Parenting 70’s Style in the Time of Coronavirus Lockdown

Momservation: Looks like it’s safe to drink out of the hose again.

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As a chorus of hand-washing happy birthday rings across the land, we are in unprecedented modern times. New lingo is rapidly gaining its spot in the Webster’s Dictionary:

  • Coronavirus pandemic
  • Social distancing
  • Toilet paper hoarders

But more frightening than an animal to human mutating virus spreading across world borders in record time with deadly consequences for our most vulnerable populations is this:

Schools across America have shut down for the rest of the academic year and families have been ordered to shelter in place.

Cue the horrified gasp.

Teachers, stand and accept the tearful, desperate apologies that you have been underappreciated and underpaid for far too long.

Parents of school-age children, lock yourself in the bathroom, sit down, put your head between your knees, and take a deep breath. Slowly count all your rolls of toilet paper to get your panicked breathing back to normal.

Parents of infants and toddlers, resist the snarky, “Welcome to my world” and quit pretending you don’t have a bottle of wine under the sink.

As an empty-nesting mother and former fifth grade teacher who has both raised children post 9/11panic and managed pre-hand sanitizer classrooms of 34 hyperactive kids, I’m here to offer you advice on how to get through these unprecedented times.

But I won’t be drawing on my experience in the trenches of motherhood and teaching.

I am tapping into my childhood, growing up in the 1970’s, when kids roamed free until dinner time and high-tech meant you had a good set of rabbit ears on a color TV.

Yes, you parents freaking out about getting your kid to put down their iPhone and join their teacher’s Zoom session while stressing about how the live streaming keeps going down with everyone straining the wi-fi, meanwhile your dog won’t quit licking his balls in the background of your conference call—it is possible to survive these barbaric times.

I know. Because I was raised when Zoom was a really bad kid’s show on PBS and I survived.

In fact, in those archaic times we actually:

  • had to entertain ourselves by building forts and playing card games and board games
  • get tired by riding bikes and playing neighborhood games of Red Light Green Light, freeze tag and kickball
  • learn by doing flash cards and workbooks and looking things up in an encyclopedia and dictionary
  • had TV limited to the only programming available for a few hours in the morning and afternoon in the form of Mister Rogers, Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo and Bugs Bunny


And we all turned out okay and didn’t resort to hoarding toilet paper in times of stress.

So I’ve created a list of how to parent in the time of coronavirus by going back to the basics and how my parents did it in the 1970’s. I hope it helps.

Parenting 70’s Style in the Time of Coronavirus Lockdown

  1. Structure is overrated. Let your kids be kids. Let them sleep in, make their own food when they’re hungry, entertain themselves when they’re bored, make dumb mistakes so they can learn, get creative to solve a problem, stay up too late as long as they are quiet. Basically, let the day unfold and enjoy this time as a break from the non-stop, over-structured and over-booked extra-curricular activities.
  2. Respect the rules. It’s not that there are no rules. But keep them simple and clear and stick to the consequences for breaking them. Work before play. Don’t ever talk back to an adult. Do something the first time you are asked. Clean up after your mess. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Whatever your consequences are, make sure that your kids would rather eat bacon fat grease and drink pickle juice while begging for mercy before violating your rules.
  3. Social without the media. Talk to each other instead of turning on the TV. Walk into the other room to see what other people are doing instead of picking up your iPhone. Play a game together assuming all you have is a deck or two of cards, board games in the closet, and whatever you can make up using only your imagination. Use your phone for what it was originally intended: call a friend or relative.
  4. Take Care of Your Shit. We all have jobs to do, so do them. Kids, you are students first—that’s your job. So get that work done without complaining. Your parents are not here to entertain you when it’s work time. Let them take care of what they need to do put a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back and money to pay the bills. Do the chores they ask you to do without complaint as a thank you for making your life so easy. You are never too young to be responsible. Parents, make sure they are age-appropriate responsibilities.
  5. You’re all in this together. Help Mom cook. Help Dad do the laundry. Help your brother unload the dishwasher. Help your sister set and clear the table. Help clean the house, help pick up after the dog, help unload the groceries and put them away…help without being asked. It’s not a one-person show around here and you’re the studio audience. When you are part of a family it is expected that everyone carries the load. So get up off your ass and be helpful.

#Parenting70sStyle  #CoronavirusPandemic  #ParentingInTheTimeOfCoronavirus

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