred to as physical distancing, it's the idea that, as much as possible, we should all be staying away from one another and staying home. (Here's a great article on why this is such a big deal right now)
And whether you realize it or not, your entire parenting career has been preparing you for this moment.
Here are five reasons that parents have the social distancing advantage over our childless peers:
1) Carting Kids Around Sucks
Anyone who has ever wrestled a small child into a car seat knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Children, while adorable, make almost everything about leaving the house more challenging.
Getting them ready. Getting all their stuff ready. Getting them ready again when they take their shoes off or poop.
And that is on a perfect day.
When the weather is exactly right.
And the stars, planets, and galaxies are perfectly aligned.
Heaven forbid it's raining. Or sunny. Or too cold. Or too hot.
Because that means trying to jam even more gear into the back of my SUV. You know, the one already loaded down with all of the "standard" leaving the house things we need.
Not to mention what can happen when you leave the house and vary your child's routine in the slightest.
As it stands, parents already have plenty of incentive to avoid unnecessary trips into the outside world.
In the era of social distancing, not only is staying home more convenient, it's our civic duty.
2) We Are Masters of Logistics
Owing to all of the shenanigans associated with leaving the house with our kids, when we do need to go out parents are well-prepared ninjas.
We do not enter a grocery store without a game plan.
We have a list, a pre-planned route and an exit strategy (for when someone pukes, or poops, or has a meltdown because we brought the wrong water bottle).
That kind of efficiency is now a necessity when heading out for essentials.
And since social distancing dictates that we leave our kids at home, parents everywhere are now breaking land speed records when heading out for supplies.
So if you're childless friends are worried about going out, be a friend and share some of your expertise.
3) We've Been Rocking "Social Distancing Chic" Since Before It was Cool
I've seen a few versions of this meme floating around lately:
While parents don't mind getting cleaned up now and then, most of us are acutely aware of the advantages of comfort and function over aesthetics.
With each day that passes, more of my staple "mom clothes" become accepted by those who have not already embraced them.
Therefore our social distancing wardrobes are already on point.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been advocating for leggings and a messy bun as "business casual" for as long as I can remember.
4) No FOMO
One of the hardest things about social distancing for our childless peers is their fear of missing out (or FOMO, as the kids say).
Staying home is a big lifestyle change for some people. It makes the days seem long and it can make for a much more isolated existence than some are used to.
And I'm not saying that social distancing has been entirely easy for all parents…
Or that we don't miss our normal routine or outings…
But for most parents, it has been a long time since our time has been our own.
We don't often get to leave the house on a whim. Having a night out can seem a little like this:
Instead, our lives revolve around the needs and schedules of the tiny overlords we created for ourselves.
So passing up and missing out on social events is probably less of a big deal to most of us.
5) We Are Used to Germs (And Trying to Avoid Them)
I love my kids more than life itself, but I am fully aware that they are disgusting little vectors of disease on a good day.
They lick everything.
And they have zero sense of personal space.
Before I made the decision to procreate, I actually thought I had a good immune system. Turns out I was just really good at avoiding people who sneeze directly in my eyeballs while telling me what their third favourite reptile is.
Children are walking Petri dishes. They seek out germs that wouldn't normally get anyone sick. Then they lovingly incubate them until they reach critical mass and spread to everyone around them.
So when parents hear that there is a bug going around daycare or some Hand, Foot, and Mouth at playgroup, we batten down the hatches.
We know the hotspots.
We understand how outbreaks occur.
We have seen the chains of transmission and know all too well how one germy little Jenny can take down an entire playdate.
I mean, a Global Pandemic is obviously not the same as dodging a gastro bug that is bouncing around Baby and Me Yoga but our children's propensity for pestilence gives us an extra sense of awareness when it comes to the spread of sickness.
I think it's safe to say that none of us are feeling too prepared for the state of the world these days.
Parenting is nervewracking on the best of days, so throwing the plague into the mix isn't exactly ideal.
Luckily, whether you realized it or not, parenting has actually been preparing you for a world of chaos and uncertainty.
And when it feels tough, remember that we are all on this ride together and figuring it out as we go along.
Socially distanced high fives,
The Lil Helper Team