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Coping with COVID: School closed, now what?

Stressed? Anxious? Nervous? Overwhelmed? Most of us are at the moment. Our world has quickly become a place of uncertainty between the news, social media, texts and new terms like “flattening the curve” and “social distancing.”  Many parents are adjusting to a work-school schedule that is completely different. This can be unnerving, and anxiety right now is normal.  

However, we have the potential to reframe this experience. Take a deep breath, slow down, and embrace simplicity. You don’t need to rush around to sports, classes, and activities after school at the moment. There won’t be any birthday parties taking up most of your Saturday afternoons, and commitments on your calendar are likely cancelled, freeing up more time for family. Sunnier, warmer days are ahead with more daylight hours coming through the windows of our homes which brightens everyone’s mood. We have the chance to be outside in the fresh air more instead of spending the majority of our days in school or at work . Take this time to slow down the pace of life. Bring it back to activities in nature, imaginative play, and creativity. 

One essential coping strategy when having your schedule interrupted with babies or kids at home is to create your own simple routine. It will give you a sense of control and stability to have a plan for each part of the day. Choose blocks of time for meals, snacks, reading, games, outside adventures, free choice, art, music, and STEAM learning.  Below, you’ll find simple ideas (no screens!) for various ages to incorporate into your new routine. 

Babies

  • read a new book or an old favorite everyday
  • learn a new song to sing, sing it in different variations…a whisper, louder, your normal voice, maybe even incorporate egg maracas or a baby drum
  • take tummy time outside on a sunny day
  • find a local park and take a stroller walk there, maybe one that is new to you
  • take a stroll around the neighborhood and talk to your baby about the sounds you hear, animals you see, smells you smell, colors of nature outside
  • play Peek-a-Boo

Toddler

  • draw or scribble with sidewalk chalk outside…can you make a smiley face? A circle? A portrait of yourself?
  • take a hike or walk on the beach and collect 5 things in a baggie- touch, feel, smell, and talk about each item you collect (moms and dads can do this too!)
  • pick your favorite song and have a dance party, sing along if you know the words
  • blow bubbles outside or even inside on a rainy day and if you are too young to blow then pop them with your finger
  • make a necklace out of pasta noodles and yarn, count the number of noodles you use, use a scissor to cut the string yourself if you are able to
  • ride your scooter, balance bike, or bike for 15 minutes 
  • find a box and color it in to make a spaceship or princess castle
  • play Simon Says or Follow the Leader 
  • create a sensory box with a bin and beans and rice, add a spoon and cup for scooping & pouring
  • ride a bike, scooter, or skateboard for 30 minutes each day
  • separate small pompoms or small pieces of colored pipe cleaners into empty ice cube trays by color

Elementary 

  • use chalk to draw hopscotch or 4 square area in the driveway
  • learn to skip rocks at a local pond, lake or beach
  • create a scavenger hunt to do outside or inside on a rainy day
  • have a picnic outside on a blanket
  • fly a kite 
  • have a hula hoop or jump rope contest
  • keep a journal of what made you happy each day
  • play war (the regular way or +/x)
  • write a letter to a friend or family member and send it snail mail
  • ride a bike, scooter, or skateboard for 30 minutes each day
  • read a favorite book and create a different ending for it
  • paint kindness rocks or shells and leave them around your neighborhood for others to find (also calming for adults)
  • complete a word search or crossword puzzle
  • color in a coloring book

Middle School

  • create your own 30 minute workout and do it… Challenge a parent or sibling to do it too!
  • clean a different area of your room everyday
  • make old school frienship bracelets
  • sit and write a journal entry of how the Coronavirus has affected you and how you feel about it
  • choose a book series you have been dying to read, but have not had the time to because of extra-curricular activities
  • ride a bike, scooter, or skateboard for 30 minutes each day
  • practice individual skills needed for sports you play 
  • bake or cook something you would enjoy eating with ingredients found only in your cabinets
  • write and illustrate your own graphic novel 

High School

  • check in on an elderly neighbor and offer to run an errand if they need it
  • offer to walk a neighbors dog
  • ask for a family recipe and try to make it yourself
  • mow the lawn, pick weeds, and clean up leaves around the house
  • run a mile (or 2 or 3!)
  • practice basic/advanced yoga moves or meditate if you need to clear your head
  • ride a bike, scooter, or skateboard for 30 minutes each day
  • help younger siblings with school work
  • think about writing a rough draft of a college essay for practice 
  • study for the SATs
  • if you have an instrument lying around at home teach yourself to play it
  • do your own laundry, then fold it, and put it all away!

Maybe by the end of these activities you will hear, “Mom, that was really fun! Can we do it again tomorrow?” Sometimes the most simple things have the biggest impact.

Stay calm, remain hopeful, be supportive and compassionate to others. We are in this together and can all do our part.

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