Of all the hardships imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, few are as poignant as the reshaping of relationships between children and the grandparents who love them. Across America, where more than 70 million people are grandparents, efforts to prevent infection in older people, who are most at risk of serious COVID-19 illness, have meant self-imposed exile for many. At the opposite extreme, some grandparents have taken over daily child care duties to help adult children with no choice but to work.
As some countries ease coronavirus restrictions, mental health experts are noticing an emerging phenomenon; anxiety about life after lockdown. Meanwhile people who remain living under the most stringent measures are fearful about what will happen when these rules are lifted.
Grandparents have had enough. They want to see their grandchildren. A life in seemingly endless lockdown and isolation from grandchildren is not how grandparents want to spend their golden years. But adult children don’t want to risk exposing an older, more vulnerable generation to the new coronavirus during a family visit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that eight out of 10 deaths from COVID-19 are in people aged 65 and older.
Being cooped up inside is hard. So in our living rooms, bedrooms and basements, kids are turning to fort-building to create safe havens as the Covid-19 world feels out of their control.
As parents settle in to becoming homeschool teachers overnight, the challenges they’re facing can certainly feel daunting, especially at a time when most are worried about their health and financial well-being.
This is grandparenting amid the COVID-19 crisis. For my wife and me, becoming grandparents meant a hurried drive across middle America — 1,500 miles in two days. It meant being barred from a hospital visit, then maintaining two weeks of self-isolation in a rented house before we’d eventually be allowed to hold our grandchild or hug his parents.
There are lots of reasons why sleep has become more difficult for your children, but three main ones come to mind: schedule changes, lack of physical activity, and higher levels of anxiety. Our schedules are no longer as consistent as they were. Bedtimes and rise times are often a moving target when there’s no school bus coming. And, homeschooling while juggling work and other responsibilities can make it hard to find the time to help your kids get the kind of physical activity that can help them sleep well at night. Finally, your children may be picking up on your own anxiety and may be asking for a bit more help than is typical to get to sleep at night. What can we do about these issues?
Sheltering in place with your family means more opportunities to share meals, play games, and possibly drive each other a little batty. The extra hours of togetherness are also a good opportunity to collect oral histories. Whether you want to dive into family lore or record a snapshot of life in the era of COVID-19, there are several ways to set yourself up for sympathetic listening and enthusiastic sharing on all sides.
Overnight, I had been handed the one thing I so fiercely desired—time—and yet I was miserable. Social media and unrelenting Ikea commercials featuring happy families thriving in isolation suggested that my feelings were abnormal. I was beginning to agree with them. I needed help.