Moms Explain What It’s Really Like Raising Kids in Quarantine

"I always tell my kids they can’t do better than their best. It’s advice I’m going to have to take right now."
May 6, 2020
Julia Moss

In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked moms how their lives have changed during this pandemic and we asked moms how they’ve navigated their new roles while in quarantine. Here’s what they had to say.

Some of the submissions have been edited for length and clarity. You can read what their kids had to say here.


Julia Moss and her family

I wasn’t prepared for coronavirus motherhood
I was not prepared for this. I love being a mom. I love it so much I had a second child. I’ve even contemplated having a third. But then the coronavirus hit and my love of parenthood changed. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children unconditionally. My 3-year-old and 6-month-old are the lights of my life. But never did I think I would have to be a mom without the support systems I rely on: schools, grandparents, baby-sitters. I love being a mom precisely because I am privileged enough to have those supports. My husband and I juggle our schedules, taking turns doing work and providing childcare starting at 7 a.m. and going until our kids go to sleep (after which we typically keep working). I pray each day for life to return to some semblance of normal, where I’m not trying to be a full-time worker, mother, preschool teacher, playmate, housekeeper, chef and nanny all wrapped into one. But even more importantly, every day I thank God for how blessed I am — that my frustrations are only over a lack of time, not a lack of a ventilator. And I pray that all of us can one day soon feel the safety and love that I try to create for my children each and every day.
Julia Moss


Sarah Tuttle Singer and her family

Feeling everything with my kids during COVID-19
The coronavirus has changed our entire world. Our schools are shut. We’re working from home. Our roads are empty and you can hear the wind moving through the trees. And the kids are home. It sucks. I’m anxious again. The same triggers. Germs. Only this time, no one is laughing. No one is telling me “It’ll be OK, don’t worry.” I’m the one saying it to my kids because I’ve felt this before, and I’ve lived it before, and I remember it now. And yes, it’s scary and the dangers are real, and we are stuck at home, bored out of our minds, but we are together.

And I get another chance to feel all of it. And I am leaning into it — all of it — this sticky middle, and it isn’t pretty. We’ve screamed at one another. I broke a pane of glass in one of the doors when I slammed it during a particularly difficult moment … but I felt it. I was there. My daughter talked back to me and it hurt my feelings … but I felt it. I was there. My son ignored me when I asked him to do the dishes, and I was frustrated … but I felt it. I was there. We have dance parties to strengthen our bodies. We listen to the Ramones, and the “Rent” soundtrack, and “Princess and the Frog.” I bought us each notebooks and we write in them every day — stories about our feelings, stories about our fears. And even with the kids and my partner, I am lonely since the world is changing into something new.

And there will be messy, noisy times when I’ll feel angry and heartbroken and terrified and trapped … but I am here, right here … and I am feeling every last bit of it.
Sarah Tuttle-Singer
— Israel

Marion Haberman

Feeling the emotional weight of this new reality
I’m a stay-at-home mom, but since quarantine life began I’ve become a stay-at-home AT-ALL-TIMES mom, and the emotional weight of this new reality is heavy. I feel guilt and pressure to make up for my children missing the social connections they left behind at preschool. Visits with grandparents and play dates with friends were supportive building blocks that I’m trying somehow to compensate for at home. My 3-year-old uses phrases like, “When this is over,” and asks when he’ll be able to go to the grocery store again. It’s heartbreaking to lack the words to explain what’s going on to him, mostly because I can’t comprehend it myself. On the other hand, we are wearing our pajamas until noon, we never have to stop playing for anything but bedtime, special desserts are being baked all the time, and mountains of home art projects are being created. When I can forget about all we’re missing, I feel full from everything we have right here.
Marion Haberman 


Sally Abrams

Creating ‘Nanny’s Korona Kitchen’
For six weeks, I’ve been cooking a huge dinner every day (except Saturday) and packing it up for my local children to take home. Like so many parents, they are working from home and caring for their very young children. It’s all so hard and exhausting. Helping them gives me peace and purpose. I call my project “Nanny’s Korona Kitchen.”
Sally Abrams


Joyce and Mark Snyder

Embracing motherhood after being near death
I collapsed last July and was near death after being alone for three days, unconscious in my condo. My son came to find me hardly able to breathe. Paramedics took me to St. John’s in Santa Monica and saved my life. I was on a ventilator and the amazing teams there saved my life. I was in two hospitals and a rehabilitation center for a total of five weeks. When I became conscious and saw my son (who was at my side every day around the clock), my role as a mom and psychotherapist was to immediately assess him for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since this is my area of specialization, I knew he was seriously traumatized. I was not fully aware of the complexities of my own medical condition at that time. I have grown so much closer to my son who saved my life. My role as a mother has become more meaningful since I was so close to death.
Joyce Snyder


Gerilyn Shorten

The gift of ‘Coronavirus Quarantine’
Short order cook.
University did not prepare me for this, nor did real life . Before the coronavirus, I was “just” a mom and “just” a party planner. But I’m embracing the roles in the list above to transform into the things my family needs from me. My darlings are 17 and 14. There is an old saying: “Cherish the times you have because you won’t get them back.” And like most, life just moved on faster than a speeding bullet. But as much as we miss seeing our outside family and friends, “Coronavirus Quarantine” has been a gift. I’ve had the chance to nourish their bodies and stop rushing. We have long meals, afternoons at the pool, the time to do a 1,000-piece puzzle and binge watch a show. We have taken joy in doing, and being the recipients of, chesed. With my social kids up and running (and driving), they were busy with school, sports and socialization. Now I can hold them hostage and enjoy them under the guise of “quarantine.”­
Gerilyn Shorten


Amanda and Benjamin Morin

My best is good enough
I’d love to say quarantine has made me more present and patient, but the truth is it’s made me realize that doing my best is going to have to be good enough. I always tell my kids they can’t do better than their best. It’s advice I’m going to have to take right now. Amid all this uncertainty, I’m distracted and worried, and it affects my productivity. But it’s still the best I can do. And I can’t do any better than that.
Amanda Morin


Lisa Hanish

Baby birds returning to the empty nest
My husband and I were enjoying the finally, long-awaited  “empty nest” stage  when the “safer-at-home” orders began and both our daughters moved back home from out-of-state colleges. They were not thrilled about this either. The groceries, the laundry, the cleaning. Trying to find a quiet place to teach my fifth-grade students online was difficult. But then, something special happened. We began to have family dinners every night. We would share the events of our day. This has been an amazing gift.  We are cooking, baking, exercising, binge watching “Dave” all together. I hope when all is said and done, this will be the thing we remember most about COVID-19 and 2020.
Lisa Hanish


Stacy Mintzer Herlihy

A port in the coronavirus storm
As someone on the verge of sending my teen out into the world soon, the immediate future suddenly feels like a leap into the unknown. My oldest daughter is 17. She’s a high school junior. Her SATs were canceled in April. We think about college the year after next and come up blank. She asks me about her what’s going to happen in the next year. I can’t tell her. Here in New Jersey, we are sitting in the middle of some of the worst numbers of the entire pandemic. My daughter wants to know what will happen when she’s an adult and finishes college. She asked me if we’ll be friends and possibly even best friends. The truth is, I hope, for something far, far better: I want to be her safety net. I look five and 10 years to the future. I want to be there when she needs me as much as she needs me now. I want to be the person she can ask for help and get it without strings attached. I can’t be my daughter’s friend. We are too unalike. She can barely believe I grew up in a world with electric typewriters and phone cords. I want to run from the room when I hear Taylor Swift. She thinks Suzanne Vega is boring. She likes pink and I find it insipid. She’s a vegetarian, a lover of reptiles and snow. I adore hamburgers, the beach and dislike snakes the way I dislike leaf blowers and pineapple on pizza. Instead, we sit here right now together with the same goals as I hope we’ll always have. I am now her port in the coronavirus storm that is our lives. It’s one place I want her to have for the rest of our lives.
Stacy Mintzer Herlihy 


Sandra Suissa-Moghrabi

Reversing mother-daughter roles
I always hated the title “stay-at-home mom.” I never stay home. I drive, I drop-off, I pick-up, I deliver, I purchase, I Costco, I get stuck in traffic (I curse), etc.

Mother’s Day 2020, though, will rather be about me as a daughter. Because of the current pandemic, we decided to have my mother stay in our home. It has been a month now. I used to be queen of my castle (aka my kitchen) and I had to move over to make way for the woman who has not lived with me for me 21 years. To the surprise of everyone who knows my mother, this transition was quite seamless. The years I missed being an active learner and participant in my mother’s kitchen, were gifted back to me at a time when the world is suffering. This quarantine has changed the entire mom dynamics in my house. In essence, this year, both of our roles have changed — mine as a daughter, hers as a mother and grandmother. I assure you, my siblings will thank me one day. Hopefully even my kids. In their kitchens.
Sandra Suissa-Moghrabi
— Canada


Judith Sudilovsky

These precious coronavirus months
It was the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Israel and I was supposed to be handing over my oldest son to the army. We didn’t know when he would be coming home again — word was at least a month — because of the coronavirus precautions. So there were my tears as he disappeared down the path and into that dreaded doorway, his broad shoulders swaggering a bit as he carried his black backpack filled with the required supplies we had rushed out to buy a few days earlier before the stores were forced to close. But the army doctor postponed his induction for three months because of a knee injury he had received in a judo competition in October and the subsequent operation he had in November.

Now, with the coronavirus, we have had him at home for three months. We have watched movies together, played poker and monopoly, had meals together, yelled at each other, and spent too much time on screens isolated from each other.

And as I have watched him these weeks, learning how to weld from my husband and building the railing around our second-floor balcony with his younger brother, calling me now to come sit with him for a lunch of the precisely cut tomato and cucumber salad he has made and homemade humus, I am keenly aware of how precious these coronavirus months with him at home have been for me, my own personal respite from the uncertainty of the situation and the uncertainty of the future as he enters the army.
Judith Sudilovsky
 — Israel


Eiles and Ezra Schlanger

Trying to turn my son into a Jewish mother
“David, don’t you think it’s time he gets potty trained? And for heaven’s sake, get that binky out his mouth — he’s almost 3!”  This is one of the many unsolicited suggestions I have given to my 47-year-old son, and a COVID-19 stay-at-home dad. I’m just trying to encourage his maternal instincts, to help him become just a fraction of a Jewish mother. I am afraid my words fall on deaf ears, but I won’t give up. I can’t. Right now my grandsons (Ezra, 3, and Miles, 3 months) need me. Their mother, Sara, is a doctor. She is at work from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. all week long. She’s exhausted. My son is cooking and cleaning, feeding and washing and is sorely lacking in maternal instincts. I have no memory of him ever making a bed.   He takes all my well-meaning suggestions as criticism, but in the end, tries out a few. Sometimes, in those rare moments when he can listen, he hears me. He cradles Miles lovingly in his arms, all hours of the day, rocks and sings to him.  He plays catch with Ezra, teaches him drumming, and limits his TV watching. I can’t visit, and not being able to hold and kiss them hurts. But I have the phone and FaceTime. I’ve learned all these tech tricks just in time to know my son had and still has … a very good mother.
Carol Schlanger


Carol Szabo

Being mindful during these unprecedented times
I am the proud mom of two wonderful boys, Aleksandr 11, and Massimo, 10. I am French originally, Sephardic from Tunisia. My husband is French Hungarian. I grew up in Paris, have lived in New York, London, Dubai and Mumbai; we have been in Los Angeles since 2011 and I love this place and its infinite beauty.

After six years in the most amazing elementary school, my fifth-grader Aleksandr won’t get to graduate with his friends. I said to my kids, “There are things we will miss and there are things we will appreciate. I want you to imagine this is June 30 and you are looking back at these past few months in confinement. How do you want to remember these months? How do you want to show up during this unprecedented time?” From that reflection, we chose to be mindful of our thoughts, to quiet the voices in our heads and to go to our creative brains to make this time the most meaningful possible, and I feel that we have accomplished just that.
Caro Szabo

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