Valley Moms Talk Parenting in the Time of the Coronavirus

Parenthood in the time of the coronavirus is not for the faint of heart.
Whether you’re working the frontlines or holding up the homefront, it’s demanding, emotional and downright exhausting.

We’re trying our best to keep little ones entertained and educated, our teens out of mischief, germs at bay, toilet paper stocked, and fridges filled with whatever hodgepodge of ingredients we can manage to get our raw, overly sanitized hands on. Roots are piercing through, beards are bigger than ever, and so are our waistlines. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some of us are getting inventive in the kitchen, dusting off old board games, and reading more. Others are finding new ways to connect with loved ones, get organized, and explore new hobbies.

In this special series, ValleyMom.ca talks to various moms across ‘the Valley’ to see how they’re holding up during these uncertain times. First up, is Amber Breen-Wood of Langley, B.C.

Parenting in the Time of the Coronavirus

Langley Family Gets Creative in Quarantine

Life has changed pretty drastically for Amber Breen-Wood – a mother of two from Langley B.C., who pre-COVID-19, worked full time as a talent agent.

On March 13, she watched the film industry die in a matter of hours, and all the blood, sweat and tears put into her livelihood, dissolve in minutes.
“All day, I was letting performers know that they would no longer be working, and at the same time, putting myself out of work and a paycheque,” she said.
“It was devastating to us all as it was for so many who have lost work.”

Amber’s husband, Dave, is considered ‘essential,’ so he is still working full time as a program coordinator for an alternative-to-custody treatment centre for teenage boys.
With their daughters, Jordan, 10, and Baylee, 8, out of school for the foreseeable future, the entire Langley clan has had to adapt to a new routine that includes new rules and a lax schedule.

“We’ve created a bit of a rhythm during the week so they can still do some learning. But obviously, they don’t see their friends, except for a few over Kids’ Messenger,” said Amber.
“They no longer have their dance classes at Lisa’s School of Dance, which was a huge part of their lives, and the worst is not being able to see their grandma, and for me, my mom.”
For Amber, the biggest obstacle has been trying to manage her anxiety, while at the same time, trying to shelter her kids from it.

“Watching the anxiety manifest in the kids has been hard. They are resilient and are adjusting, but my oldest isn’t sleeping great because of everything, and there is definitely a lot of extra sensitivity.’’

Amber Breen-Wood

Fortunately for the Breen-Woods’ there has been an upside to all the new changes that go hand-in-hand with strict social distance measures. One may even say they’re thriving in this new slower pace.

“The kids actually seem to like it (homeschooling)… they love getting it done and over with in the morning rather than being a “six-hour day,” said Amber, who likes to mix up traditional schoolwork with creative time.
“We also do “fun” stuff. It might be painting, or last week I assigned a teamwork assignment where both had to come up with something to bake together. They only got one “lifeline” to ask for help (aside from working the oven). The rest of the time is honestly a free for all.”

More time on their hands means more time for quality family time, including a regular family games night.

Parenting in the Time of the Coronavirus

“Our favourites so far are Rukus (thanks to The Raving Gamer for getting us started on that one last fall), and Dogopoly,” said Amber.
It’s a full townhouse for the family who bunk with a bunny, dog, and only a small patch of grass for a backyard. Cramped living quarters call for creative measures.

Parenting in the Time of the Coronavirus
Parenting in the Time of the Coronavirus

“We are very lucky to be on the end unit with some green space beside us that no one uses, so we play bocce and a bit of badminton,” said Amber. “We also go on lots of walks and have taken up bike riding as a family. We recently discovered some new-to-us trails around here that in our 10 years of living here never realized existed!”

Even on those gloomy rainy days that tend to stretch for hours on end, Amber has found a way for her family to be entertained and have fun within the confines of their car.

“We will just go for drives sometimes too. A game that I’ve played on and off for years with them is, “Let’s get lost.”Every time we hit a light, we take turns picking a direction to go. We’ve found random lakes, houses for sale that we love, and our favourite is the various farm animals.”
Almost everyone seems to be baking bread in quarantine – the Breens are no exception.

Parenting in the Time of the Coronavirus

“I’m definitely feeling the quarantine 15 packing on!” joked Amber.
“I am trying to keep dinners different and interesting, so we at least don’t get bored with our food. I’ve attempted baking bread for the first time, and having been a photographer, I’ve started having fun with a little bit of food photography.”

Amber also prioritizes looking after herself to stay sane and effectively manage her household. Something as simple as a box of hair dye can work wonders, she says.
“I read, sit on my patio and enjoy some coffee in silence when I can. And I couldn’t take the grey roots, so on one of my grocery trips I picked up a box of dye — it is amazing how much better one can feel with a fresh colour!”
Who knows? Life may resume back to normal(ish) by the time summer rolls around. And when that time comes, the Breens know exactly what they’re going to do first.

“We have a family list going,” said Amber. “Jordan wants to have a family games’ night with our friends (together in the same room), Baylee wants to go to Playland, I want to have an evening with my mom, and Dave just wants to have a normal life.”

I hope you enjoyed the first interview in this new special series! Next, we talk to a single mom from Langley to find out how she’s coping in total isolation, how shared custody is working for her family and much more. Make sure to sign up for our E-newsletter and like us on Facebook so that you don’t miss it.

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