Editor’s note: Over the next two months, we’re checking in with Farmington area families to see how they’re coping with the COVID-19 pandemic – disrupted summer plans, keeping everyone safe, and the big back-to-school decisions they face. Our hope is to share resources and ideas, and to let families affected by the pandemic know they are not alone.
by Emily Karlichek
Summer isn’t quite the same this year, three Farmington area families say, but it’s not all bad, either.
For Thomas and Rachel Lee of Farmington Hills, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have affected travel and other plans.
“As university faculty, I usually don’t teach over the summer and take those few weeks to explore with my boys,” Rachel said. “We can still do some things with restrictions, but don’t have trips planned and haven’t visited family at all since COVID hit. Our days are spent in our backyard playing, walking the dog, taking bike rides, working on the house, and having game nights.”
Her husband, Thomas, has continued his usual remote work as a business analyst and project manager for an out-of-state university while they have managed changing schedules for themselves and their two sons, Everett, 9, and Isaak, 7, who are entering 4th and 2nd grade at Kenbrook Elementary.
Rick and Julianne Bishop of Farmington Hills share similar sentiments. They missed out on their usual spring break vacation and holidays with family, as well as summer learning through Farmington Public Schools for their daughter Norah, 9.
“We are missing pools, splash pads, and going to the movies as a family. We are also missing visits with Norah’s Nana, who lives in a local senior housing community – we won’t risk exposure for anyone by visiting her right now,” Julianne shared.
The Bishops also say they’ve had more time to play with Norah, who is entering 4th grade at Kenbrook Elementary this fall, and with their two dogs. Julianne, an office administrator for a local painting company, said, “It was nice when Rick was working from home and didn’t have to spend two hours commuting each day” to his automotive engineering job.
For Rachel Lee, a little breathing room has been positive for her family’s schedules and their health.
“We usually are pretty heavily scheduled with activities, social activities, clubs, and sports, so it’s been nice to allow my kids to just be kids this summer,” she said. “We’ve been cooking more, eating out less, doing more exercise together, and getting more sleep. I think we’re more grateful in general. This goes for our health, safety, jobs, and the time we now get to share as a family. I think when we return to in person activities, we’ll all appreciate social interaction much more, too.”
Time for family
Realtor Autumn Hicks and mortgage loan officer Andrew Buck have three children: Lucy, 14, who is entering 10th grade at Farmington High School; Aria, 6, who is entering first grade at Woodcreek Elementary; and Jackson, who is almost 2.
Their family has always enjoyed backyard fun, so things aren’t much different when it comes to grilling, sprinklers, and inflatable pools on beautiful summer days, though an occasional beach trip would be nice. While indoor activities – movie theaters, trampoline parks, and museums – are out, Autumn said, they’ve enjoyed being creative at home and don’t miss the crowded public spaces.
“We miss those who we have lost,” Andrew said. “We miss the sense of being able to go places and participate in activities without having to worry about endangering others. We miss our families and our friends.”
Autumn said the family moved to Farmington Hills to be closer to Andrew’s parents, “but with concerns around COVID we haven’t been able to visit with them. Now, his dad is stuck in Canada at their cottage to monitor rising water on the property, and if he comes back to the U.S., he won’t be able to get back into Canada because of Canada’s COVID restrictions.”
Learning about themselves
While trying to create a balance between work and family, Autumn has fallen in love with Zoom meetings. They have cut down her commutes and allowed her to be more productive an engaged with family, friends and clients. Virtual tools have made their lives as professionals, partners, and parents much easier.
Also, Andrew said, everyone is also learning more about themselves. “We’ve realized that we don’t need as much to get by. We’ve been able to bring our family closer together, become more deeply connected, more sincere and deliberate, and more aware of others’ experiences and needs.”