This is an unprecedented and stressful time when many of us are being forced to juggle child care, work, and maintaining our households. I, along with the NYT Parenting team, have been speaking to pediatricians, infectious disease experts, child psychologists and more over the last several weeks to gather advice on how parents can handle these evolving challenges.

You can read New York Times coverage of the coronavirus for free by registering with your email. Read our coverage specifically about parenting through coronavirus here, and you can find NYT’s broader coverage at

I’m here to answer all your questions, and while I'm not a medical professional, I can point you to our relevant coverage about kids and coronavirus. If you take away anything from this, it’s to follow all local, state and federal health guidelines, and to be patient with yourself. One parent we spoke to summed this moment up perfectly when she said, “I feel like I have five jobs.” No one has a manual for how to parent through this.

While you’re here, follow NYT Parenting on Instagram and Twitter, where we’re having conversations like this all the time, but also trying to laugh a little, too. You can also follow me at @jessgrosewrites on Instagram, and @jessgrose on Twitter.


EDIT, 1:05pm: Thank you for all of your questions! I'm signing off for now, but will try to check in later to answer more. Thanks again.

Comments: 91 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

igabeup30 karma

as someone who is childless but has a lot of friends and family with kids, what are the best ways i can support them during this difficult time?

thenewyorktimes35 karma

Lovely question! You can offer to FaceTime or Zoom with their kids -- it's not a substitute for in-person babysitting, but it can keep the kids occupied for a bit. You can also send delivery so they don't have to cook meals. Finally, if you live someplace different than they do, you can ask if there are any items their local stores are out of. I did a story this weekend on how there are formula, wipe and diaper shortages across the country, but some areas are better stocked than others, so you can offer to send supplies along.

SleepDreamer1623 karma

There are so many online resources. What activities can the kids do independently that do not require internet/screen time?

Lego, puzzles, and books don’t burn enough hours for me to productively work.

thenewyorktimes26 karma

We've been trying to get the kids to do things that have many step processes. For example: collect rocks and acorns outside, paint them. Build an obstacle course and then do the obstacle course. My older daughter has been working on chess, and easy card games help too. But to be honest: we're definitely doing more screens than usual.

Onepopcornman22 karma

Maybe Non-Covid-19 question:

So you cover parenting editorially and also are a parent. I'm curious about the interaction of your journalistic side and your own experiences.

What advice and guidance do you find hard to implement that comes commonly recommended from the experts you cover?

Have you every had any advice that you have been skeptical of based on your personal experience as a parent?

thenewyorktimes29 karma

Like most parents out there, I want the best for my kids and really do try to take expert advice as much as I can. However, I think being a parent gives me perspective about some of the recommendations that are not realistic for many families, including my own.

A classic example here is when the AAP recommended that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for a full year, ideally. I never got more than 2 months of maternity leave, so the idea that my child would be sleeping in my room for a full year was just never going to be realistic for my family — we are the real, not the ideal. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician, and the Times Claire Cain Miller, wrote a great piece about why that year recommendation required a lot of trade-offs that just weren't being considered.

mcswizzle18 karma

My daughter is 3 years old and currently fights naptime (when she doesn't manage to nap she usually turns into a monster around dinner time, 6p). She also doesn't sleep well at night, waking up almost every night around 1am and either keeping one or both of us up all night trying to get her back to sleep in her own bed, or relenting and having her sleep in our bed (both of which result in neither parent sleeping well).

My question is this: What can we do to exercise her and keep her both mentally and physically active to encourage sleep? We walked several miles yesterday with our dogs and she happily laid down for a nap (instead of fighting and throwing a fit not wanting to nap), but still did not stay asleep in her own bed last night.

It makes for hard days working from home when she has so much pent up energy, and doubly so when no one slept well the night before.

thenewyorktimes21 karma

Oh man, I feel for you! My 3-year-old ended up in our bed on Thursday and I was a complete mess Friday. Re: exercise -- it sounds like you're doing a great job with the hikes. Scootering also keeps our 3-year-old happy. On rainy days, we have been doing Cosmic Yoga, and dance parties, and honest to god yesterday we did burpees. We are considering buying an indoor mini-trampoline, there are lots of inexpensive options. If parents can switch off caretaking during the day, that's a big help. In terms of keeping mentally active, giving your kid choice time and switching activities every 30 minutes the way they do in many preschools has been great for our kid. So her morning "activity" can be Magnatiles or Legos one day, and the afternoon can be painting rocks and acorns. It doesn't need to be fancy or elaborate.

Re: naps and nighttime sleep, we have a few guides on those topics from the head of Yale's Pediatric Sleep Center, Craig Canapari. You can read his advice on nap refusers here. Good luck out there.

dandannoodlebowl15 karma

How are you staying sane, as a parent?

thenewyorktimes19 karma

It's rough, I'm not going to lie. But running outside and doing dance cardio inside when I are helping me relieve stress. If you're lucky enough to have a healthy partner, switching off kid-duty helps. We have also relaxed our screen time rules pretty considerably. Communication with my partner has been key -- we're open with each other about having to tap out for a little bit. If you are a single parent or have a sick partner or partner working outside the home -- give yourself a lot of grace. Take breaks when possible (if that means putting your kid on an iPad for a bit, so be it). Remember your sanity matters right now.

Norgeroff9 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

thenewyorktimes8 karma

Green and yellow!

riccobd9 karma

What are your tips for parents to be? It's a very strange time to be expecting!

thenewyorktimes12 karma

It truly is, my heart goes out to you! I would say, first, do whatever you can to relax -- whether that's deep breathing, prenatal yoga streaming videos, baths, etc. Ask your medical caretakers any questions you have that come up -- things are changing and rules are shifting across the country, so don't be shy about your needs. Angela Garbes wrote an excellent article for us last year about advocating for yourself during pregnancy and birth. My personal advice is watch a lot of garbage TV -- when i was pregnant with my first kid during non-pandemic Times, I rewatched the Hills :)

jlusk3339 karma

My husband and I are both working from home, but due to the nature of his job, my husband isn't able to switch off with me in child care (our daughter is turning 1 in just a few weeks). I think we'll be okay until after lunchtime, but what are some good activities to occupy a 1-year-old while I am in a virtual meeting or trying to write emails in the afternoon??

thenewyorktimes10 karma

It's a tough age to keep occupied, so you're doing great no matter what. The most old fashioned stuff generally works great here: my kids could play with a set of plastic mixing bowls for a solid 20 minutes. Climbing in and out of a cardboard box also occupies a little bit of time. Regular blocks, plastic keys, magnatiles -- the usual. An audio book of a favorite story can also be helpful. But, I'd try to keep your most concentrated work for nap time if you can swing it. I have switched to working a few hours between 6-8 a.m. and 8 and 10 p.m. in order to answer emails before/after my kids are awake.

harugane7 karma

Does your family have a safe word when they are feeling frustrated? And if so, what is that word?

thenewyorktimes9 karma

We don't have a specific safe word, but whenever my husband and I need some space, we just say, "I need a minute upstairs" or "I need a time out." Grown ups need time outs, too.

natalialialia7 karma

Hey Jessica! I follow you on Twitter, always love the NYT Parenting articles and your insights. My son is 1.5 and we are self-isolating at home. He is very close to his grandparents (my parents) who live nearby but we haven't seen them in 3 weeks. I know I'm asking the impossible question, but when/how can he see them again? FaceTime doesn't feel like quality time between them. He's a very active, tactile guy (ps I'm going insane). Is he going to be 2 years old the next time he sees his grandparents? He's going to be a completely different person. Do you have any advice, solutions, hope? Thanks!

thenewyorktimes9 karma

Hi! The short answer is, I don't know when your son is going to be able to see his grandparents again in person, and I'm so sorry about that. Here's our article by Melinda Wenner Moyer laying out the grandparent issue. We're in the same boat here, too -- my kids saw my parents every week and now haven't seen them for a month. Here's what we have done: my mother-in-law reads a bedtime story to my kids over FaceTime every night, they love that. My dad plays virtual chess + FaceTimes my older daughter at the same time. So if you can find specific activities they can do side by side -- almost doing parallel play -- that would be amazing. They can draw at the same time, or dance at the same time, in their own space. I loved this video from MommyShorts where a grandfather and his granddaughter had dance competitions across the street from each other. I know it's not the same as a hug from grandma or grandpa, but we can all make the best of it.

shrekstiny6 karma

My house is very small and I find it hard to focus with my family around do you have any tips? Usually I go out to an office or a quiet place but it seems that's not an option these days

For reference I have a 3 year old daughter and a wife

thenewyorktimes7 karma

I'm in the same boat. I work in a bedroom with the door closed but I still hear my 7 and 3 year olds yelling all day. If you have noise cancelling headphones, use them. Also I found that downloading a white noise app on my phone helps drown them out. Putting on a fan serves the same purpose. I also take my phone calls walking around outside whenever possible.

Togapr335 karma

Have you seen video games/YouTube become helpful tools for parents to stay sane during this time?

thenewyorktimes8 karma

I have heard from a lot of folks about anxiety-relieving techniques. One thing that's helped me (and I'm writing about it this week for kids) is progressive muscle relaxation -- where you tighten groups of muscles then relax them. There are a lot of YouTube videos that provide guided muscle relaxation, so those can be nice to use. Also a lot of YouTube workouts.

solemove4 karma

Maybe a little off-topic, but do you have any advice on becoming a better writer and improving my grammatical skills?

thenewyorktimes4 karma

Becoming a better writer: write as much as possible! Grammatical skills: edit, edit, edit. Go back and re-read what you've written, and any time you're unsure, look up the rules. I still look up affect vs. effect at least once a year.