“How to survive a pandemic with young boys.” Boy that sounds dramatic. But the truth is that’s what we may feel like we’re doing…just “surviving”. What about living? Really living? Is that even possible right now? I say it is. In fact, in some ways I feel like we as a family are living more now than we were before. In some ways (definitely not in ALL) we’ve enjoyed this time. How has it not driven us crazy? Here’s an update on how we’ve been doing life since school was suddenly sent online, stores were shut down, and we weren’t able to see friends and family other than through a screen.
We realized early on that it would be all too easy to fall into a pit of feeling sorry for ourselves (we even had some of those moments). We missed our friends, our family, our life. Then we started doing something important: we started making it a point to find the good in our days. Sometimes it was something small like finishing all the laundry. Other times it was something more substantial like getting to see my sister and brother-in-law on our front porch for Easter.
Not only did I write these down for myself and for our family, but I also shared them on my personal Facebook page. It helped not only to think of those moments, but also to share them with others who might need a bit of cheering up as well. It was a way to “be a light” to those around us when not many people were physically around us, and it was how we were able to survive the pandemic on some of those grey, sad days.
Acknowledge the Bad
Nearly a month after we started listing our positive things for the day, I read something about acknowledging the things we’ve lost. We found it was good not to just ignore those things that we were missing out on. Writing them down was therapeutic. Some things were little like giving hugs to other people. Others were bigger like not having our normal birthday parties. It helped us and the boys acknowledge that it’s okay to be sad. We don’t have to always put on a happy face.
Consistency: Keep a Schedule
We found that keeping a schedule helped to keep us sane especially when doing distance learning/online school. A schedule kept our days consistent which is always a good thing for kids (but especially ours). They, and we as parents, knew what to expect every day which made for fewer surprises and upsetting moments.
Whether it’s a schedule for school, summer time, or some other time, be sure to work in fun things and down time. We found the boys were much more motivated to get through the not so fun stuff if they had something fun to look forward to at the end of the day like screen time.
Put the schedule up for everyone to see. Our schedule would change depending on the school work for that day, so I wrote it all out on a white board in fun colors. Many times I would update the schedule during breakfast, or the boys would check it out during breakfast. This served as a sort of “morning meeting” to help us prepare for the day.
We didn’t always do a schedule during the summer months, but we did continue it at first in the summer. A summer schedule helps keep our days from spiraling into chaos. We found there can be less fighting even with a loose schedule. Take note of that term: “loose” for the summer schedule. Sometimes our schedule goes out the window, and that’s okay too.
Find Things to Look Forward To
There was one day in particular that most of us were feeling pretty down. Jeremy cheered us all up by thinking of things we could look forward to that week. Before we knew it, we were all pitching in with ideas and writing them down on a chalkboard.
If you can’t think of something to look forward to, plan something! One thing we really started to look forward to was ordering pizza every week. That was something we rarely would do before, so it became a nice end of the week treat every Friday night. Here are some other ideas:
- Watch a show that plays live on a certain night (ours was Survivor).
- Plan a movie night or night to stream a certain show.
- Plan some kind of activity like a water fight (we planned a snowball fight when we knew it was supposed to snow).
Fresh air is like medicine for your mind and soul…not to mention your body; it’s sure to help you survive this pandemic and stay sane Go for a walk around the block. Pick a new route to ride your bikes. If you’re able, go for a hike. This hike we took before the pandemic was so much fun and a good example hiking close to home here in Colorado.
Check out our latest video of a hike we did before all this pandemic craziness. Oh yeah, it was also before the boys were growing mullets in earnest (see some of the progress here and here). It’s hard to believe it was nearly a year ago!
Give Time for Quiet
Quiet? All I have is quiet. We aren’t DOING anything! But that’s not quite what I mean. We were all stuck at home…TOGETHER which meant that we weren’t getting those sometimes much needed breaks from each other. Those times (especially in a house full of introverts) are important. Our pastor said something one day about “reading the room”. Everyone might not feel like playing 10 board games in a row. That’s okay. Let that person or those people have some space. Acknowledge when you need to take that space for your own sanity and don’t feel guilty about that.
Do a Project (or two or three)
More time at home has given us the opportunity to work on some projects around the house, and the boys have actually enjoyed helping (for the most part). I’ll admit yard work is not their favorite activity, but they’re learning valuable skills, spending time with us, and getting a little exercise too! The projects have kept us a little busier and helped us feel like we’re accomplishing something…even when we’re just at home.
I’d say one of our favorite things to do now is for me to read to the boys. They may color and build LEGOs while they listen or occasionally just sit quietly. It’s helping them appreciate reading more and giving us an opportunity to do something together without too much stimulation. Pick a fun series and read it together. Getting lost in another world can help you escape for a while; call it a little mini vacation to help you survive the pandemic. Here are some of our favorites:
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Magic Tree House
- The Secret Zoo (we’ve read the first two books)
- Dragon Masters
Spend Time With God
Maybe this goes without saying for some, but I think it’s important to mention that nothing and no one can help you survive this pandemic or any pandemic like God can. God is our resting place. It is in Him that we find and regain our strength. Without Him, facing each day would be so much more difficult. I find that my days and weeks are so much better when I make sure to spend even just a little time with Him. When in doubt, just sit and talk to Him. He’s always listening.
Here are some of my favorite resources for devotions and Bible studies:
- The Bible App (check out their daily stories)
- Right Now Media
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Jesus Calling for Kids
Though I certainly wouldn’t say this pandemic has been “fun”, I will say that we have learned and grown a lot through it all. The boys have developed a bond and friendship that they didn’t have before. Yes, they still fight and argue, but we marvel at how well they do together. We’re so thankful that they’ve become such good friends.
We continue to take this journey week by week, day by day, and sometimes hour by hour, but we know that with God’s help we’ll get through it. Not only will we survive this pandemic, but God can work through it to help us grow. We see Him working in our life and giving us strength in the day to day. Our hope is always in Him.