A Weird Time for Good Memories
by Virginia Forste
In times of struggle, it helps to find the humor in a situation. Since St. Patrick’s Day arrived amidst the outbreak, my favorite Coronavirus meme reads: “Kiss Me Wave to me at least 6 feet away, I’m Irish!”
I see our nation is taking this crisis seriously now. Some of us are struggling much more than others. I find myself in a very fortunate set of circumstances: I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband usually works from home. I’m hoping you can find a way to incorporate at least one or more of the suggestions below into your routine as we navigate this strange terrain.
Self-Care for Moms
Mamas, let’s begin by putting on your “oxygen mask” first, just like you do on the airplane. Getting control of your thoughts and attitude will help you parent (and teach) from a confident and steady place. Here are five practical tips for you personally.
- Read your Bible
This quarantine is clarifying. We know we need Jesus and his ever-present help and yet, our spirits might be reluctant. It’s time to act like big girls and open that dusty Bible anyway. We need to immerse our minds in Truth. Last week I checked my news app right before falling asleep. Big mistake! I began having heart palpitations and a tight chest. Immediately I opened my Bible app instead. Set an alarm to only check news updates twice a day.
Can you find 15 minutes to break a sweat? Get those endorphins pumping to combat the blues. Spiritual forces would love nothing more than for us to sink into a deep spiral of negativity and confusion. We have to actively combat this, so go get active!
- Seek God First
Fill in the blank with this easy prayer, brought to you by Max Lucado: “Dear Father, You are good. I need help with ____. They need help with _____. Thank you for _____. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
- Build in Your Own Rest and Chore Time
You can say yes to safe technology. Even taking 20 minutes to do the dishes while the kids are watching TV will help you not feel like you’re drowning at 8 pm when everyone finally goes to bed and your brain has turned to oatmeal.
- Get Help!
Call, FaceTime, or text a friend. I’m really into podcasts when I’m looking for experts in a particular field. Kirk Martin has a podcast called “The Calm Parenting Podcast” and he’s doing a series of episodes all about how to parent during this crisis. His strategies are valuable even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. Another of my current favorites is the “The Next Right Thing” podcast by Emily P. Freeman. That one is about making decisions.
Thriving with Kids
If you take care of yourself during this time, you will be more equipped to take care of your family. Here are five practical tips for doing so.
- Create a Rough Schedule
Anxiety is brought on by the unknown, so make sure your kids know what’s going to happen throughout the day. I’ve seen a number of moms printing daily calendars and posting them on their refrigerator for all to see. I would suggest these three guidelines: 1. Be done with a strict schedule by 4 or 5 pm. 2. Sprinkle free time throughout the day. 3. Make weekends different than weekdays.
- Incorporate Connection
My kids are young (ages six and four); they don’t really miss their friends yet. Find ways for older kids to stay connected such as online games with their friends or Facebook messenger and FaceTime. In fact, why not bring back old-fashioned letter-writing from your youth? Encourage them to make up a fancy code for their friend to solve. Everyone loves getting snail mail!
- Prioritize Fresh Air
Find a way to get outside. Break out the raincoats and rain boots. Kids can play in the rain, do yardwork, and run up and down the driveway, play soccer or basketball, and wash the car—especially when it gets warmer.
- Prioritize Spirituality
No need to overcomplicate it. Find a reading plan for kids on the YouVersion Bible app, such as Louie Giglio’s “Indescribable” or “Priceless: Who I Am When I Feel . . .” by Jen and Linda Barrick. Watch a VeggieTales show. Our church can get you a free account for Right Now Media which has many resources for kids. Check out ourchristschurch.com for information about our online worship service.
- Consider the Four
Your child has four main types of needs: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Trying to meet needs in each of these areas daily may help you feel productive and your kids feel important. Out of time? Consider how you can easily meet these needs: feeding dinner (physical); playing a card game (mental); spending a few minutes chatting while they prepare for their bath or shower (emotional); and praying with them at bedtime (spiritual).
When You Need Cheap
Here are six concrete ideas to fill your days:
- Pack a Picnic
Eat anywhere other than where you normally do. I like to put on a movie and picnic in the living room.
- Have a BBQ at Your House
Or a taco bar. Or a chili bar. Or scrambled egg bar. Anything that can involve a variety of toppings will be a hit. Picky eaters unite!
- Have an Egg Hunt in Your Yard
So it’s not Easter yet? Just because the White House has cancelled its annual Easter Egg Roll doesn’t mean you can’t have your own. Get big kids involved in the hiding or just throw an armload out in the yard. Hard-boiled eggs lost their novelty? Toss a bunch of real coins out there to add to their give/save/spend jars (money will be deducted in the result of black eyes.)
With younger children, use easy and quick recipes like ice cream in a bag (find recipe here) or bake banana bread or cookies. If your children are older, teach them to meal plan. In the book, Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her House of Youth Entitlement, the author had each of her children plan an entire meal from start to finish. Meal planning doesn’t need to be a struggle when you’re an adult if you’ve practiced for years as a kid or teen. Give them this gift!
- Make Bird Feeders
Check out a fun recipe for making birdseed ornaments here. Then, once you hang the ornaments outside, you can help your children identify the different species of birds that visit your home.
- Relive Your Camp Days
Use puffy paint on shirts or create friendship bracelets.
When You Need Free
Here are six more suggestions for keeping your family occupied during this time of “sheltering in place”:
- Throw a “Pantry Party” for Dinner
I heard this tip on a Frugal Friends podcast episode. Offer a variety of “dishes” that only contain items from the pantry or fridge. Sure, you might have applesauce, ramen noodles, and oatmeal cookies, but the weirdness makes it fun.
- Get Artsy
Fill water guns with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Lay white drawing paper on the lawn (or in the bathtub) and spray away.
- DIY Play-Doh
There’s a great recipe here.
Get your kids involved in donating their toys. This season provides us the opportunity for teaching some great lessons on things like sharing and giving thanks to God for all he has provided.
- Make Your Own Family Time Capsule
Check out a tutorial like this one for what to include. Hide the “capsule” in the attic or basement. Open it in one year and see how times have changed.
- Build a Boat Contest
Each family member is to collect items from your recycling bin (or the bottom of his closet!), and build his or her own boat. Take turns seeing which masterpiece is the most seaworthy by floating the entries in the bathtub or an inflatable pool. Every participant gets a popsicle!
None of us asked for this pandemic to grab the world by its throat but we can redeem the time, and make some memories with our families that they will never forget.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT).
Virginia Forste is a former elementary education teacher and stay-at-home mom who frequently blogs with other moms at textingthetruth.com.