Here’s a little story about the time my friend France and I wrote a children’s book about the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

When I’m not writing about childcare issues, I operate a home daycare.  I opened Little Lighthouse Home Daycare in April 2017 when my son was a year old, and ever since then he’s – mostly – delighted in having his daycare friends around every day.  On a normal day I would have 5 children running around, and we’d go on little adventures in our neighbourhood to local parks and splash pads.  

 

I met France when I first opened my home daycare.  She was the first person to respond to my add, the first client I signed on, and her daughter was the first ‘daycare child’ to walk through my door.  Over the years the kids have grown up together, and our families have become friends.  France and I share ideologies on raising children and a similarly dark sense of humour.  She’s an artist, and with childcare experience we’d often talked about writing a kids book together.  It always seemed like a bit of a pipe dream; both of us wanted to do it, but we just couldn’t find the time to actually sit down and create it.

 

Then, in March 2020, the world collectively went home – and stayed home – in an effort to ‘flatten the curve’.  I made the decision to temporarily close Little Lighthouse Home Daycare.  Initially I thought it would be a week or two, but those weeks stretched into months.  I kept in contact with my daycare clients with emails and video chats with the kids.  

 

It quickly became clear that everyone was struggling with how to explain all this to our children.

 

When France suggested we write a kids book on the subject, I quickly jumped on board.  We wanted something to show our children when they asked about what was going on.  Why couldn’t we climb the play structure or dig in the sand box?  Why can’t we see Grandma?  Why is Wyatt’s birthday party canceled?  Why can’t we see our daycare friends anymore?

 

We opted for a Search and Find format for the book, because from a child’s perspective there is a lot to keep track of when we talk about covid.  First, there’s the concept that a virus exists that makes us sick; it may exist on surfaces, or inside our bodies, and it will make us very sick.  We depicted the virus in a grocery store, a birthday party at the community pool and at the park.  

Side note – this book does not discuss death or go into detail about how the virus makes us sick.  We mention ‘a fever and coughing, much worse than the flu’ but that’s about the extent of it.  We realize that we’re walking a thin line here.  We want children to understand that the covid virus can make you sick, and it’s very important that we all try to avoid getting it; but we don’t want to instill any lingering fears.

 

Our local Public Health authority was very clear about the importance of hand washing, staying home when you’re ill, wearing a mask, and physical distancing in reducing the spread of COVID-19.  Along with all that came messages about good mental health, at a tumultuous time in history.  With that in mind, we wanted to help our kids with their mental health too.  Our children were all pretty disappointed and sad that they couldn’t see their friends or grandparents.  For my son, that was a tangible loss to his routine.  He’s used to seeing his friends every day, and spending Sunday’s at my in-law’s place.  Now all of a sudden all of those rich social interactions were suddenly gone.  

 

I don’t know about your kids, but ours were pretty pissed each time we had to say no to something.  Can we go to the park?  No.  Can we have friends over?  No.  Can we go swimming?  No.  Is there like a birthday party or something fun to do with other people?  No!!  I hope you’re ready for a tantrum, because there’s a big one coming.  A tantrum loaded with disappointment over missing friends, sadness over cancelled plans, fear over getting sick, frustration, boredom and just a general yucky feeling.

 

In “Pandemic Playtime Search and Find “ Our little girl has a tantrum.  A big one.   Her emotions get really big and she explodes.  Sound familiar?  To help her – and many others – feel better, we sit down together, take deep breaths and snuggle for a little while, until we feel calm.  I think it’s important that children see that sometimes the grownups around them feel sad or disappointed; and work through their emotions in a healthy way.

 

After being bombarded with messages about what we couldn’t do – thanks Covid – we started thinking about things we could do safely.  Things like baking banana bread, video calls with loved ones, riding a bike, gardening, reading a book, colouring, phone calls, etc.  As well as what we can do proactively; like hand washing, wearing a mask and physical distancing.

 

It’s important to remember that children should not be made to feel responsible for keeping the family safe or healthy.  This would be an enormous weight to bear for a child.  The purpose of this book is to give children an awareness of COVID-19, safety, and to remind us to take some deep breaths and try to calm down when we feel upset.

 

France and I really hope you enjoy “Pandemic Playtime Search and Find : Making Sense of the COVID-19 Pandemic”.  You can find it on Little Lighthouse Childcare’s Gumroad Page

 

 

  • Carolyn Dupont R.ECE