Skip to main content

After 2 years of COVID in Colorado, moms reflect on pandemic's impact on their families

Email share

DENVER — When COVID-19 arrived to the U.S. in 2020, it changed the American way of life, sending kids home from school, closing stores and restaurants and leading to mandatory social-distancing and mask-wearing.

Two years after the initial shutdown, four Denver-based parents shared with Rocky Mountain PBS some of what they’ve been through, the ways they’ve coped and how they are still feeling the effects of the global pandemic.  

Denver parents share the struggles of pandemic

Denver parents share their stories about how the pandemic shaped their lives

Kristin Franke, a single mother to a 4-year-old, shared that when the pandemic first hit, she was laid off from her job. It was tough for her.

"There's just a lot of unknowns going on, and I think there is a lot of fear still, and nobody knows how we're going to get caught up; that's a big one," Franke said. "The biggest struggle is being at home with my daughter all the time and not having any outside help." 

Franke now works from home. She, like the other moms we spoke with, said her daughter's virtual learning was particularly challenging. To keep the family balance in her household, she let her daughter know that just because she was learning virtually, that didn't mean it was time to play. Franke suggested parents set up a schedule at home to keep everyone on track, just like if your child was at school. 

Mothers Lorena Popoca, Kadi Kouyate and Ivy Foster have similar set-ups at home for their kids’ learning.  

For example, Foster said her 18-year-old and 12-year-old twins love to play games on their devices. She notes that everything has a balance. Foster lets her kids play games during certain times, such as before learning or after homework and school projects are completed. 

Kouyate, mother to a 9-year-old, said that during her daughter's scheduled snack time, she uses that time as a break for herself. Kouyate recommended parents find time for a break as well. She also recommended parents give their child and themselves some space in the household and designate one room for learning, so your child knows that it's time to get their work done once they are in that specific room. 

Popoca, a mother to a 4-year-old and 7-year-old, said when the pandemic first hit, her girls were excited to be home, but later wanted to go back to school.  

"My kids would tell me, 'I miss my friends, I miss my teachers,' so it was hard for them to understand that things were changing, but now it's normal," Popoca said. "My 7-year-old says to me sometimes, 'I think when I'm 10, the COVID is going to go, or when it is gone, I will be able to do this.' I don't think she can quite get used to the pandemic. It is hard with the masks and all." 

Foster and Popoca remembered the fears of grocery shopping or even going to medical facilities when the pandemic first hit.  

"I remember when it started, we would order groceries to our home, we would clean them outside and bring them into the house," said Popoca. 

"You could visually see the stress in my eyes and my face," Foster added. "If I had to go grocery shopping or the kids had a doctor's appointment, I didn't want to take them to a medical office. I didn't want to take them to the doctor or take my kids grocery shopping. I couldn't take that risk." 

Parents Kouyate and Popoca shared that because their family is well-adjusted to "pandemic life" as they both called it, the Omicron variant didn't necessarily throw a wrench into their family dynamic. 

"We both feel comfortable about Omicron, and we both are vaccinated," said Kouyate 

"When Omicron hit, our family was like, 'It's going to be O.K.,' because now we were more prepared for it. We knew that it was time to wear our masks and sanitize," said Popoca. 

Now, many Coloradans, including state officials, have shown an eagerness to move on from the pandemic, even if the virus will be a part of our lives forever, as Governor Jared Polis said in a Feb. 25 press conference.

“The virus is here and will likely be the rest of our lives," Polis said, but adding that the state is now more equipped to handle the virus than ever before. "It’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter."

[Related: 'You only live once': Governor says fully-vaccinated people can live their lives normally]

Kouyate and Popoca have come to the conclusion that the pandemic has changed their lives forever, but feel that overall, it has made their families stronger in many ways. 

"I think this mask situation helped with viruses like the flu and cold, things before COVID," Popoca said. "My girls know they need to wear their masks. We can adapt to new things." 

"I know that this was unprecedented for all of us, and we were ready for it, but I think if we all dedicated our time energy and focused on the outcome, I think it would be better for all of us," Kouyate said. "We had to go through some challenges for us for the past two years because we had to learn another way to support our kids." 

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at

Related Stories

Spotlight Newsletter

Community stories from across Colorado and updates on your favorite PBS programs, in your inbox every Tuesday.

Sign up here!