The effects of COVID-19 are undeniable and reverberate within each and every home. While we cannot see the virus itself, change is evident and has impacted us in many ways. It may appear that we have lost freedoms, but we also have gained new opportunities. This is how some families are taking the lemons of a pandemic and making lemonade out of this experience.
The coronavirus has brought many changes, largely due to social distancing of at least six feet. Classrooms have now changed to online classes. Playdates are now conducted on Zoom. Summer plans of going to the beach, family vacations, summer camps and hanging out at the community pool are postponed or cancelled. Sports activities have been delayed. Going out to dinner with the family is also put on the back burner. And, some of the most heartbreaking losses are the hugs and smiles from family and friends, especially from grandparents. Abstractly, we have all suffered a loss of innocence and freedom.
Conversely, COVID-19 has paved the way for new opportunities. Many parents are experiencing the joy of slowing down, finding teachable moments and enjoying dinner together. Having plans for the day are important to maintain structure and routine, which help reduce anxiety and uncertainty.
Amy Thurston was an elementary teacher and is incorporating her experience and love of education into her daily activities. “After we get up, have breakfast, do our devotions, then we start schoolwork around 9 a.m. After a couple of hours, we have lunch. The afternoon is very special. We go outside for science, arts and crafts or P.E.” Her family now has a new chance to cherish activities and learn together.
“This is a unique opportunity to regroup with your kids and help them understand what is important,” Kimberly Mann explained. “It’s nice to be able to refresh in the simplicity of no expectations. There is no pressure of what to wear and who the kids are friends with. There is no drama. There is no rushing around shuttling kids to and from activities.”
She continued, “I really enjoy having extra moments to teach my kids things, such as baking, cooking, gardening and fishing, and they love to go hunting with their dad. I can teach them how to make a meal without feeling rushed or show them how to put a worm on the line instead of just doing it to get it done. One of my favorite things is morning time, when we read and discuss the Bible. It has been such an amazing way to start our day and keep the kids rooted in their faith.”
According to Leila Frandsen, “We get up, shower, make the beds and do morning devotionals. After schoolwork, we spend some time exercising. This routine creates a basis of how the rest of the day will go.”
How have parents created adventures to inject a sense of fun? Many have placed teddy bears in their windows, an idea inspired by “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” by Michael Rosen. Children then wander from house to house to count the sightings. Chalk art for hopscotch and uplifting messages decorate many sidewalks and driveways. A pop phenomenon is Front Porch Family Portraits. Some neighbors have painted inspirational words on rocks and left them around the neighborhood, creating kindness rivers and treasure maps to inspire others.
Enjoying the outdoors has created a new sense of freedom and fun. Camping out in the backyard, Slip ‘N Slides, fishing, bike rides, going on walks and tossing corn bags are just a sampling of activities that bring the family together.
Ever hear the words, “I’m bored”? Many parents have created a boredom jar filled with notes of chores that need to be done. Others have created scripture jars filled with notes of faith and hope. Having something to do helps keeps everyone engaged.
Amid this turmoil, parents are realizing the significance of using this time to teach their children valuable life lessons and how to stay rooted in times of uncertainty.
Mann noted, “As parents, we are doing the best we can do. We realize that some don’t have meals, jobs or the basics. We realize our blessings and want our children to appreciate them, too.”
One noticeable difference is that social distancing impacts the ability to connect with others. Leila Frandsen reaches out and initializes saying “hello” when out and about. She enjoys bringing a smile to someone’s face. “This is affecting everyone differently and I realize how blessed I am. Many have suffered extreme loss. If I can brighten their day, I will do my best,” she said.
Thurston focuses on the positives. “This has caused us to pause. We have embraced new ways to connect and stay healthy and be there for our children.”
It’s imperative that we look for ways to make sweet lemonade from sour lemons during this experience. COVID-19 is a massive disruption to our daily activities. And, as with life, more challenges are sure to come. But we are realizing this is an opportunity to connect and teach valuable lessons to our children. We should also take a moment to embrace these lessons ourselves.
By Juli Kaplan