Back in March, my partner Chris wrote an essay for Vancouver Is Awesome about Charles Montgomery’s fantastic new book Happy City, and how it perfectly articulated our family’s own decade-long journey from the suburbs of Toronto to the heartbeat of Vancouver. In the coming months, he and I are going to share with you the experiences unique to this city that fill us with pride, joy and excitement; allowing us to build a happier city, just by living it.
If you’re a parent living in British Columbia, like us, you may be one of the thousands of families affected by the teacher strike that delayed the start of the school year by three weeks. Regardless of where you stand on the situation, having kids not in school is stressful for all parents, and we are no exception. After a summer of fun and travel, our daughter is ready to get back to her friends, her teachers, and routine, while our five-year-old son is ready to start a new chapter of his life, entering kindergarten. Working from home has meant that I’m with our children 24/7, and while I love them more than words could describe, we’ve all started to get under each other’s skin. But while we are all left frustrated, I have also come to find that the social ties I have been building in our community and online have been a blessing, making it just a little bit easier to cope during a difficult and uncertain time.
My husband and I are very active on social media, as anyone who knows us can attest. I’ve noted in past writing that this has benefitted us with a larger social circle, being able to meet like-minded people who share our values, passions and interests. It has also allowed me to stay in touch with the parent community at our childrens’ school. So when a fellow parent posted on Facebook about needing a dog walker, I was able to respond and quickly set up my daughter’s first dog-walking gig, something we’ve been discussing for sometime due to her love of dogs and our firm “NO DOG” policy for our own home. It’s been a fantastic learning experience for her, developing a sense of responsibility, and something she can call her own, even though her brother and I join her for the walks.
Outside of social media, though, we’ve chosen to live in a very active and connected community. It is not uncommon to pass many neighbours, friends and other families when we’re walking or cycling on and around Commercial Drive. Most days while the strike has been happening, I have taken to getting out in the afternoons with the kids and going to one of the many local parks. Without fail, even though I bring my book with plans of sitting quietly by myself, we end up seeing people we know. Just last week, when I was feeling particularly lonely, as Mondays tend to be, I went to Trout Lake to find two other mothers and their children at the playground, and while the children entertained themselves with schoolmates, I had the chance to chat with other adults, share stories of how we’re managing, and even catching up on how our summers were. I left feeling uplifted, having had the opportunity to connect with friends, and valuing our proximity to so many families going through many of the same struggles.
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