Are We Raising the “Next Greatest Generation” With Our Quarantine Kids?

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We’ve all heard stories about generations – past relatives walking uphill both ways in the snow, burying silver in the backyard for safekeeping and amusing themselves for hours by skipping rocks or skipping rope. 

Well, now we – along with our kids – have some stories of our own. And while our hearts may feel heavy or burdened or anxious for the health and financial security of ourselves and our loved ones, we have found our big girl pants in our “quarantine casual” drawer and we are putting them on every single day.

Here are just a few of the things I hope stick around after COVID-19 is slammed into the history books where it belongs:

1. Resourcefulness

Yes, there is plenty of whining and complaining about being bored around our house, but if left to their own devices long enough (and yes, it’s been quite long enough) kids will show they are able to think outside the box and make do with what they have.

From creating artwork with plain paper and crayons rather than shopping for sparkles and stickers to repurposing scraps of string and old buttons and beads to make jewelry rather than begging for the super craft kit, they are using their resources and saving me some money. And the same goes for grownups. Anyone else Googled “meals to make with rice”?

2. Simplicity

Who knew that kids would find just as much joy in making signs for and  “attending” a drive-by-and-honk birthday party as they do a full-on production? Can this tradition continue, please?

Also, I can’t remember the last time pre-corona that I noticed things like birds, flowers, clouds or bugs. My kids and I spent an hour talking about the little red bugs that appear in the South for a few weeks every April. I’ve seen them all my life but never took the time to learn about them. Well, they are called Clover Mites, their populations are entirely female, they do not bite humans or animals and live for only two weeks. Just add “entomology professor” to my growing job description.

3. Bonding + Memory-Making

If you have more than one child in your home, they have probably been fighting more than usual. Gracious, the fighting! But they’ve also been bonding more than usual. Siblings who have spent time together in quarantine will come to know and love each other and are building memories to last a lifetime. No doubt they will grow up with stories that start with “Remember that time during the Coronavirus when we…”

Same goes for parent-child and spousal relationships. You will probably also come to realize that you have a “Coronavirus outfit” or a “Coronavirus meal” or even a “Coronavirus shampoo” that, whenever you wear, eat it or smell it will forever remind you of this time, and hopefully more positive memories than negative ones. 

4. Optimism

I found a packed suitcase on the floor of my nine-year-old’s room the other day. I was afraid she was planning to run away (well, not too afraid, because all the signs say “go home, stay home”) but she said she was just getting ready for our beach trip. In three months. Hey, I might just throw some swimsuits in a bag, too. 

5. Compassion 

During a time of global struggle, the innate compassion of children is allowed to take center stage. They are learning at an early age than an antidote to chaos and uncertainty is pitching in along with the rest of the family by donating, making cards, helping neighbors, supporting local business and finding creative ways to care. 

6. Adaptability

For once, parents don’t have all the answers – or all the control. When are we going back to school? Will we still be able to take our beach vacation this summer? What is “y” in the equation y=mx+b? We just don’t know, and quite frankly, we don’t know when or how the answers will be coming. All of this uncertainty has allowed us to relinquish more, pray more and give ourselves the grace to be without answers every now and then. 

In the grand scheme of things, these weeks and months will pass and we will soon be back to the courts, fields, parties, vacations, offices and classrooms. But adults and kids will return forever changed. Who knows? Perhaps this time will somehow inspire our kids on becoming the next great scientists, doctors, reporters, leaders, designers, artists, teachers, pastors, entomologists and beyond. Perhaps they are indeed the “next greatest generation.” 

And maybe in raising the “next greatest generation” we will give our children’s children something to talk about besides our weird obsession with toilet paper.

What lessons are you taking with you once things get back to normal?

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Kelly Barbrey is an early riser, old soul and retail therapy expert. She is a wife to Jonathan and a mom to two strong-willed daughters, born in 2007 and 2010. Kelly grew up in Atlanta, GA and earned a degree in magazine journalism from The University of Georgia. She has worked full time in tourism marketing for Experience Columbia SC since 2004, where she loves to share all the exciting things happening in Columbia, SC with potential travelers. When she’s not working or wrangling kids, she enjoys date nights with her husband at local restaurants, exercise, reading and sharing real and humorous accounts of life, motherhood and nostalgia on her blog, Up Early + Often.

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