Hello friends. How are you? It’s been over a week since our world shifted into a complete state of uncertainty & social distancing became our new norm, and as a parent and citizen, I’ve felt the full range of emotion of what it feels like to be human right now. BUT, being of service and spreading light seems to be helping keep my spirits high, and giving you guys some ideas on how to navigate these uncertain times & preserving your sanity seems like the right thing to do today (this post has taken me 3 days to write…focus is tricky, thanks for stopping by).
So, here are some of the family resources for uncertain times we’re focusing on, but if I’m being completely transparent, how we’re managing shifts hour by hour, day by day in consideration of the kids’ emotional temperatures and needs alongside our own as their parents. An overall family wellness approach, if you will. I hope you find these suggestions useful as we all adjust & improvise during unprecedented times. But really, whatever’s good for your mental health is good for all, so do that 🙂 “10 Ways to Ace Parenting during a Pandemic…” is not the pressure any of us need right now. Less is more & simplifying is how we’re rolling with the Covid-19 times…including these:
a) Adults: I openly shared how my mindfulness practice is where I’ve leaned in while navigating the muddiness of life, and turning to these tools has certainly peaked over the last week. Especially when faced with things we can’t control, I do know that I cannot be a pillar to my kiddos if I can’t find my own calm & centre in spite of it (hence why this one comes 1s). Whether a new or seasoned student of mindfulness, I think you’ll find these tools helpful as they’re made for easing the nervous system when external forces are rattling it. In addition to the tools I share above, I’d also suggest subscribing to Thrive Global – they have amazing resources for how to embrace & ease into working from home, how to deal with extreme stress & anxiety, digital wellness & more. Keep Calm, Parent On…
b) Kids: no doubt with all the changes that came fast & furious the kids were emotionally impacted in some way. We’ve got various responses among our own crew, but I do know kid-focused mindfulness tools are helping. Tania Joy’s book “The Affirmation Station” as always been a favourite read for us, and now she’s offering her colouring for calm resources FREE too. I subscribe to the Calm app, and was happy to see they’re offering FREE resources to all, including bedtime stories & Calm Kids activities for our babes. We also love the FREE #FromFeartoHope download from our friends at Other Life Lessons to help us honour our kids’ fluctuating feelings (including being a bit scared) and support their mental health through the pandemic.
Let’s Get Physical
We all know getting the blood pumping is an instant feel-good trigger, so we make a point of getting that into our days. All of our kids extracurriculars are cancelled, so nothing structured over here, but here are our faves:
a) Using the @AllTrails app to find a family-friendly nature trail (forest bathing). Fresh air & nature reset does a soul good.
b) Virtual dance classes on YouTube or being offered on social media LIVES by our fave choreographers. Hubs & I have been getting silly with the dance challenge features over on TikTok– don’t judge…it’s a brain break we need ;)!
c) Participaction has a fun way to encourage family fitness on their FREE app. Track your activity, win prizes! FUN!
d) Our friends at YMCA GTA are offering family-focused fitness classes for all ages FREE to follow along on Facebook LIVE. Schedule HERE.
Cooking with Kids
I’ve always found cooking meditative – the chopping, stirring, aromas, etc. is where I find my culinary calm in our full family life. Now that we’re schedule free, slow cooking with the kids has been occupying most of our time and coupled with the satisfaction that they’re learning some life skills in home economics is countering the reality that my kitchen will be a permanently messy place for an indefinite amount of time 😉 All our recipes are simple enough that kids can join (littles can add ingredients & stir, bigs can chop & measure ingredients).
We also share quick recipes over on Instagram (many on IG stories we don’t have time to make pretty for the blog), so be sure to go check us out there too. Less is more has never rang more true, so if less dish cleaning while doing more home cooking sounds pretty desirable right now, our sheet pan meals are a must! One pot/pan meals are great too – like our Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta or Pasta e Fagioli.
And if you want to keep inspiring your budding Kid Chefs during the pandemic and beyond – go check out Eitan Bernath’s Channel – 17 year old Chef who blows us away with his young talent & has great ideas. He’s even got “Quarantine Qooking” going on to keep it light.
Here are more from our community:
Be Our Chef – new to Disney+, a family cooking competition where teams face off to create some of the best foods from Disney Theme Parks!
Food Network’s “Cooking with Kids” – recreate recipes from your family’s favourite chefs/bakers
Culinary Arts with Kids –prepare culturally diverse family meals
We’re so appreciative of our food service workers/partners/grocers who are working tirelessly to keep our grocery deliveries moving, but you’ll likely be facing long delays while they wrangle extra resources to meet demand. Be patient. Be kind. And know there are some temporary solutions like trying a meal kit delivery service. We’re giving GoodFood.ca a try for the first time – 50% off 1 week of family meals, farm-fresh local produce & FREE delivery, new recipes to explore together – that’s a win.
We don’t typically do weekly meal planning, but we also have never faced a 3 meals per day x indefinite period of time as a family before so this list is helpful. Print & put up on the fridge:
Finally, since being mindful of our food supply is super important right now, here are some useful charts: 1) Produce Shelf Life (waste not want not); 2) ingredient swaps for baking/cooking recipes in case you run out and need a substitution:
Tech parenting has become our other part-time job & while current circumstances have made us super-lax in the screen time department, we also see first hand that too much tech time takes a toll on our spirits around here. We’ve also been navigating the murky, stressful waters of online privacy, digital literacy + citizenship & self esteem with our tweens. The opportunities for tech/apps/social media to interfere with healthy lifestyle patterns & development are enormous. My favourite sites for Tech Wellness Resources for Families are:
- Digital Wellness Collective
- Tech Wellness
- BeMore – for youth
- Gamer Wellness
- America Offline
If you’re needing to set boundaries on tech access during the school week as we are, here’s a sample Family Tech Contract we created together to try to keep digital drain in check. It helps, but full disclosure, rules get broken often. Nonetheless, it’s great to have it to refer back to for recalling what we all agreed on.
Family Vision Board
Yep…seems like everything is cancelled but this is a fun project to stay focused on things we can look forward to when this is all over. We’ve been doing a family vision board at the start of each year for the last few years, and while some of the things we hoped to bring to life this Spring have been put on hold, dreaming isn’t cancelled & we’ll be adding to it during this time of pause. Immersing in magazines, cutting out inspiring pictures & words is a great way to catch a break from the digital world when we need one.
While I certainly could use much less stimulation right now, some of the kids seek more of it – virtual thrill/adventure-seeking for the win. It’s tough to think about all the things we can’t enjoy outside the house right now, but being transported to some of our favourite family leisure activities by virtual means is kinda cool & and welcome reprieve from seriously scary times. Take a virtual ride at an amusement park (Disney World & Canada’s Wonderland, visit a famous museum/zoo, stream one of these 18 Food + Travel Shows, or simply load up your family snaps from a recent vacation to the TV screen to relive some of your favourite memories. Also, Cirque du Soliel has sparked some joy & wonder, giving us all a 60-min virtual front row seat to select performances HERE. And you bet lots of unstructured screen time is happening over here too and feeling I’m feeling zero guilt about it.
Inspiration & Motivation
TED Talks for Kids – fun, inspiring & motivational presentations by thought leaders who want our kiddos to thrive in the areas/subjects that interest them most
Uncertain times are a perfect opportunity for self-expression. Here’s some thought-starters our community share we love:
Song-Maker – compose your own song on Google’s Music Lab
Create Digital Art – 4 websites for digiart
Monologues for Kids – for the kiddos who love dramatic arts…they can even enter the monologue contest
Video-making & Animation – a compilation of websites/apps appropriate for kids to begin video/animation creation
Colouring Books – Microsoft office launched a massive collection of colouring books & activity sheets for families
Be a Force for Good
It’s well-known – doing good just feels good and don’t we all need to keep our spirits as high as we can right now. Donating to organizations that need our help in critical ways right now (Breakfast Club of Canada, World Vision Canada), supporting local food & family businesses, leaving messages of hope on the sidewalk (i.e. “Chalk Your Walk”), cooking extra food & sharing with others, and leaving small tokens of appreciation with a “Thank You” note for our neighbours in essential services are some ways we’ve spread some light to others.
Other Family Activities
We keep a “Family Activities” Board over on Pinterest with tons of idea prompts from fellow families to connect & have some fun – lots of indoor suggestions too. Many of them are printable so you can pop up on the fridge for the kids to pick from.
Here are some of our faves:
And when the sanity is on it’s last legs, and all the other coping tools just aren’t cutting it…JUST DANCE. Seriously, impromptu dance parties are my default under normal circumstances & even more under these unreal ones. A daily cleanse cry is doing wonders for release too.
But more than all the resources and distractions that are filling up our feeds it’s important to acknowledge that we’ve been given the opportunity to deepen our family connections outside of our usual busy (what a beautiful gift), in whatever way that feels right for each of us and in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. Feeling safe, feeling loved…it’s really all any of us need right now. So no matter what your approach & how you’re connecting to the ones that matter most, we wish you all well as we navigate these times collectively (and at a safe distance) <3
We’d love to hear how you’re passing the time as a family & the things keeping your spirits high. Keep well, friends.
Love & light,
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