Even with the sad backdrop of the coronavirus, parents are discovering—or rediscovering—the pleasure of spending time with one another and their children. More time means more opportunities to connect. However, unless parents are clearly communicating with each other and to their children, things can turn sour in a hurry.
That’s why Gino De Bernardo and his wife, Tara, had a rather frank conversation in the first week of shelter in place. Gino, a portfolio manager and vice president at Comerica Bank, and Tara, an executive assistant to Servicenow CEO Bill McDermott, were suddenly going to be working from their downtown San Jose home with their two children without the benefit of being able to drop them off at daycare or preschool.
“I think it was very intimidating being in charge of the children as we’re both working high-intensity jobs from home,” Gino said. “If we’re not mindful of this, this can break relationships. So we had to make sure to have good communication.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
What seemed intimidating at the outset of working from home and taking care of the children has resulted in simple moments of pure, unmitigated joy. Gino now does things he usually never got to do before—like taking daily videos of his 2-year-old daughter Harlow waking up and coming out of her room.
“We’re able to share those montages with our family abroad, and it’s a way to log some of these memories,” he said.
During the pandemic, Gino and Tara have learned to chuckle at otherwise unlaughable situations. Tara has been on an important video call several times only to have one of her kids walk into her room with their underwear on, in full view of the others on the call. Harlow has also hid a box of Sharpies so well that her parents couldn’t find them.
“She’ll randomly appear with Sharpie marks on her face, body, the walls,” Tara said. “One time she even drew on the inside of her mouth. It becomes a comedy hour sometimes, and we’ve figured out to take advantage of the quarantine to cement family memories.”
Fremont residents David and Connie Park have also used the Covid-19 crisis to strengthen their marriage and spend additional quality time with their two sons, Joshua, 10, and Canyon, who just turned a year old.
Unlike most couples who work from home in opposite rooms, David and Connie have their work desks right next to each other. While some couples wouldn’t be able to stand each other by being in each other’s space—literally—all day, the Parks have flourished.
“For us it’s been kind of fun just being next to each other and being able to talk throughout the day, however small that may be,” said David, a staff credit strategy lead at Intuit in Mountain View. “It helps us stay more in touch and in sync with one another.”
Instead of looking at the coronavirus crisis as a negative, the Parks have used it as an opportunity to grow with each other. They appreciate the little things more than ever before. “When we’re taking a break from work, chit chatting or eating lunch together, those are things we usually can’t do on weekdays [before shelter in place],” David said. “Just being able to share those moments is pretty special. Even though these are hard times, Connie and I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we get to spend this extra time together that we’ll maybe never have again.”
David said shelter in place has been toughest on Joshua, who hasn’t been able to physically meet up with friends from school or church. That’s why David and Connie have been intentional in making sure to give Joshua attention every chance they get.
“One small thing I did last week was trying to have Joshua cook with me,” David said. “I’d give him basic instructions, and it’s something we can do together. It’s a non-homework thing, and it’s been kind of fun for both of us. All in all, it’s been a positive experience for us as a family being able to spend quality time together.”