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Parenting During the Pandemic

Breakfast for dinner.

Parenting is a tough job. Parenting has become increasingly challenging in unprecedented ways during the pandemic. Even in the best of circumstances where health, jobs, and shelter are in place, the world feels a bit upside down.

Adobe Stock / Pixel Shot
The ambiguity, the uncertainty, and the unknown future can bog parents down.
Source: Adobe Stock / Pixel Shot

We typically rely on the wisdom of those who have parented before us to help navigate the parenting dilemmas of today. But in 2020, we are facing new conundrums and need to make pioneering parenting choices. Endless questions persist: How do I talk about COVID with my children? What educates them? What is too much and scares them? What kind of education is best for my children—hybrid, virtual, in-person, homeschooling? Do I sign my child up for sports this fall? Do we risk seeing grandparents? The decisions seem to be endless.

While there are no easy answers, the importance of fun and play in the home can be a saving grace for parent and child alike!

Adobe Stock /jpleskachevskaia
The importance of fun and play, even during a pandemic, is important for healthy development.
Source: Adobe Stock /jpleskachevskaia

When I was a very young child, one of my favorite memories was the nights my mom surprised me with “breakfast for dinner!” It was evening time, and yet there we were enjoying over-easy eggs (what my family affectionately called “juicy eggs”) and toast. I remember the excitement I felt when doing something we weren’t supposed to. If I was really lucky, we’d have a picnic in the living room too… both blanket and breakfast on the floor. What I didn’t know at the time was that my mom came up with these creative approaches to dinnertime because as a single working mother she didn’t get to the grocery store yet. To this day, I admire my mom for making what was a hardship an adventure for her young daughter.

So during this pandemic, let’s “make breakfast for dinner” for the children in your life. We can create moments of fun and surprise for their eyes, even when it is born out of difficulty and lack of access to our usual choices for fun. Here are a few ideas that might add a spark to your child’s quarantined day:

  • Start the morning with silliness, adults; Wear your clothes inside out, on purpose! Put your undies on the outside of your clothes, or do a crazy hair day that will take your kids by surprise.
  • Create a treasure hunt to lead to your child’s favorite snack or even a dessert.
  • Treat your child to a “Very Merry Unbirthday.” Yes, this is a favorite for all of the Alice in Wonderland fans out there. Sing to your child, put up a “Happy Unbirthday” sign, and let them pick their favorite “unbirthday” treat.

Have more than one kiddo? Pick names out of a hat to see whose “unbirthday” it is that day. Remove that name for the next time you celebrate an “unbirthday” so everyone gets a turn. For extra silliness, put parents’ names in too.

By adding in these surprises and other creative twists, you help make these atypical days of living through a pandemic a little more fun.

Adobe Stock / Pro-stock studio
Add surprises & creative twists to add fun to the day. Keep it simple. Silliness goes a long way with children!
Source: Adobe Stock / Pro-stock studio

Watch the smiles and laughter blossom from your child’s face. Their happiness is contagious and will bring joy to your day too!

Interested in other resources for parenting during the pandemic? Check out the American Psychological Association’s free presentations on “Parenting in the Age of COVID-19.”

This blog post has been adapted from Dr. del Prado's article in Danville Living Magazine, with permission from the Danville Living's Content Coordinator.


Turner, E. (2020) Parenting in the Age of COVID-19. American Psychological Association.

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