In response to the COVID-19 virus, many families are now entering (or have already entered) into a “new normal” during this unknown period of quarantine. Our routines have been stripped away and been replaced by the challenge of creating a way of life that somehow manages to balance work with rest and prudence with peace. Parents in particular are being put to the test in this scenario that demands so much of them, but it’s important to remember that we have the power to set the tone for our families. If we treat this as an opportunity instead of a punishment, our kids will pick up on that attitude and follow suit. There is no denying this will be strange, uncharted territory for many of us, but there are certain strategies and activities we can utilize to make this experience an overall positive one.
Treat family time as a gift – Despite the inconvenience and various concerns we have surrounding the situation, coronavirus has created a unique opportunity for families to spend ample quality time together. This is something we usually have to fight for; scheduling vacations, taking time off work, just to win some valuable time together.
Create structure – Without set schedules or engagements, our lives can feel chaotic and unproductive. Combat the chaos by setting a loose schedule for your family so everyone has clear expectations about what to expect on a typical day. You can designate family time, alone time, work time, chore time, and recreation time. If both parents are telecommuting, take turns working and caring for the children.
Limit screen time – When modern humans are housebound, our natural tendency is to overdo screen time, but this really isn’t the healthiest pattern, especially during a long-term quarantine. Try your best to reduce time in front of the TV, laptop, and phone for the sake of your eyes, your psyche, and the relational well-being of your family.
Conquer those projects you’ve been meaning to get to – We all have something on our long-standing to-do list that is begging to be finished. Use this time to finally get it done – you’ll feel accomplished and most likely relieve some stress.
Read – This one is somewhat of a no brainer, but oftentimes we forget the simplest of activities. Picking up a great book not only helps us reduce screen time, but it’s immensely valuable for our EQ and IQ. To learn more about the benefits of reading, click here.
Create – Whether it’s music, painting, scrap-booking, decoupaging, etc., creating art is not only relaxing but also engages important parts of our brain. Find a fun art project to work on with your kids or gather various art supplies and let the creative juices flow! You may find art especially helpful in a time like this, as our sense of accomplishment and passage of time can be measured by our progress on a particular project.
Cook – Take this opportunity to teach your children how to make their favorite dish, or try inventing a new one. Cooking and baking are great ways to express creativity while also improving a practical skill. Be strategic with your food inventory, using the most perishable items first and then moving on to your frozen and canned foods.
Keep active – Our physical, mental, and emotional health are all improved when we get outside and move around. Even if your situation doesn’t allow for much time outside, there are other ways to stay active. Virtual exercise classes are available at our fingertips, and if you’re lacking in any exercise equipment (i.e., jump ropes, weights, mats), ordering through Amazon is a good way to get what you need while minimizing crowd exposure.
Board games & puzzles – What better way to engage the entire family in a fun, cooperative activity than board games? Now is the perfect time for a Monopoly rematch! Puzzles can be a communal activity or a relaxing solitary ritual; they’re a great alternative to games on our phone as they meet the need for casual solitary brain engagement without overexposing eyes to the blue screen.
Planning & budgeting – Okay, okay…this may not sound very exciting, but carving out time for long-term planning and taking a hard look at the budget is usually such a challenge. While we’re experiencing quarantine, why not take advantage of the down time to reassess finances and strategize for the future?
Self care – Treat yourself to an at-home spa day (you definitely deserve it with all the stress swirling around). Even if it’s just thirty minutes dedicated to self-care, it’s a great time to give your body the attention it needs. After all, we cannot adequately care for others if we don’t first meet our own needs.
Virtual museum tours – This might be one of the most positive, unexpected responses to the current pandemic: “Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 2500 museums and galleries around the world to bring anyone and everyone virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world.” Museums that would normally require you to travel and pay to experience them are now free to the public in the convenience of your own home. You can find links to these amazing virtual tours here.
Family is the heartbeat of Koinonia, and we have seen time and time again the healing power of relational consistency. Even though this pandemic is full of uncertainty, do your best to remain present and embrace the gift of time with family.