Parenting during a pandemic

I’m crouched in a makeshift shelter assembled from scraps, cheerfully reading a story to my kids so they don’t realize there’s a war zone outside.

I’m clawing my way out of a volcano with both kids strapped to my back, calmly pointing out the pretty orange colour of the coals.

I’m hustling them towards lifeboats but making it into a silly, lighthearted race to see who’s the fastest runner.

I have always been a parent who’s really honest with their kids. I taught them about puberty and sex and LGBTQ+ issues early — too early, maybe. I’ve never been great about upholding Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/tooth fairy lore. There’s nothing I haven’t been able to discuss with them, but suddenly I’m lying through my teeth every single day.

At almost-eight and almost-10, my kids are old enough that they’ll remember living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it going to scar them for life?

I have one child prone to bouts of terrible anxiety and another who lives for socialization and is crushed, daily, that she can’t be with her friends and teachers.

I need to be strong for them.

And so, every day is an acting exercise …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column over on SaltWire.com …

DIY school picture timeline

Please note: This is the last Handmade Home column for a little while. I hope to be back at it as soon as possible.

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Without fail, we buy a package of our kids’ school photos every single year. Some years, the photos are really nice. Other years, the kids have an awkward smile or a wary gaze. It doesn’t matter to me — I’m ordering them anyway.

I love that we can easily adjust the timeline or swap out frames anytime we want. The S-hooks make it easy to lift the frames off and reposition them.

I dutifully give copies to the grandparents, but the problem was that I didn’t actually display any of the 8x10s I’d ordered for myself. I just couldn’t decide how or where.

Would I only keep the current year’s photo on display? Would I hang them all somewhere? A gallery wall of school photos wouldn’t be practical, since I’d have to update it every single year.

So I did nothing with my copies of the school pictures, except keep buying them and carefully storing them away.

Recently, I had an idea. What if I hung the school pictures in a way that I could show them all — in order — while also being able to add new ones?

Continue reading in my DIY column, My Handmade Home.

Thought work is going to be the key to getting through this

If you’ve never heard of “thought work,” don’t worry.

I hadn’t heard it myself until probably six months ago, when I really dug deep into working on myself.

Yesterday I listened to a special bonus episode of one of my favourite postcasts, Unf*ck Your Brain, by Kara Loewentheil. It was a virus dedicated to virus panic so I knew I NEEDED to listen to it.

Oh boy, not only did I listen, but I took notes the entire time (which I texted to my sister in 30-second intervals for a full hour) but I also just went to her website and pored over the show’s transcript.

SO MUCH GOOD INFORMATION IN THERE!

Basically, “thought work” is focusing on managing your thoughts. How we THINK controls how we FEEL, and how we FEEL controls how we ACT.

While I highly encourage you to listen to the full episode — and subscribe to the Unf*ck Your Brain podcast because there are SO MANY back episodes to catch up on — I’m going to summarize my main takeaways here. (Mostly so I can come back and re-read this post when I’m spiraling, but also for you guys, too.)

Ready? Let’s go …

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