COVID-19 has altered our personal lives temporarily. Schools and many businesses have closed, meaning families are staying home to observe social distancing in the community. To a large extent parents telework from home, meaning they must continue working, regardless of location.

Being together for this extended period of time gives families the opportunity to do things together. But what about the inevitable ‘cabin fever’? Usually cabin fever rears its ugly head if we’re snowed in after a storm, and that confinement lasts just a few days to a week. This quarantine will continue much longer.

Keeping the kids occupied at home is a real challenge! You may be tempted to let them use TV, video games and smart phones hours on end to keep them quiet and occupied while you work. However:

Prolonged regular indulgence in social media and electronic stimulation hinders development of essential pathways for social interaction and interdependence in young developing brains…and brain development isn’t complete until we reach our mid-twenties! If they don’t develop at the correct stage of maturation in children and youth, those budding pathways shrink and go away. A few years down the road, your kids may have difficulty at job interviews or getting along on the job when interacting with other people face-to-face (“Disconnected: How to Reconnect Our Digitally Distracted Kids”, Thomas Kersting, 2016).

Quarantine because of coronavirus will extend at least a month and may be longer, depending on the virus’ spread. That is when families have to be creative and find ways to keep home life at a happier hum by doing things together:

  1. Decide to have a favorite food or meal once or twice a week. Because shopping is curtailed, use caution in how you use your available supplies. Perhaps making popcorn or cookies or fixing homemade hot chocolate will fill the bill!
  2. Schedule the times you check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If you’re a young parent, you may also have fallen prey to absorption with social media and have difficulty socially interacting, even with your own family.
  3. Now is a good time to purposefully intend to do things together as a family:

    –If it’s a nice day, take a walk together through the neighborhood. Still maintaining a distance of six feet from friends you meet along the way, you can check on the status of folks in your community and perhaps identify needs they have where you can help. Your kids will have a first-rate example in participating with you to assist a neighbor!

    –Clean the garage or basement. Projects like this are often long over-due.–Go through closets and weed out clothing, toys, games, etc. that no longer fit or are age-appropriate. Make it a family project. Put together a box of kid stuff to donate to the church nursery or child care room or a family that can use it later.

    –Make something together. Use Youtube or on-line videos to learn a craft, make woodworking projects, tie unique knots, make fishing lures or whatever piques your interest.

    –Work outdoors on your gardens and lawn. Teach your kids the difference between garden plants and weeds! The fresh air will strengthen your immune system and provide a physical outlet for your pent-up energy.

    –Read a good book together. If you don’t have a print book on hand, download an e-book app and find either free e-books or buy them on-line for your computer or smart phone. Take turns reading aloud to the rest of the family or be the primary reader, but do it together!

    –Draw or paint pictures or even redo a piece of furniture you’ve been putting off rehabbing. Make it a family project! Working with you will enlarge your kids’ scope of skills and interest.

    –Write letters to friends and family members. This art is almost lost, but not all folks have a computer or smart phone. A personal note in the mail can bring lots of joy to someone you care about. Make your own stationery if you don’t have note cards on hand. Let your kids design notecards you use!

    –Play board games together. Not on-line, but from a box! Scrabble, Candyland, Clue, maybe checkers, chess—learn how to play on-line if you must, but then work at becoming champs together!

    –Solve a jigsaw puzzle with 1000 pieces! Let it be your on-going project with everyone contributing…or at least trying to!

    –Bake a batch of sugar cookies the kids can decorate with frosting and sprinkles. Give prizes for the most original design. The prettiest, the funkiest—you decide!

    –Read the Bible and pray daily together! Ask God to bless your family and help you walk pleasing to Him. Ask God to bless our leaders as they decide what to do to protect us. Ask God to turn our nation back to serving and honoring Him!

    –Memorize a Bible verse a day! Post them on the refrigerator or family bulletin board. Learned early, your kids will remember the Word into their futures.

While the list isn’t exhaustive, it may get your juices flowing to make COVID-19 quarantine a pleasant memory in a few weeks. In the meantime, capitalize on the inconvenience and have fun as a family…and thank God for the opportunity!!

— Posted by Tom Salmon for Doris, a fellow member of the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance

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