Our daily life has been turned upside down due to COVID-19. We are all sheltering in place for the foreseeable future — our kids are remote learning from home, our partners are working from home. This is a lot to process for everyone, including our kids who are no longer at school, seeing friends, playing sports, or doing the activities they love. Adults are trying to keep up with work, while balancing a household where the dishwasher runs constantly, and we are conducting “school” from home. So how do we keep our kids and ourselves sane, healthy, and safe during these unprecedented times?
A difficult part of adjusting to this new normal is the lack of connection to extended family, friends, and the outside world. You quickly realize how much you miss those everyday interactions — the school drop off, exercise class, or running into a friend at the grocery store or coffee shop or dropping by a friend’s house for dinner. This shelter in place has forced us to find other ways to connect, and thanks to technology that is made easier with Zoom, Group Facetime, Houseparty, and Google Hangout. These video conferencing tools are now being used for virtual playdates, happy hours, and family dinners.
I have loosened my restrictions for the kids around technology and social media realizing that they need this sense of connection to their friends. My oldest got Snapchat, my son is playing video games with friends, and my youngest is organizing get-togethers with classmates through Houseparty. I have found a new appreciation for these tools, so I’m adjusting screen-time limits. For all the downfalls of social media, it has been a place to find inspirations, uplifting quotes, and funny memes.
Whether a FaceTime call, a phone call, or a text checking on parents, those living alone, and friends who may be having a hard time with the uncertainty, it is part of our new routine.
We are a city that likes to stay fit. One of my hardest moments has been when my gym closed. Exercising is as much about my physical health as it is my mental health, and now walks or runs outside must be with social distancing.
It has been amazing how businesses are selling or renting equipment for home workouts, posting online workouts, or offering live-streaming classes. However, nothing beats fresh air, so planning time for walks or runs to get everyone moving is important, and walks can spark conversations. No recess, no P.E., and no sports means a lot of pent up energy that needs to find an outlet. We have also had fun with Just Dance 2020, an Xbox game that gets everybody up moving, dancing, and even breaking a sweat.
More time at home means more time to plan meals and eat as a family. The first week for me was hard — there was a lot of stress eating and a lot of wine. With each day as we settle into a new normal, I have cut back on both. When you need to mix it up, many local restaurants are providing takeout, which is a great way to support them and switch up dinner options.
TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME
The uncertainty of when this will end and what life will look like is enough to make anyone anxious. When Governor Newsom announced it was unlikely students would return to school this school year, I know for many parents this felt like the shot heard around the state. Schools have been telling us two to three weeks, but we’re hearing this could go on for an extended period. The uncertainty of not knowing exactly when it will end is scary when you look at the statistics around the virus.
So my new approach for myself and my kids is one day at a time. I say, “We made it through Wednesday and tomorrow is Thursday.” We try to stay in the present, stay positive and hopeful. We started a gratitude jar, so now everyday each of us puts something we are grateful for in the jar. This is a simple way to focus on what we have and not what we are no longer able to do.
The data and science are showing us that these next few weeks are critical to “flattening the curve.” I encourage everyone during this difficult time to look for new ways to connect, stay healthy, and stay positive. These tips will help us and our kids navigate this new normal.
Remember to hug the ones you can, pray for the ones on the front lines, and wash your hands!
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