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Navigating a Pandemic with Kids Under 5

Navigating the pandemic with two kids under five is no joke. I feel like I’m in a game of dodgeball and am just ducking and pivoting to narrowly escape the likely—and seemingly inevitable—blow. Add in the fact that my daughter is considered high risk because of her cystic fibrosis and it makes it feel all the more daunting right now.

Since the beginning of December, both of my daughters have had to quarantine three different times due to close-contact exposure at daycare. My oldest daughter had to be quarantined a fourth time in February. During this last one, they changed the rules slightly, meaning it was only Margo at home, giving us a little more breathing room — but not much.

Thankfully — and I can’t articulate that enough — neither child has tested positive. But it has meant weeks of being at home, away from friends, out of their routine.

Be on the (constant) lookout

I lost count of how many kids at their school have had it at this point. We were getting multiple health notifications per day from the school during the second quarantine. Every time my phone rings, I get a pit in my stomach that it’s daycare, there’s been a positive case, and we need to pick up the girls.

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My mind immediately goes into task mode. If symptomatic, schedule the PCR for day 5. Contact the CF clinic to make them aware and find out what to be on the lookout for. Cancel and reschedule doctor appointments. Stock up on rapid tests. Look at our work schedules and switch around meetings if necessary. Be on constant lookout for symptoms, which by the way, are alarmingly similar to my daughter’s daily symptoms of CF, particularly during the winter.

A mind game

When Margo was a newborn, my husband and I joked that we always played a game of “is it teething, or is it CF?” Another version was "Is it seasonal allergies, or CF?" We would email our clinic questions constantly because we had no clue what we were dealing with. The symptoms were all similar and anything could be blamed on one or the other. We were relieved if it was teething or allergies. It was typical, everyday baby things we knew we can handle and that would eventually end.

Now we play a more complicated game with even more variables:

Is it COVID, CF, or a cold?

For my baby, is it teething, COVID, or a cold?

What day were they exposed and how do their symptoms line up with that timeline?

Which one of them just coughed? What does that runny nose mean?

How am I feeling? Will I get it?

Will this ever end?

A tricky balance

My brain hurts. My body and mind are exhausted from juggling and protecting and being a parent during a pandemic. We are still months away from Margo being vaccinated. Our CF clinic has advised us not to fly any time soon since my baby is too young to be masked and therefore is actually the biggest risk factor to Margo. It is lonely and isolating.

There are also so many joyful and fun moments being at home with the girls when they should be at school and we should be at the office. In my weariest moments, I try to remember that and practice gratitude, but it’s a tricky balance to maintain and honestly trying to do so only adds to the weight of it all.

Are you parenting a child with CF? What are some daily struggles you have had to deal with? Share with us below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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