Celebrating kids’ birthdays under quarantine

When our daughter started planning a huge slumber party to celebrate her eighth birthday, we never imagined it would have to be postponed indefinitely because no one could leave their homes or go to school — let alone squish into a single room together.

She cried at first, already devastated by how much she missed her teachers and friends. She cried again when she realized we also couldn’t have our usual 20-person family party with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

I reassured her we’d have both parties when we could — bigger and better than ever — but in the meantime, we’d still make sure she had a special “quarantine birthday.”

And you know what? It turned out even better than I’d hoped.

If you have a child (or, heck, a grown-up) who will be celebrating their birthday during the restrictions, here are a few tips that helped us throw our daughter a truly memorable birthday …

Continue reading in my parenting column, The Mom Scene …

A neighbour called the police on my kids yesterday

It’s lunchtime as I type this. It was supposed to be rainy/snowy today, but the sun is shining. The kids did their schoolwork this morning, and they’re going to go outside to play as soon as they’re done eating.

It terrifies me.

Yesterday, a neighbour in our sweet small town called the police on my kids.

It was just another day in this shitty new pandemic life we’re all living. The kids did their schoolwork in the morning. They ate lunch, and then they went outside to play, as they do just about every afternoon now.

We live on a street with (mostly) very small, shared yards. Our backyard playground is mere feet away from our neighbour’s backyard playground because, as I said, these yards are SMALL AND SHARED.

When our kids are playing outside, the kids next-door are often playing outside, too. It’s the only kids they see, so sure, they talk and joke and attempt to “play” together — all from a distance.

Sometimes they play Charades — no need to be close for that — and last week or the week before (it’s all a blur), I showed them how to run an obstacle course and time each other. No problems there. One person at a time on the obstacle course, and everyone else cheered from a distance.

They’re kids, all between the ages of seven and nine. They’re not perfect, and sometimes they veer closer than six feet. One of them will remember and yell “Social distance!” and they back up, or we remind them from the windows.

The phone rang yesterday afternoon. It was our local police department, calling to tell me that a neighbour “who wished to remain anonymous” had reported that we had a “crowd of kids” running around together, even running in and out of each other’s houses.

I almost dropped the phone, I was so shocked.

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A day in the life of pandemic parenting

The other morning, I spent an hour on a video conference with people I’d never seen “in person” before. It was very successful, and I felt like an awesome businesswoman.

Then I hurried upstairs to check on the kids and discovered our son hadn’t heard his reminder alarm and, as a result, had missed most of his class Google Meet. I flipped my lid and felt like a terrible mother.

Yes, it’s an optional call, but I still felt awful. He’s missing out on so much right now, and knowing he’d missed out on one of the only things available to him filled me with anger, frustration and sadness.

I frantically pulled out my phone and started setting even more reminders, determined it won’t happen again even if I am on a work call. Now every day at 9:20 a.m., our house positively booms with voices coming out of every Alexa device.

It’s an overreaction, for sure, but these days I’m not sure I’m capable of reacting normally to anything.

Continue reading in my parenting column, The Mom Scene, and please continue to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPERS during this difficult time! Unlimited digital access to the SaltWire Network is just $1 right now.