Atlanta Parent spoke with Ira Dawson, Head of Middle School at The Walker School; Father of Ariyana, 12, Ira, 2, and Cameron, 10 months

What new activity have you and your family started enjoying during this time?

This situation has really compelled us to slow down and spend these moments together. We were really busy; we had a schedule packed. There’s a lot of time for us to do activities together, and spend time together in the kitchen and living room. I’m grateful for what the quarantine has done in terms of spending time with my younger children and my daughter, and where she is in school, and learning what her dreams, goals and aspirations are.

Playing board games. My family’s really competitive, whether we’re playing Monopoly, Monopoly Deal, volleyball or working out. We’re doing physical activities together.

Cooking together.

How are you balancing working at home with home/family responsibilities?

The number one thing that helps me out is I have a phenomenal wife. Even though she’s a scientist and researcher, she handles a lot of the load throughout the day. I might have Zoom meetings from 8-4 or 8-6. I’ll work past midnight into the wee hours, which is not the best scenario, but has gotten me to the point where I can be a little bit more flexible during the daytime.

Do you have any meals that are your specialty?

French toast. Spaghetti. For Mother’s Day, I did it big with steak, creamed corn, stewed okra, salad, fruit. I love to cook, but I normally don’t have the time to. With three kids, we’re just trying to get food in bellies before bedtimes.

As we’ve been cooking together, we’re a pancake family. We all like them different ways, someone’ll make the batter, someone’ll have the fruit, someone’ll have the chocolate chips. For dinner, each of us has a dish that we’ll cook, bring it together and have a full meal.

Any at-home projects you have been able to tackle?

The biggest thing we’ve been able to do is regularly scheduled lawn maintenance. We love working outside. We’ve also done some of the small things that have slipped through the cracks, like organizing rooms, finding things we haven’t seen in a long time, redoing the furniture.

Any funny dad/kid(s) moments from this time?

My daughter plays competitive volleyball with A5. She challenged me to a volleyball game. The old competition rolls up in my belly, and it could have been the 2020 Olympics as we battled outside—some old man in his flip flops and his daughter. We live in a neighborhood where people like to walk, and people were walking by and cheering us on and laughing.

How do you plan to celebrate Father’s Day?

I’ve been so blessed during this time period. We have been able to continue eating and not worry about paying bills. My wife’s been so good to me, I would even do Mother’s Day twice. We’ll probably just relax and watch movies, so there’s no stress on anybody. My Father’s Day is every day.

Any other advice for dads during this time?

Beyond and besides the weight of the financial burden of loss of job, wages or opportunities, take the moment to enjoy more intimate time with your family. Take inventory of the blessings around you and how good God has been. Enjoy these uninterrupted, pure moments to watch your family grow up right before your eyes. Seize the moment. Enjoy the small things together, meals, physical activity, funny conversations. We’ve been truly blessed, in terms of we haven’t had to make too many adjustments to our lifestyle. I empathize with those who have, and encourage them to keep their faith in God. This too shall pass. Embrace the moment and every day, find a new way to reinvent yourself. When this time comes out, I know that I’ll be a better father, a better husband, a better teacher and administrative leader. This has been a tough scenario, but I’ll come out on top and even better, and I want others to do the same.

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