TSD iMom columnist Brittany Holst gets in some mother-daughter time, reading “Little Poems for Tiny Ears” by Lin Oliver – one of daughter Niah’s favorite books – during lunch while working remotely from home. (Photo: Shirley Jackson)

by Brittany Holst — Since the coronavirus hit a couple of months ago, the entire world has been on edge out of fear of what’s to come and trying to protect themselves.

More soberingly, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris have issued “stay at home” mandates for residents unless they are engaged in certain essential activities or essential travel. The mayors’ orders also include the closings of “nonessential” businesses.

On a regular workday, my mother-in-law would care for my 18-month-old daughter, Niah, while I’m at work. Now that I am working remotely at home, my mother-in-law continues to care for her so that I can devote my time to accomplishing my work goals.

However, I can now spend my lunch time with Niah. I enjoy reading to her during this time. She has a collection of books that are her favorites and she will choose one she wants to read.

I reached out to other mothers with toddlers and young children to find out how they are coping with the changes caused by the coronavirus.

At this point, we are trying to make the best of a devastating situation. With schools closed (indefinitely for Shelby County Schools and until at least April 24 for other school districts), families are having to be creative with continuing educational activities for their child(ren).

Erika Davis, mother of 4-year-old Kylan, said she is trying to figure out what works. She has “invested in Hooked on Phonics, ABCmouse, along with learning materials from Walgreens, Dollar General and printed material found online.”

She also is working with his teachers for educational ideas. Learning does not stop simply because school closes.

Larissa Thompson, mother of 2-year-old Shelby, said “stay at home” makes her “appreciate her daycare facility more.”

She plans to use this time to potty train her daughter. She will continue working with her to learn the alphabet and numbers. Thompson also wants to introduce Shelby to more Spanish words. She already knows how to count to 10 in Spanish, so this is a great opportunity for her to hone those skills.

Thompson said “as a working mom, it has been interesting being off work and just simply enjoying family time,” adding she “never imagined corona would hit the community like this, but if I must find some light at the end of this dark tunnel, time spent with my husband and daughter makes it all worthwhile.”

Regardless of how your time is spent during this difficult period, I would like to remind each of you to practice safe habits:

Stay at home. Be sure to wash your hands often. Keep your hands off of the facial T-zone (eyes, nose and mouth). Sanitize areas you and your loved ones come in contact with. And, for those with children, be creative and keep the learning experience going.

This is a great time for bonding and self-care practicing. We will get through this and come out better on top.

(Brittany Jackson was part of the first corps of iTeen reporters for The New Tri-State Defender. Now as Brittany Holst, her iMom column is a periodic look at motherhood through millennial eyes.)