No one prepared for this - but here we are quarantined to our homes, forced into homeschooling and scrambling to fill our homes with all the essentials we regularly take for granted - do you have enough toilet paper? I asked my college girlfriends for some advice and came up a list of 12 ways to thrive and make memories during quarantine - because there is hope and this time can actually be productive and memorable. We can all do this - one day at a time.
Change is not easy. Human beings are creatures of habit and this virus has changed so much for all of us. Although this quarantine is not ideal, there can still be a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. My college girlfriends and I have a group text and I asked them this morning - "What are you all doing to stay sane during this quarantine?" My friend Heather's response is my favorite:
"Red wine, white wine, coffee with Bailey's, white claw, beer, moonshine, vodka/tonic, CBD oil, grown-up brownies, ice cream and long walks - is how I plan to survive this quarantine!" She was joking, of course, yet, we all tend to fall on these crutches during time of stress and extended time with our children!
Quarantine takes us back to the basics. As a psychologist and health coach, I work with clients about their "needs" and their "wants." This time of quarantine takes us back to what we really need, forces us to look at all the things and services that might be fun but not really necessary right now. All of this time at home is making parents scramble to "entertain" their kids. Instead, why don't we use this time to mentor our children on life skills, chores, the importance of time management, budgeting, the outdoors and the importance of prayer - even when church is closed.
If you have ever taken a psychology course, I bet you studied Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow states that needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. When these basic "Deficiency Needs" are not met, the "Being or Growth Needs" are harder to attain. So, in today's world, more people are scared - basic needs are being challenged - therefore, we have to work that much harder to take care of our growth and development. Read here for a more detailed description.
Quarantine forces us to slow down. Our culture is work, work, work and activity, activity, activity. Parents are scrambling to homeschool and "entertain"their kids. It is not easy but maybe we can use some of this time to just be present.
Quarantine forces us to think of the bigger picture. These last couple of weeks have shown us all how quickly life can change. This virus has showed us how dependent we all are on imported goods, teachers, health and hospital staff (THANK YOU!) and first responders.
This too shall pass. God willing we will look back at this time of quarantine and remember that yes, it was not ideal, but a lot of good did come out of it. Have faith. Now, go make some memories.
Here are my 12 ways to thrive and make memories during quarantine:
1. Put on real clothes every weekday morning - When I say "real clothes," I am saying change from pajamas to yoga pants. If you want to put makeup on, do your hair and possibly even put pants on without elastic, I bow down to you. The point is to get dressed every. single. weekday. morning. You will feel better. I promise. Saturdays and Sundays? Stay in pjs all day if you want.
2. Put music on in the house - I grew up in a house with music on 90% of the time. Bad mood? Put on music. Kids fighting? Put on music. Use this time to expose your kids to all the classic music you listened to as a kid! If you can, find 30 minutes you can put your head phones on and take a walk by yourself. Music + alone time = sanity for me!
3. Get outside - Stay home. Yes. However, the CDC is saying it is OK to get outside as long as you keep your distance from others. (Also, go to the CDC website for your info instead of social media!) Use this time at home to exercise outside. Use this time to create some new routines. I bet your yard needs some attention. Teach your kids how to pull weeds, pick up sticks (my dad always made me do this!), pick up all the dog poop (someone has to do it!), or play a family game of basketball.
4. Keep your social circle - It is easy to stop talking to people as much during this time of quarantine but we need social support even more now! For work, try to do video calls to keep that face-to-face interaction. My colleague Chris just talked about the importance of this on his FB page. Check it out here. See if you can still have a session with your therapist over the phone instead of in person. Have your kids write your parents a letter in cursive writing. How much would grandma and grandpa LOVE that? Ask them to write a letter back and your kids will get some mail. Connect with your true friends who make your life better, more fun, who make you laugh, who give you a safe space to vent and let out your fears. Call them. Skip the texting. They want to hear your voice.
5. Refinish a piece of furniture or paint something - There is something very satisfying about home improvement projects and I bet you have been meaning to do one around your home. Now is the time sista!
6. Turn off the TV during the day - We have a rule of "No TV before 4pm." I know it sounds harsh but surprisingly it works for all of us. It prevents me from having the news on all day - which is depressing and doesn't help my mindset at all. Plus, the kids don't ask me every 20 minutes, "Can I watch a show?" When the TV is off there are less distractions, we all get more done and my music can be on! Don't worry, there is plenty of shows with the kids at night and Netflix once they go to bed!
7. Focus on healthy stress management techniques - Yes, this time is stressful. I am seeing so many posts online and on social media about how much alcohol, ice cream and other junk food is being consumed. Sure, let yourself have a treat but remember a treat is not supposed to be the majority of your food. Remember your goals. When this quarantine is over, do you want to be 15 pounds heavier? Summer time is around the corner - virus or not. One thing that helps me is having set times of the day when we eat meals and have snacks. "Look at the clock instead of the cabinets."
8. Organize and purge - Organize your time and organize your home. Sure, you will not follow a schedule every single day but it is good for you and for your kids to know what is expected of them throughout the day. If you let them wing it, I bet you will get frustrated! Sit down and write a rough idea of a daily schedule WITH your kids. Give them the chance to have a say in it. I bet they will be better at following it that way. I am sure you have too much stuff. We all do. Sit down with your family and make an "Awesome if it gets done" list. Use this time to purge all the extra stuff in the basement. Organize photos into photo albums. Hook up your phone to a slideshow and sit down as a family and look at pics, tell stories, and laugh! Use thredUP - they send you pre paid bags in the mail and you can schedule pick up by your regular mail carrier. Want to donate? Many organizations even pick up donations at your home. Anyone else have a ridiculous collection of gift bags and tissue paper? Organize them. Have too many? Donation centers will take these items too.
9. Learn something new in the kitchen - Want to learn how to make your own bread? Want to make your mom's famous apple pie? Want to teach your kids how to make my Real Food Pumpkin Cinnamon Pancakes? Tonight, I am teaching my oldest how to make my Grandma's Spanish Rice. Since so many bars and restaurants are closed, this is a good time to learn how to cook. If you do buy take-out food, support the local restaurants! They need our support.
10. Capture this time in a journal - My oldest, Madilyn (age 10), is writing a journal about this time at home. She is using her Polaroid camera and capturing photos as well. My friend has this amazing weekly journal full of to-do lists.
11. Help someone in need - Maybe your neighbor is elderly and needs groceries? Offer to go instead. Know I new mom who just had a baby? Make her these cookies and drop them off on her porch.
12. Practice gratitude - Sure, things are not ideal but alot of people still have it worse that you, me or my college girlfriends. We still have a lot to be grateful for.
These days will come and go. Always remember that your kids love you and think you are totally awesome. Just keep going. Don't let your kids turn themselves into toilet paper mummies.
Remember, that this too shall pass and I bet we will have some good stories for our grandkids someday.
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