Todos estamos comenzando a darnos cuenta de que la vida tal como la conocemos ha cambiado drásticamente. Estamos en guerra contra un enemigo invisible que está causando estragos en nuestras vidas. Las fechas de juego para nuestros hijos, el almuerzo con amigos, un ingreso estable, la iglesia, las clases de ejercicios, la escuela, los deportes, las graduaciones e incluso las compras son inexistentes, canceladas, pospuestas o se ven muy diferentes en este momento. Nuestras vidas han sido interrumpidas de una manera enorme.

Incluso para la persona más espontánea, nuestra forma de vida dramáticamente diferente nos tiene a muchos nerviosos.

“En tiempos de trauma e incertidumbre, estamos estresados, cansados y abrumados”, dice el Dr. Gary Oliver, psicólogo clínico. “Nuestra respuesta típica es” reaccionar “en el momento, lo que a menudo empeora las cosas. Este es nuestro cerebro emocional secuestrando nuestro pensamiento”.

Especialmente durante estos tiempos, Dr. Oliver dice que debemos ser intencionales sobre “responder” en lugar de “reaccionar”.

“En la vida solo hay tres tipos de situaciones: cosas que puedo controlar, cosas que no puedo controlar pero que puedo influir, que es un grupo más grande, pero el grado de influencia probablemente no es tan grande como pensamos, y cosas que están totalmente fuera de nuestro control “, dice Dr. Oliver. “No podemos controlar el brote de COVID-19. Pero podemos estar seguros de lavarnos las manos y distanciarnos de los demás. Si eres una persona de fe, puedes orar. Podemos hacer ejercicio para mantenernos saludables, podemos ser amables y ayudar a otros que son más susceptibles a contraer el virus”.

Dr. Oliver cree que este enfoque en lo que podemos controlar e influir nos ayudará a prosperar a medida que trabajamos para llegar al otro lado de esta crisis. Por cada decisión que enfrente durante este tiempo, Oliver recomienda que piense en la situación como una luz amarilla de precaución intermitente. Todos debemos reducir la velocidad y proceder con precaución. ¿Por qué? Porque corremos el riesgo de actuar de una manera que solo complicará la situación o posiblemente empeorará las cosas.

A continuación, hay algunas acciones específicas que Dr. Oliver recomienda para ayudarnos a enfrentar los próximos días:

Siéntese y haga una lista de todas las cosas que puede “controlar” por completo. Con toda probabilidad, esta es una lista muy corta.

Luego haga una lista de las cosas en las que cree que puede influir.

Finalmente, enumere las cosas por las que no puede hacer nada, y esta es probablemente una lista interminable. Dr. Oliver dice que la mayoría de las veces las personas se sorprenden por la poca cantidad de cosas que realmente pueden controlar. Algunos estudios sugieren que aproximadamente dos tercios de lo que nos preocupa son cosas totalmente fuera de nuestro control.

Ahora, clasifique la lista de cosas en las que realmente puede influir de uno a 10, siendo 10 la más alta. Las cosas al final de la lista son las cosas sobre las que realmente tiene menos influencia. Luego mire las cosas en las que obtuvo cinco o más. Pregúntese: “¿Cuáles son algunas cosas específicas que puedo hacer en estas áreas?” Sus respuestas pueden ser como: puedo estar al tanto de las últimas actualizaciones o puedo practicar un buen cuidado personal.

Hablando de practicar un buen cuidado personal, Dr. Oliver señala que solo somos tan buenos para nuestro cónyuge, hijos, familiares y amigos como lo somos para nosotros mismos. Si no se cuida, realmente puede ser inútil para los demás. Puede quererse a sí mismo y a los demás comiendo bien, descansando, utilizando recursos espirituales si es una persona de fe y haciendo ejercicio.

Cuente tus bendiciones. En tiempos difíciles, es fácil enfocarse en lo negativo en lugar de lo que realmente tiene. Haga una lista de sus bendiciones. ¿Tiene comida? ¿Hay un techo sobre su cabeza? ¿Puede caminar, hablar, ver y escuchar? ¿Tiene personas que le aman y están pendientes de usted? ¿Tiene electricidad, agua corriente y acceso a internet? Tener visualmente su lista es enriquecedor.

Apoye a otros. Pregúntese: “¿Cómo puedo motivar, expresar aprecio, apoyar u orar por los demás?”

Busque maneras de conectarse cara a cara a través de Skype, Hangouts de Google, FaceTime u otro medio. Aunque tenemos distanciamiento social, aún necesitamos relaciones. Los mensajes de texto y Facebook están bien, pero no hay nada que sustituya el contacto cara a cara. Ver la cara de alguien y escuchar su voz es reconfortante y enriquecedora psicológica, fisiológica y emocionalmente. Todos necesitamos eso, especialmente en este momento. El aislamiento es bueno para no propagar el virus, pero el aislamiento de la relación no es saludable.

Préstele atención a sus mascotas. La ciencia del cerebro ahora nos dice que las interacciones con nuestras mascotas pueden reanimar, especialmente en tiempos de crisis.

Cuando las personas sienten que no pueden hacer nada, la ansiedad, el miedo, el desánimo y la depresión los arrastran. Las personas se sienten colmadas con una sensación de impotencia y desesperanza.

Estas sugerencias pueden parecer pequeñas en el esquema de las cosas, pero no son insignificantes.

En cambio, estas recomendaciones pueden ayudarlo a ser más inteligente y tomar decisiones más sabias. Busque la oportunidad de motivar a otros, porque no se trata solo de su propia supervivencia.

Pregúntese: “¿Cuál será mi próximo paso saludable?”

Desayuno. Verificar: Matemáticas del hijo. Verificar: Responder a correos electrónicos. Verificar: Ayude a la hija con la tarea de lectura … Almuerzo … Complete el proyecto para el trabajo … Cena. Verificar Verificar Verificar Verificar

Uf. Este fue un buen día. ¡Lo tenemos todo hecho!

¡Espere! ¡Espere un minuto! Se está perdiendo algo. De hecho, si mantiene este horario, la moral de su hogar disminuirá, la productividad disminuirá y la oportunidad antes de que se le pierda. ¿Cómo sé que se está perdiendo algo?

¡se está perdiendo algo GRANDE! Se está perdiendo la oportunidad de aumentar las habilidades académicas, sociales y emocionales de sus hijos, su capacidad para lidiar con situaciones estresantes y ansiedad. Se está perdiendo la oportunidad de aprender sobre sus hijos o su cónyuge, desarrollar conexiones más profundas y crear recuerdos duraderos. ¿Aún no sabe de lo que se está perdiendo?

TIEMPO DE JUEGO PROGRAMADO Sí. Esa es la cosa. TIEMPO DE JUEGO PROGRAMADO.

Desafortunadamente, es posible que también se esté perdiendo una manera de facilitarse la vida mientras está en casa con la familia en el futuro previsible. ¿Quién no quiere eso?

Esto es IMPRESCINDIBLE. No podemos dejar el juego al azar y esperar que alguien diga algo gracioso mientras almorzamos o mientras trabajamos en matemáticas. No podemos esperar que la persona aventurera de la familia traiga algo de emoción. Y seguro que no podemos minimizar su importancia.

Debemos agregar tiempo de juego a nuestra lista de verificación. ¿Por qué?

1. Comencemos con todas las razones que mencioné anteriormente. No hay necesidad de repetir eso.

2. Aporta energía positiva, creando un ambiente más propicio para el trabajo que sigue.

3. Somos una familia. Construimos la vida juntos. Nos reímos juntos. Lloramos juntos. Jugamos juntos. Sentimos el estrés del otro y la alegría del otro (puedo sentirlo en mi casa cuando alguien está realmente estresado por algo).

4. Cuando jugamos y reímos, nuestro cerebro libera dopamina, una sustancia química que nos permite saber que nos gusta lo que estamos haciendo. Conectamos esa alegría y placer con las personas con las que lo estamos haciendo, lo que nos hace querer repetirlo.

5. Vivimos en tiempos estresantes. La risa es verdaderamente la mejor medicina.

6. El juego fortalece nuestras relaciones.

7. Fortalece las habilidades académicas de los niños. (Sé que lo dije antes, pero vale la pena mencionarlo nuevamente).

Lo entiendo. Usted es el adulto y tiene que ser el responsable para asegurarse de que todos hagan todo su trabajo. Que todo se mantenga ordenado y estructurado. Y si terminamos nuestras obligaciones, jugaremos. Porque jugar es la recompensa por terminar todo, ¿verdad? Además, ¿cómo se verá si son las 10:30 a.m. y estamos jugando y todavía no han leído su tarea de inglés o si todavía no ha terminado ese proyecto? No quiere ser ese padre.

Piense en el otro lado de ser el padre responsable: el padre responsable que ayuda a aumentar la capacidad de sus hijos para lograr un rendimiento académico y mejorar las habilidades de comunicación. El padre que construye la confianza de sus hijos y su sistema inmunológico. El padre que está reduciendo el nivel de estrés en el hogar y creando un ambiente de tarea positivo y enérgico. Eso es lo que está haciendo cuando programa tiempo para jugar y divertirse. Está programando todos esos beneficios, lo que podría facilitar un poco más cada día.

Hay toneladas de listas de formas de jugar. manténgalo simple. Pueden ser solo unos minutos como un descanso de estudio / trabajo o un receso designado de 30 o 45 minutos. Haga lo que haga, no deje de programar tiempo para jugar mientras está en casa. Esto es ser un padre responsable. 

Ideas para jugar en casa:

  • Tome un poco de papel, un bote de basura y comience a acercarse para ver quién puede hacer el tiro. Siga avanzando poco a poco. Añada un poco de estilo. Celebre la creatividad en los estilos de disparo, ya sea que lo haga o no.
  • Toque una canción alegre y baile. Use un sombrero y quien lo esté usando, baila durante unos 20-30 segundos y luego se lo pone a otra persona que luego comienza a bailar. Anime a la persona que baila con el sombrero puesto.
  • Dibuje diseños en el camino de entrada con tiza en la acera.
  • Hacerse pasar por personas, otras personas en su vida o personas famosas. ¡Imitación de personajes!
  • Construya una muralla en la casa usando cojines de sofá, almohadas y sábanas. Luego deje que alguien haga su trabajo escolar / laboral dentro de la muralla.
  • Comience a inventar una historia. Hable durante 30 segundos y luego haga que la siguiente persona siga la historia desde allí durante 30 segundos y luego otra persona durante 30 segundos y siga pasando el turno el tiempo que pueda. La historia puede volverse extravagante, pero ¿a quién le importa?

Mira todas las sonrisas, risas e imaginación que tienen razón de ser. Verificar. Verificar. Verificar.

Journaling isn’t just for school. It can help your kids in a variety of personal ways that can also help you as a parent tune into your kids during this COVID-19 quarantine if they are willing to share their thoughts. Sometimes they will put something into writing that they might not say to you.

Let’s be honest– even with “school,” your kids probably need some constructive things to do anyway. Journaling can fire their imagination, improve their writing skills, and cultivate self-awareness. Plus it can be fun and give you something to start a conversation! Make it part of their daily routine– maybe the first thing they do after breakfast or the last thing they do before bed.

So, take a look around the house– is there an empty composition book or notebook you can put together? Kids love their electronic devices, but I would only use them as an absolute last resort. You can make up the topics, but try to make them as open-ended as possible or add a “Why?” at the end. Of course, keep topics appropriate for your child’s age and interests. Below are a bunch of journal topic suggestions to get you thinking! But to review just a few of the benefits of journaling for your child:

Journaling can:

  • Clarify their thoughts and feelings
  • Help them know themselves better
  • Reduce their stress
  • Give you insight into how they are dealing with our current situation.

Elementary School 

  • List of things that make me happy.
  • I wish I knew more about __________ because….
  • What is something that is important to my family?
  • What has been your favorite thing you learned from schoolwork?
  • My favorite part of last week was…
  • Three things I’d like to talk about.
  • If I could rename the colors of crayons…
  • What I miss the MOST being in quarantine. What I miss the LEAST.
  • What is my favorite dessert and why?
  • If I could create a new creature… [Describe & Draw?]
  • If my dog or cat could talk, it would say things like…
  • I was proud when I __________
  • Five things I’m good at are…
  • If a genie granted me three wishes…
  • If I was in charge of the weather…
  • My favorite holiday is…

Middle School 

  • What would happen if you found gold in your backyard?
  • What would happen if animals could talk? What questions would you like to ask them?
  • If you could have been someone in history, who would you have been? Why?
  • I taught someone how to…
  • You can only take 3 people with you on a trip around the world, who would you take?
  • Oh, no, I’m quarantined and I can’t…
  • If you could give any gift in the world, what would you give and to whom?
  • The house was so quiet, but then I heard…
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • If you received any sum of money as a gift, what would you do with it?
  • Did you ever catch fireflies?  Crickets? Frogs? Snakes? Why/why not?
  • What was your most difficult or most joyous life experience?
  • The BEST/WORST ways the quarantine has affected my family?
  • List one of your pet peeves and write about why it annoys you.
  • What is something that you appreciate about your parents? Why?
  • Write about a window you broke or something valuable you lost.
  • What would happen if it suddenly started raining spaghetti and meatballs?

High School

  • Describe the perfect date.
  • What is courage? What is the most courageous thing you have done?
  • Describe a hero. It can be either someone you know or simply qualities of a hero.
  • What is your favorite activity? Who do you do it with? Why do you think you enjoy it?
  • Write about a good book you’ve read recently.
  • The best and worst parts of quarantine are…
  • What will you do differently when you’re a parent? Why?
  • Do you spend too much time with electronic devices? Why/why not?
  • What do you think should have or should NOT have been invented and why? 
  • List one major world problem and how you think we should solve it.
  • Do you think that there is or ever was life on another planet?
  • What is the most important issue facing teens your age today? 
  • Were you ever given a responsibility that you couldn’t handle? 
  • Describe the best concert you ever attended.
  •  Write about a time you tried to help and ended up making things worse.
  • Did you ever break an important promise?
  • Write about moving to another city or neighborhood or house.
  • Did you ever meet a famous person? Interact with them on social media?
  • Describe a car or bicycle accident you were in.
  • If you could spend a day spent in another country, which would you choose? Why?
  • Describe a time that you out-smarted someone.
  • Write about going shopping for new clothes.
  • Did you ever turn someone in or tell on someone and feel bad about it later?
  • Was there a time your parents embarrassed you.
  • Can you remember a time you gave someone good advice? What was it?

It’s that time of year. The flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing. Your kids are excited about Spring Break. For many, Spring Break is a rite of passage where families travel, spend time together and reconnect. It has been a time to explore your home town with a Staycation, join the extended family at the beach or family cabin, or take your kids to tour colleges (that’s what we do in my house.) 

However, this year is much different than those in the recent past. Now, we are social distancing, dealing with Shelter in Place orders and the nature of self-quarantine.  We finally have a routine and good rhythm around our work and homeschooling. Instead, now it is interrupted by Spring Break.

The purpose of Spring Break is for us to reconnect and spend time together.  We have had more togetherness in the past 3 weeks. I’m not sure if I can handle any more family togetherness. Plus, I have the added pressure that I am not off. I still have to work.  

What am I going to do? I have to keep them occupied but I also have to keep up my work productivity. Are you asking yourself, do they even need Spring Break?  Or does it fill you with anxiety, what am I going to do with them? I still have to work. It’s Spring Break, but no camps, no vacations, no nothing.

Create a plan It’s important to understand that nothing is normal now, including school. But our children have been thinking about Spring Break since Winter Break. Have a conversation with your family. If you have plans to travel, keep your days off and create a Virtual Staycation. If the beach was your destination, bring the beach to you. Get creative. On the other hand, if you have to work, tell your children that you as a family will have to keep some semblance of a routine, but you will create intentional moments of fun.

Have Fun There are a plethora of ideas and activities for families. For my family, we plan to take virtual college tours for my rising senior. If your family likes art, several famous museums are conducting virtual tours. Have dinner and a movie where dinner is themed around the movie that you watch. An added bonus is to allow the kids to help set the menu and/or cook the meal. If work is still on the agenda, make time in the evenings to have some fun. If the evenings are still full, Spring Break it out on the weekends.

Stick with a Schedule Working or not, Spring Breaking or not, it’s important for our children to have a schedule. For them to wake up; go to bed; have meals at a similar time. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but it will help you get back to the new normal of homeschooling and working from home after Spring Break.

This year Spring Break may not be filled with cruises, princesses or well-loved rodents (Mickey). I encourage you to find ways to bring Princesses and Mickey to your home. It doesn’t matter that things are different. Yes, they are. Our children will only be children for a small amount of time. Yes, the days are long, but the years fly by. We should enjoy the time that we have with them. Betcha some toilet paper that this will be the Spring Break they are still talking about years from now. Appraise, Adapt, Achieve.

I see you, mama, sitting in a messy house, filled with dishes from last night’s dinner and laundry piled high. You are trapped in a house during a quarantine and it’s taking everything to not go stir crazy. I see the exhaustion and the exasperation that comes with toddlers running around. Demanding snacks, begging for attention, needing to have what they want, when they want it.  I see you trying, trying to juggle their needs and your work’s needs, and maybe, sometimes, even your own needs. I know that feeling of being stretched so thin, that you’re barely keeping it together. The seams beginning to unravel, slowly then all of a sudden… you’re hanging on by one tiny thread. 

I see the frustration of an interrupted Zoom meeting, the agitation from a plea for yet another snack, the expectation to be completely focused on that work project, and completely focused on caring for your kids. It’s not supposed to be like this. It’s unrealistic to think that anyone could handle the balancing act that all of a sudden we are called to perform. 

So why do you feel like a failure? You know it’s impossible. You know you’re only human. But what about them? What about society? And employers? And family and friends? Yeah… what about them? Everyone needs to adjust their expectations. Including yourself. You are doing the best you can. You are facing the unknown and taking on more than anyone should be expected to. Give yourself grace. 

In fact, give yourself permission to let the dishes sit in the sink a little longer. Make friends with the dust bunnies who have joined your space. Let your kids jump in the piles of clean laundry that still need to be folded. Go outside and take a second to breathe. Feel the fresh air fill your lungs and be grateful for all the things that are going right in your world. And for anything that’s got you stressed or worried or on edge, add “but” onto the end. 

“We’re stuck at home… BUT… we’re SAFE.”

“The house is a mess… BUT… I have a roof over my head.”

“The kids are driving me nuts… BUT… I get to be their mom.”

“Working from home with kids is so hard… BUT… I’m grateful for the flexibility and that I STILL have a job.” 

So, take it one day at a time, mama. This is just a season that you WILL get through. Be mindful. Tell yourself a different story. One of resilience and patience and overcoming obstacles against all odds. You are NOT a failure. You are capable. You are strong. You are amazing, in PJs and all.

After multiple weeks of being told we need to stay home, a lot of folks’ nerves are frayed (parents in particular). Life might have been complicated before – keeping up with schedules, work and home. Now, things seem 10 times more complicated. Everybody is under the same roof all the time with nowhere to go for a break. Many parents are silently asking how long they can actually survive this COVID-19 crisis with their family (and their sanity) intact. 

It is true that most of us are not accustomed to spending so much time together. Things that you didn’t even know got on your nerves, well, now you know. And, some of them are seemingly little things. Maybe it’s the way someone chews their food, the amount of dirty laundry, or the constant questions without answers. Or maybe it’s the way your perfectly capable kids seem so totally dependent on you to do everything.

Honestly, it’s enough to make a parent ask, “Where do I go to resign?”

Before you turn in your notice, here are some things that might be helpful for all of us to consider. 

Emotions are running high for everyone. There is tension in the air and we feel it even if we don’t acknowledge it. It has its way of oozing out of people through petty bickering, short fuses, tears and an abundance of energy. The close proximity to others in your home may feel like someone has you in a stranglehold. 

Even if you are in pretty close quarters, there are some things you can do to help your family avoid unhealthy behavior.

Recognize that your children are taking their cues from you. If you are really struggling with all that is going on, find ways to process your thoughts and best next steps. Even if things are upside down, when you know the next steps you will take, your children will follow your lead. Your children need to know that you are working to ensure they are well cared for. This provides comfort and security, especially in times of uncertainty. It’s ok if you don’t know all the answers. Having rules, rituals, consistency and structure in place helps everyone to know what to expect and provides freedom within healthy boundaries.

Speaking of boundaries, establishing boundaries is helpful. It lets people know where the fence lines are for your family. If you haven’t had a family meeting to discuss what this looks like, now is a really good time to do that. Items up for discussion include:

  • How will household chores get done?
  • With whom outside of immediate family will we engage during this time of social distancing?
  • What time is quiet time in the house? (could be until a certain time in the morning, a period of time in the middle of the day or a time at the end of the day)
  • Where and for how long are people using screens? (for work and for leisure)
  • Is there unlimited access to the kitchen and food?

Getting in the groove of functioning as a team will help your family now. Plus, it will serve them well in the future.

Even though your family is all together, don’t assume they will automatically talk about the thoughts and feelings that are rolling around in their head. This is a scary time for everybody. Establishing a quick daily check-in makes it possible for you to share information and answer questions. It’s also a good chance to talk about the flow of this particular day and address concerns or misinformation anyone may have.

With everyone under one roof, establishing times when you expect people to be in their own space away from everybody else can help. If your children share a bedroom, perhaps there is another location one of them could be. The goal is for people to have a break from being on top of each other. It can be as simple as going outdoors when the weather is nice. Maybe it means taking a long, hot shower or a walk in the rain. It may even help to get up earlier or stay up a little later to have time alone.

What Each Person in Your Family Needs to Know

According to the authors of the Survival Skills for Healthy Families program, each person in the family needs to know:

  • How to speak up and say what they need. The ability to say what you want helps others to know what you are thinking and feeling. It also opens the door for understanding.
  • How to listen. As a listener, we can choose to seek connection, be respectful and look for understanding. Or, we can react, fight and argue. 
  • How to cooperate. Teach your children how to find balance between their needs and the needs of other family members.

Realize that there is a time to talk and time to listen. Everyone wants to feel heard when they speak, so ensure that your home is a safe place for family members to express themselves and discuss things without dismissing them. Acknowledge your feelings, and really listen to work through the emotions you are experiencing. Show empathy and remember that if all this is hard to process as an adult, it can be even more challenging for younger family members to understand or express what they’re dealing with on the inside. Those things will probably show up in how they behave, so it will take some wisdom to dig deeper as you handle misbehavior while helping them understand their emotions.

It is highly likely you will encounter challenges while you are in close quarters. By looking for solutions together, you are modeling how to find answers to other sticky situations down the road. In order for your family to come out stronger on the other side of this pandemic, these are a few safeguards you can put in place now to help keep the peace in your home.

At the start of this year, there was no way anyone would have guessed school would be out, everyone would be quarantined, and spring break would be canceled. And yet, here we are. As a highschooler, how are you supposed to enjoy time off of school when you’re stuck at home either by yourself or with your family?

It all starts with your mind! No matter what, if you’re stuck in the mindset that you can’t have fun because your plans are canceled, then there’s no possible way that you will enjoy the week off from school! BUT, if you choose to do some of these things to transition your mind to thinking positively, you’ve got a much higher chance of actually enjoying your spring break, even if you are stuck at home. Yes, some of these things might seem cliché, but we promise – they work!

To transition your mindset, try…

  • Writing a list of 20 things you’re thankful for. Go beyond your friends or a roof over your head. Dig deep and really think it through.
  • Feeling good about yourself. If that means dressing nicely, doing your hair, getting outside, or video chatting with some friends, do whatever you need to feel confident and content.
  • Closing your door for a second. Even if you can’t actually spend time by yourself (hello, younger siblings), spend a minute stepping away from your phone, Netflix, and/or any other distractions and just breathe for a minute.
  • Don’t blame your parents. Right now, everyone in the world is under a ton of stress and each person is dealing with it in their own way. Your parents are in the same boat, too! This is new and difficult for everyone.

Okay… Now that your mindset is right, here are some great ways you can choose to have fun on this year’s spring break!

  • “Travel” the world. Just because you can’t go anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you can! Recreate the most photographed places in the world out of things around your house. A paper towel roll can turn into the Leaning Tower of Pisa if you try hard enough!
  • Plan a family night. From dinner to games to questions to ask each other, take family night into your own hands! If everyone in your family can’t participate, put together a friend’s night via video call: eat dinner together, watch a movie together, and enjoy a little company.
  • Put together a tutorial. Love doing makeup? Play the guitar? Have a hidden talent (even if it’s making that whistling sound with grass)? Know a few tips for your favorite video game? Put together a tutorial video for your best skill, then share it with family and friends!
  • Plan next year’s spring break. Just because you can’t do it now doesn’t mean it can’t ever happen! Plan a trip with your family or friends to take for next year’s spring break, from where you want to stay to the best restaurants in the area.
  • Teach your favorite TikTok dance. Sure, your mom might not seem super into it. But maybe she’ll give it a try! Teach your parents or your siblings all your favs and then do a group video. Can’t convince them to join in? Have a dance-off with some friends over a video call!
  • Learn something new. Try making cookies you’ve never had before. Teach yourself how to sing (YouTube videos help!). Learn how to make homemade bread. Try a new way to exercise. Write a short story. PRO TIP: start a challenge with your friends to try something new every day, and maybe teach each other what you learned!
  • Break a world record. There are SO many world records out there, and some of them are honestly not that impressive. Try to break one of them, whether it’s the fastest time to put 24 cans in the fridge or the most t-shirts put on in one minute.

Even if your spring break isn’t looking like you had planned, you can still have fun! Use the time you have off from school to know yourself better, know your family better, and know your friends better, too! The opportunities we have right now are unique and once-in-a-lifetime. Don’t waste your spring break wishing your situation was different. Instead, you can choose to enjoy it to the best of your ability!

(also, if you do end up doing one of these activities for your spring break, be sure to tag us at @relatableftf!)

It is fair to say that we are all thinking about money at the moment. Let’s be honest – most of us do not have 6 months, 6 weeks, heck, not even 6 days saved up in our emergency fund.  

These are unprecedented times that we are facing and there is not a great road map out there for how to deal with all these pressures hitting at once. To help you get through this with some financial peace of mind, make sure you and your significant other are on the same page (no hidden accounts or, oops, forgot to tell you about that credit card), everything needs to literally be out on the table.

Start by figuring out what you have coming in and what you have going out. Once you have this down, then start looking at where you might need help.  

I am going to start making some generalizations the rest of the way, but please reach out and communicate your individual situation with all of your financial life connections.

On the banking front, think mortgage, car loans, personal loans, credit cards (yep, all of them) and student loans. Definitely call them before you miss a payment if you can. They also might be able to defer payments – you will still have to make them, but not today. Think about bills that might be auto-drafting and decide if you want to cancel the payment. Your bank is there to help you. Call each and every credit card you have and ask them about how they are helping people during this time.  

A lot of utilities (think about your water, electric, cell phone, internet) want to help but you have to reach out to them. Ask about assistance programs, ask if they will defer a payment or two. Will they provide a wifi hotspot so you can get online access to work from home? Most utilities have suspended cutoffs for the next 30 – 60 days, but still, call them if you are having a hard time making the payment.  

Also please be aware of scams during this time. Please avoid any pay-day or cash advance loans. Call your bank first – they are there to help you. Be careful with “offers” that come in the mail. If it sounds too good to be true, it is!  If YOU can’t figure out a so-called debt relief “program” on a napkin then run for the hills.

If you get laid off or have already lost your job during this time, go file for unemployment. It won’t replace all of your income but it may be just enough to help you stay afloat.  

During these uncertain financial times, please know you are not alone. Reach out to your bank, credit card issuers and utilities early and let them know your concerns. Make sure they know your financial situation so they can help you. Reach out to your friends so they can help and hook you up with other resources. You will get through this – you just might need a little help.

For most Americans life isn’t “business as usual” these days. Smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, COVID-19 has flipped our normal life on its head and conjured up a mix of panic, anxiety, uncertainty and fear. Every family faces unique struggles and obstacles when it comes to creating a new norm with unfamiliar parameters such as social distancing, quarantine and vigorous personal hygiene. But those who have a spouse or loved one working on the front lines, whether they’re physicians, nurses, first responders, childcare workers, truck drivers or the countless other essential workers that keep our country running, the stakes (and consequently, the stress) immediately go up.

My husband Bobby, for example, works as a FedEx Express driver. For him and millions of couriers around the nation, not only is it actually still just business as usual during this pandemic–it’s a crazy whirlwind of employees calling out which creates a shortage of workers. And since we are all at home, ordering our essentials online, there is an increase in packages to deliver as well. For those who take on the extra load, like my husband, it means long hours and late nights. It’s job security at its finest (yay for overtime pay!)… but an awful lot of anxiety for the family he leaves at home every day. 

I’d like to say we have it figured out, but let’s be honest, it’s week 2 of our social-distancing adventure and things seem to be changing every single day. Currently, I’m working from home and watching my two daughters (who are under 5 yrs old). Oh, and I’m 5 months pregnant. Bobby leaves before any of us get up in the morning and is usually home right as I’m getting the girls to bed. That means my day consists of all meals, diaper changes, snacks, naps, playtime, mediating quarrels, kissing boo-boos, calming meltdowns, baths, bedtime, laundry, dishes, washing hands, cleaning/sanitizing and trying to work the best I can at my kitchen table, on my laptop, in the few minutes my children are occupied by Frozen 2 or when they can actually get along and play nicely together. It makes my head spin just typing it out.  

Suddenly, I feel like a single parent and it’s HARD. (Seriously, single parents are superheroes.) Not only is the sheer exhaustion enough to break me, the effort it takes to not let resentment build up or let the anxiety over whether Bobby will become infected and unknowingly bring home the virus weighs like a ton of bricks on my shoulders every single day. So how can we navigate these murky waters? 

Arm Yourself With Knowledge and Safety

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a billion times, but the recommendations from the CDC are imperative to follow. In our unique situation, we’ve struggled to know how far to take it. Should Bobby self-quarantine and sleep alone in a separate room? Should he keep 6 feet away from me and the kids? Should he wear a mask? The resounding answer to all of these questions continues to be, “We don’t know.” In times like these, all we can really do is look at the data we do have and factor in our unique preference and comfort level. Ultimately, decisions like these come down to what works best for your family. 

For our family, the stress of trying to do it all on my own was so much greater than the stress of the possibility of contracting the virus and the uncertainty of how it would affect me during pregnancy. Since we do know that stress has a very negative impact on pregnancy and is not good for the baby, we decided to choose the option that created the least amount of stress for me. I have no other health issues, eat a vegan diet and (try to) exercise regularly. Plus, currently there is no data that suggests that pregnant women are more susceptible or even at a higher risk for severe symptoms if they are diagnosed with the virus. There is also no evidence that the virus affects the fetus in utero. (Sources: CDC, NPR, YaleMedicine)

So, after a very long, emotional conversation, Bobby and I decided that we would follow these precautions:

  • At work, he asks permission to sign for anyone he delivers to, in order to eliminate multiple hands touching his power pad screen and uses hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Upon coming home, he strips down in the basement, throws his clothes in the washing machine and comes upstairs to immediately shower.
  • We sanitize surfaces he’s touched before he showered. 
  • We continue to diligently wash our hands and try really really hard to not touch our faces.
  • We limit physical touch. (No kissing and minimal hugging/touching.)

Of course, if he knowingly is exposed to the virus, we will reevaluate and implement a complete self-quarantine for him at that time. But for now, this is our new routine! It means he still gets to help out with the kids and the household, sleep in the same bed as me and enjoy family time when he’s home. The stress of feeling like a single parent is minimized (at least on the weekends and days when he gets home early.)  

Protect Your Marriage (Especially From Resentment) 

It would be easy to slip into resentment during these times. Working from home and taking care of the kids is no joke. All the stress and anxiety of life is quadrupled and who ends up getting the backlash? Our spouse. Bobby and I have already had our fair share of arguments since this quarantine began, all exasperated by the current circumstances. So we have to intentionally work at keeping our marriage strong and healthy. Some of the easiest ways to do that?

  • Acknowledge each other’s sacrifices: We are both putting forth an extra amount of effort and there isn’t one that is better than the other. Speaking words of affirmation and appreciation for what each of us is doing on a daily basis helps both of us feel seen and cared about.
  • Communicate your feelings: For some people, talking through their feelings comes easier than it does for others, but it’s so important to have that self-awareness and let your spouse know what’s going on inside your mind. (Remember, none of us are mind-readers!)
  • Actively listen to one another: Part 2 of communicating your feelings means that the other person actively listens to you. Passive listening (when someone is listening without really reacting or interrupting) is really just one-way communication and doesn’t make the person talking actually feel heard. Actively listening (when someone responds and shows that they genuinely understand the message being conveyed) creates a safe space that allows both people to connect on a deeper level. It builds trust and respect, especially in the midst of tension. 
  • Remember, you’re on the same team: Fighting against each other instead of for each other can happen in the blink of an eye. Suddenly your argument turns into subtle (or not so subtle) jabs because you know exactly what buttons to push and where your spouse’s Achilles’ heel is. But remember, your spouse is NOT the enemy. COVID-19 is.  

Connect With Each Other Daily

As you read this, we are currently significantly limiting our physical touch. And yes, it’s tough. Bobby’s primary love language is Physical Touch, so it makes it all the more difficult to show that I love and care for him when we are purposefully maintaining our distance. Although it’s not ideal, we both recognize that this isn’t for forever. It’s just a season. And we are determined to get through it together and be stronger for it. So, while we may not be able to touch each other… We can still connect through quality time, conversations, little gifts, notes and meeting each other’s needs the best we can right now. 

The Four Points of Connectedness

There’s this amazing concept I learned and it’s helped our connection tremendously over the past couple of years. According to studies done by relationship researcher Dr. Linda Duncan, there are four powerful points of connectedness between couples during the day. When you are intentional about connecting at these essential times on a regular basis, they can significantly increase the intimacy in your marriage. Yes, please!!

How you wake up.

Figure out a simple, loving way to say “good morning” to each other (it’ll set the tone for how you engage with each other until you part for the day)! If coffee is your love language, it’s a no-brainer.

How you part for the day.

Parting is such sweet sorrow these days, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Take some time to talk about what the day looks like and be sure to leave on a positive note… (“I love you” and “Thank you for working so hard!” are great parting words.)

How you greet each other.

After being apart all day, the way you greet each other when you get home really matters! Even if it can’t be a big hug and kiss, you can still express excitement with a warm smile and a genuine, “I’m so happy you’re home [sappy nickname here]!

How you say goodnight.

When the day is done and you’re ready to call it a night, be sure to first take some time (just the two of you!) to debrief on the day. And even if you aren’t going to bed at the same time, getting “tucked in” isn’t just for the kids! These sweet moments before bed can actually impact how well you sleep that night!  


The bottom line is that having a spouse who is still working during the COVID-19 outbreak adds an additional level of complication and stress into the mix of an already difficult situation. But just remember… this too shall pass. In the meantime, while you’re taking all the necessary precautions to keep your body and house safe, don’t forget about keeping your marriage healthy as well. Eventually, when all the dirt settles and the waters are clear again, it’ll be so refreshing to know that your relationship is even stronger for it!

Conditions are perfect for a Silent Killer to attack our minds, bodies, and most specifically, the emotions within our new culture of social-distancing. That Silent Killer – Loneliness. Let’s understand what loneliness is. Social scientists, as reported by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), define loneliness as “the pain one feels as a result of a discrepancy between one’s social needs and one’s ability to satisfy those needs.” 

Said another way, when our need for connection, interaction, and belonging are unmet and we feel unable to fulfill those needs, that pain we feel is loneliness. Why are the current conditions right for loneliness? 

Edicts such as “social distancing,” “work from home,” “shelter-in-place,” can all set the stage for increased loneliness. Regular activities such as after-work trips to the bar, small group studies, birthday parties, Saturday/Sunday worship are halted. Our places of employment, schools, and civic communities that we are part of, are all places where we often connect and interact with people. These places, where we connect with people who help us feel as though we belong, have closed their doors. 

It’s important that we do not allow ourselves to feel helpless during this time of forced isolation. This is one area where technology can truly help. My son and I have been part of a small group that meets every other week. Last night was the first time we did the meeting online because of COVID-19. It was quite uplifting. 

We interacted with people that we have deep connections with within a community that we belonged to. We were able to laugh, talk and just be known by people who care about us. We decided to increase our meeting frequency from every other week to every week because we realized how encouraging it was for our psyche. Part of the purpose of forming social communities is to help us push through difficult times.

How do we use technology to help us ward off the attack of loneliness? Don’t cancel the coffee dates you have with your friends or the post-work drink you have with your co-workers. Continue with your small group meetings and your marriage double dates with your favorite couple. JUST DO IT ONLINE. Schedule a Virtual Date using Google Meet, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Houseparty or any of the other apps available. 

Phone calls are nice and text messages can be helpful. However, there is nothing that compares to actual face-to-face interaction and what it does for our emotional connectivity. The ability to see the empathy, shared joy, or the heavy anxiety on your friend’s face enhances the connection in ways that emojis and tone of voice can’t quite match. 

Fighting loneliness is not about the number of people you interact with. Shasta Nelson, a healthy relationship expert and author of Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness and Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends doesn’t believe that the answer to loneliness is to go out and make more friends, but to deepen current relationships. It’s being intentional to create opportunities for meaningful interaction within the communities you belong to. And within those meaningful interactions, we must take advantage of the opportunities to connect at a deeper level, to be vulnerable, to be known.

Think about the people in your social community – whether it is family, friends, civic, church, etc. Who do you already have deep connections with? Who do you want to develop deeper connections with? Who are the people that you feel the safest with? We need to feel loved and supported during difficult times. Not only do we need to feel loved and supported, but we must also remember others that are most vulnerable to loneliness as well. Reaching out to those in need is a way to attack our own loneliness.

Nelson suggests that when someone is feeling a deficiency of love and support, “[they should] consider who in their life they would want to build a more meaningful or closer relationship with and then make a list. Start prioritizing those relationships.” There are times when loneliness is at a place where we need to call and get help from the professionals. Don’t feel like you have to win this by yourself. Many professionals are meeting via phone or video conferencing during this period of social distancing.


As we are being intentional about prioritizing relationships, don’t hesitate to meet online for coffee. Schedule a tea using Google Meet. Create a calendar invite for your book club on Zoom. Use Skype for you and your buddies to work out together. Set up a video chat with an elderly neighbor. Create virtual dates within your social community to lessen and hopefully minimize the discrepancy between your social needs and your ability to meet those needs. And while you’re interacting, connect – really connect. Your emotional wellbeing needs it.