Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in the spring, parents of young children have struggled with many changes to their lifestyles, from the shift to online learning to the forced isolation from friends and loved ones.
Jewish mom Lindsay Rechler experienced these pandemic predicaments firsthand. Since March, she’s been at home in Manhattan with her husband and her kids Jack, 4, and Kenzie 2. In between work and keeping everyone safe and fed, her family — like so many of us — have been spending an inordinate amount of time on Zoom.
This shift to remote learning and work has been a major change in all of our lives, but for Rechler, who’s a managing director at a global investment bank, this change sparked some serious creativity: She wrote a pandemic parody of Goodnight Moon appropriately titled, Good Morning Zoom.
Good Morning Zoom describes the novelty of quarantine work habits, creating the all too familiar living room scene: “And there was your mom and dad, working on their phones and iPad… And again in our house, Mom’s in the same pajama blouse.” Same, Mom. Same.
We chatted with Rechler over email to learn more about her quarantine experience, the inspiration for Good Morning Zoom, and why she’s donating the profits from her book sales to charity.
Your “day job” is a managing director at a global investment bank. What inspired you to write a children’s book?
I was working around the clock in mid-March and spent sleepless nights trying to come up with ways to explain to my children why their world was turned upside down. Why did we go from “no-iPad” to “here’s an iPad and we are mandating that you sit in front of it for exactly 47 minutes while all your friends talk about their favorite book or toy?” Or why did we go from playdates and seeing grandparents each weekend to exclusively Facetime calls? Answering those questions in a way that my children would understand was my inspiration. I never thought that I would write a children’s book – it was the content that inspired me.
When did you come up with the idea for Good Morning Zoom?
Zoom became the new keyword of our household. I was using Zoom multiple times a day for conference calls, as was my husband. By the end of March both of my kids knew how to access the Zoom app, log on, and mute themselves — so it was talked about. Goodnight Moon had always been a favorite book in our home and one we read to our children often. The first line of Goodnight Moon says “In the great green room” and that line resonated with me, and the first thing I wrote down was, “In your own living room.” It seemed fitting because Goodnight Moon takes place exclusively in one room or home and that is how I felt about quarantine. Zoom was a nice play on words and fitting, given our new reality and this concept of replacing hugs with technology.
One of my favorite lines in the book “good morning indoor sports and couch pillow forts.” Are these some of the activities your family is doing to keep busy during lockdown?
We are the pillow-fort experts! I mostly give credit to my husband for stepping up our fort game and using mattresses. I used our own experiences, staying home together, in the book because I felt if we were doing this, then probably most families were, too. My children are not used to having my husband and I home — all the time — since we both work full-time. While not every day is easy, I am grateful that we are healthy, and I feel fortunate to have this time with my family — at home.
You have said that Good Morning Zoom is a parody of Goodnight Moon. What does Goodnight Moon mean to you?
Goodnight Moon brings comfort. It’s a familiar story with a tone that resonates with children. I was trying to write about a topic that is quite difficult – especially for children. I felt that talking about life during a pandemic, using a familiar tone, would make the explanation easier.
I really appreciate the gratitude to essential workers in Good Morning Zoom in the line “Good morning sunlight/ And goodbye fright/ Thank you doctors and nurses who will make things alright.” How do you think kids benefit from talking about heroes in scary times like this?
I wanted children to understand that, while they are safe and protected in their own home, that there’s a world out there. People are out and going to work to keep us safe both today and in the future. It was important for me to show the outside world as a symbol of hope — hope that doctors and nurses are making people better; hope that there will be a vaccine. The heroes are all the essential workers, which is why I mentioned the grocery store and “packages at my door.” It is because of these brave people that we are able to stay home.
What do you hope that kids and parents take away from reading Good Morning Zoom?
I think children will find comfort because the book details what they are actually going through – each and every day. This pandemic is unique because it is one of the few times that everyone, around the world, is in the same situation. I hope that all children find comfort in the familiarity of this book and maybe ask questions to their parents or caretakers and this story will provide a forum to talk about COVID-19 and the reason why this is our new normal. Most importantly, for both kids and parents, I want the book to provide hope.
Can you talk about your own relationship to your Jewishness and judaism. What aspect of your Jewish identity and/or values do you think informs your work?
My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and instilled many important values that have shaped who I am today. He taught me to work hard, to be kind, to follow my dreams, and he made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Whether it’s a project at work, writing a book, or raising my children, I think about him and everything he went through and it motivates me to do my best. Jewish traditions and family gatherings are the cornerstones of my upbringing and I hope to pass that along to my children. My grandfather always taught me the importance of tzedakah which inspired me to write this book and donate the proceeds.
The profits from your book will be donated to three covid-relief charities: PROJECT C.U.R.E, No Kid Hungry and STRIVE. How did you decide on these organizations?
All three organizations are wonderful and unique – providing different relief efforts in a time that is crucial. Their missions moved me and I felt that it covered different areas of contribution to our world.
What do you think Good Morning Zoom will mean to kids and parents in a few years after this era of lockdown, and to future generations?
I hope parents and kids look back and say “remember when we spent those days, weeks, months together as a family.” “Remember when we were safe inside and our brave scientists, doctors and all of our essential workers were outside saving the world.” I hope people look back with happy memories of that rare opportunity when kids get to be with their working parents 24/7. I will personally remember being there for all of my children’s zoom “events” as opposed to running out of a meeting and sprinting uptown to be there on time. That being said, I read the book back and part of it brings sadness as this truly is a “world not quite right.” But it also bring me hope – hope for our future and a better world that we will return to soon.