Dear Parents, Please Leave Your Babies at Home
I get it. You’re going absolutely stir crazy with the kids and you feel like you just HAVE to get them (and yourself) out of the house. But the playgrounds are closed. The library is closed. They can’t go to play with friends. They’re climbing all over you, making a mess of the house, eating all the food, crying, complaining, and definitely not instigating each other by pointing a finger and "not" touching each other - your angels would never do that. A family trip to the grocery store sounds heavenly right now, doesn’t it? I feel you.
My son has not left our home in eight weeks. And yes, I’ve been counting. I mentally check off each day off in my head as I wonder when my little boy will be able to be out in the world again. My son is five and he doesn’t understand why we can’t just go to the playground or swing by our favorite neighbor’s house for a visit and some cookies. And he really doesn’t understand why he’s not allowed to visit his favorite store (which is Dollar General, I kid you not).
It would be so nice, so easy, to pop my boy in the car and hit up Target and aimlessly wander the aisles for an hour or so, forgetting about life for a while, but my husband and I have chosen not to take our son out of the house.
Why? Because the CDC says that even though we’re months into this pandemic, there is still so little known about how the Coronavirus affects children and what if any, lasting effects it has on their little bodies.
I understand not running to the store without the kids isn’t feasible for everyone. My mom was a single mom to four kids for many years and where she went, we went too, until I was old enough to stay home and watch my siblings.
So many parents don’t have an extra set of hands. So many parents are more frazzled than many can begin to understand. So many parents feel like they’re going to break down at any given minute. So many parents are tired of hearing different versions of government-issued warnings be issued and then retracted and then issued again and they're just totally ready to toss up their hands and just go on a family outing to the store.
If you can’t leave your little ones at home, remember that it might be scary for them to see people in masks and gloves when they’re not used to. Try to think of how to explain the situation before you head out. Also, keep in mind that you’re going to need to get your octopus arms on because kids are amazing at licking and touching surfaces faster than their parents can stop them.
Lauren Sauer, director of operations for Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response told USA Today, “If you don’t have the ability to [keep your kids at home], try to explain to kids why they can’t be near other people and why they have to stay close to you.”
I don’t want to say “when this is over” or “when things get back to normal” because I don’t know that they will for (maybe) years. But I want you to know that I see you. I feel you. I understand. And, I’m asking you as a fellow parent to leave the kids home if you’re able. If you’ve got a neighbor or friend or someone from your church who can help you with your errands, please lean on them. Asking is not a weakness. If you’ve got a partner who can watch the kids while you visit the store, please ask them to.
Please, if you can, leave your babies at home. And, if you can’t, just know that you’re not a horrible person. You're a parent doing the best that you can and promise me you'll let the side-eye glances roll off your back, okay?