Several months ago I read Susan Meissner’s novel As Bright As Heaven, set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. It was a period of history I knew little about, and the social impact Meissner described in the story both fascinated and horrified me. I remember thinking, wow, I’m so glad that was then and not now.
Surreal, right? Apparently the planet is still capable of halting all normalcy in 2020. I’m feeling it, I know you’re feeling it, we’re all feeling it. To some degree or another, every mom in America is wondering how Costco could sell out of Lysol so quickly and—how in the world are we going to keep our kiddos occupied for the duration of these mandated school closures?
Regardless of our individual opinions on the state of the nation right now, there’s one thing we all have in common.
We love our kids. And we want them to be safe.
So whether you’re embracing the family time (my daughter’s seventh-grade class is calling it “corona-break”) or climbing the walls, let’s make this social distancing experience as positive as possible under the circumstances. Here’s how.
1. Adopt God’s viewpoint. Coronavirus is no surprise to Him. And He is still—always—in control. Some great articles that have pointed me to God’s heart in recent days include this one in Relevant magazine about how we can practice the command to love our neighbor, and this one from the Gospel Coalition about tips for talking to our kids about the virus.
2. Fill your mind with good things. In this unprecedented season of fear and uncertainty, lean on God’s invitation to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and to focus on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8). That might mean turning off the media for a while and soaking up a good book that points you to Jesus (including, of course, your Bible). Along the topic of loving your neighbor, my book Generous Love is currently free on Kindle. Also, A.W. Tozer’s 365-day devotional on the Holy Spirit is only 59 cents, and Ruth Schwenk’s new devotional for moms called Settle My Soul: 100 Quiet Moments to Meet with Jesus is $9.99 on Kindle but you can get a $7.49 credit when you buy it. And then of course there’s the library. Ours is now closed for the duration, but thank God for e-library books, amen?
3. Be kind to yourself. Going a little batty with the kids all up in your space? Remember it’s their space, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still give yourself a break—at least emotionally if not physically. Read all about that here.
4. Embrace the Internet. Now is the time to take advantage of all the interwebs have to offer. Here are a few of the best resources I’ve heard about so far:
- Scholastic launched a new Learn at Home site, created just for the coronavirus shut down.
- A new daily newsletter from PBS Kids focused on activities kids and parents can do from home. Sign up for that here.
- Mo Willems (creator of Elephant and Piggy and the Pigeon books) is hosting a daily doodle-with-me video at noon CST for the next two weeks. Learn more here.
And from one mom to another, check out these tween/teen-friendly YouTube channels:
- Studio C – clean and hilarious comedy sketches
- Moriah Elizabeth – a spunky 20-something crafter known for her squishy makeovers
- Dude Perfect – trick shots and all things sports by a group of entertaining Christian guys
- Rosanna Pansino / Nerdy Nummies – creative baking and lifestyle videos
- My Froggy Stuff – how to make accessories for Barbies and American Girl dolls
5. Reinstate the family meal. Remember dinner time? When all the people sat around the table together and talked and maybe even laughed and had an extra ten minutes to linger for dessert? No, this is not only a phenomenon reserved for Thanksgiving. With no activities to run off to and a fridge full of food hoarded from the grocery store, it’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your family over a home-cooked meal and conversation. Read about one of my favorite dinner table activities here.
6. Squash the squabbling. If you’re drowning in sibling bickering, I’ve got a solution for you. Right now I’m offering my 20 Questions and Activities to Help Siblings Get Along guide for free. When you download it here, you’ll also get a special offer for my Bible study for parents and siblings called Let’s All Get Along. Included is a pretty cool bonus—FREE access to my brand new video series, The 5-Day Cranky Mom Challenge, which, let’s face it, we’re all going to need before this housebound madness is done.
7. Play! Oh my GOODNESS mothers, we will all go nuts if we don’t get some energy out these next few weeks—kids and parents alike. So dig out those board games, shoot hoops in the driveway, take the dog for a family walk (keeping appropriate distance from other walkers if needed), kick a ball in the back yard, dance in the living room! Watch movies! Eat popcorn! Do all the stuff we don’t have time for when school and extracurriculars and meetings constantly demand our margin. Check out my Amazon lists of favorite family games, movies, books, crafts, you name it. Let the truck come to you, my friends.
8. Finally, remember compassion. Isolation, missed milestones, and cancelled dreams are painful. Last week my sweet niece was in spring training for what looked to be the best run of college softball her school had seen yet. When the team learned Friday that their season was cancelled, they were crushed. (And so were the parents. And the aunties.) And you know that? That’s OKAY. It’s a normal reaction. We shouldn’t dismiss people’s disappointment or label them selfish for reeling over a postponed wedding, cancelled championship, or thwarted vacation plans. Expressing sadness is healthy and honest and not synonymous with complaining or lacking perspective. So let’s all add a dash of compassion to our obedience even as we pull up our bootstraps for the greater good, amen?
One thing is certain. God has a purpose for this shut down. He saw it coming (obviously) and He will see it through. I mean seriously, the whole thing is so beyond weird, only He can truly understand what in the world is going on—and why. So let’s trust Him.
And play a LOT of board games.
Much love from my house to yours,
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