Your Non-Lame but Obligatory Post on Coronavirus & Resources for Kids & Fun Marriages!

by | Mar 17, 2020 | Uncategorized | 32 comments

What to Do in Isolation with Kids from Coronavirus
Merchandise is Here!

So…anyone else self-isolating right now, cosying up with your spouse?

Something tells me there’s going to be a huge baby boom in about 9 months!

Want to hear something ironic? I originally had a post scheduled for today titled “Why We Should Celebrate Other People’s Weddings.” I moved it to May.

Keith and I have been on four planes and in four airports in the last 5 days, so we are hunkering down at home.

We were scheduled to speak at a marriage conference in Myrtle Beach last weekend, and we were going back and forth with the organizers, trying to decide whether or not to cancel. They decided to go ahead, because they had enough cancellations that they were now under 100 people, and at the time, the CDC was saying groups under 100 were okay.

It was honestly a wonderful weekend, with an amazing church group. And I don’t think there was a single cough or sneeze in the room the whole time. Nevertheless, I’m still hunkering down because asymptomatic people can still spread it, and I DO NOT want to spread this to anyone. Plus Keith checked with our local health department, and they are asking anyone who has been out of the country to self-isolate for 14 days. And that is what we are doing. (remember: the point is not just to make sure you don’t get it. The point is to make sure you don’t SPREAD it).

We were also scheduled to leave today for Trinidad, where we were to give some big sex talks to a congregation there. That did get cancelled, and we’re hoping we can go back in the fall.

Because we were scheduled to go away, though, Keith didn’t have any clinics booked in the next few weeks. So we’re both fine to be at home.

Of course, sitting at home and working is kind of like, well, every normal day of my life. So this isn’t that big a change!

I’ve received all kinds of emails from other groups I’m signed up with with plans to build your marriage while you’re stuck at home.

I considered writing some of those, too, but it just seemed excessive. There’s enough of that going around. So why don’t I just say this?

If you do want some great ways to connect with each other in the next few weeks, whether it’s visioning together for your family, identifying your emotional needs, reconnecting emotionally, feeling better about sex, choosing some new hobbies, and so much more, sign up for my email list! When you do, you get access to my library of freebies, and you can choose whatever you want and have fun!

And now can I give a bit of a pep talk to parents who are home with their kids?

I homeschooled my kids all the way through high school, so I was home with them A LOT. And the best way to make sure they don’t get whiny and bother you a ton is to spend a few hours everyday exclusively focused on them. When they have your attention, and they know that you’re enjoying it, they play much easier by themselves later in the day. When you’re just trying to keep them busy so they don’t bother you, they sense it and they often become even more demanding. But when you slow down and give them undivided attention, you fill up their tank and calm them down.

I was never one for sitting on the floor and actually playing with toys with my kids. But we could do all these educational things, and the kids found them fun. And I found that if I gave them my undivided attention in the morning, they often played so well together in the afternoon that I’d have time to work, too.

So if you’re trying to get work done, and now your kids are home, you’ll probably get more accomplished if you engage them wholeheartedly for a few hours a day, and then ask them to play by themselves so you can work, than if you try to get stuff done all day and they keep interrupting you.

Here’s how (and some affiliate links follow!):

1. Read great books to your kids

When we were homeschooling, my absolute favourite way of doing that was reading books. We read everything out loud–and often many times! I think over the course of the girls’ childhoods we read the Anne of Green Gables series twice. We did all the Beverly Cleary books twice, too. And Narnia? At least three times! And they were wonderful each time.

Little Women may be an appropriate one to read right now, with Beth’s illness (or perhaps that’s too scary–I don’t know!). But Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Wizard of Oz, Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Redwall, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Sign of the Beaver, and more–so many wonderful children’s books.

I asked Joanna, who works with me and is a young mom looking for great Christian content and I asked her for a list of her favorite books for kids. Here’s Joanna,

There are some truly fabulous books and resources available for Christian kids today. Now that we’re in coronavirus social distancing mode, we will be spending lots more time home and reading. Here are some of my favorite Christian books you probably haven’t heard of, by level

Board Books

Picture Books

Chapter Books

The other thing that worked well was reading educational books and then having them do projects, whether it was drawing pictures or doing crafts or writing stories or making up a play that has to do with that time period.

2. Do some crafts with kids

We’d also make homemade play doh or goop (it’s easier than you think) and let them play with that for hours on end!

If your kids are at least 6 or 7, it’s a great time to teach them how to knit or crochet, too, and that can help them keep busy. My grandmother learned to knit when she was 7, under quarantine with diphtheria (which eventually took her sister from her). And I still have so many items of clothing that my grandmother knit! Here are my girls a few years ago wearing some dresses she knit in the 60s:

Knit During Quarantine

Katie and Rebecca in 2013, wearing lace dresses from the 1960s that their great-grandmother knit

 

And young boys often enjoy knitting as well. If they find that difficult, one of these knitting looms from Amazon are a great substitute, and they can make a hat or an infinity scarf.

Knitting Looms

3. Play Family Board Games

And then, of course, kids also love puzzles and family board games! I’ve got a list of our favourite 20 that work at various ages (and then, of course, I also have our favourite board games for couples, too). With an Amazon Prime membership, you can get them shipped for free in two days.

I also asked Joanna about kids and family board games, since there are SO many new great games. Here are a few of her suggestions,

My First Orchard

We are truly blessed that we live in an era where there are AMAZING companies producing high quality educational games for small children. Gone are the days of Candyland reigning supreme. (Hooray!) HABA games is my go-to recommendation for games for little kids and their “my first” series is appropriate for children starting at age 2. I got my daughter My First Orchard for her second birthday and I was really impressed with how large the different fruits and pieces that are included in the game. It’s simple enough for her to understand and it’s been great practice in following directions, basic rules, and colors.

Honga

HABA also has a variety of games for families or older children. Honga is a new game that sounds totally adorable and really fun – plus it teaches risk/reward in a really creative way (it involves a “pet” sabor tooth tiger).

My Little Scythe

For older kids, My Little Scythe is a new game that’s an adorable way to learn some really tricky concepts – drafting, selecting actions, managing where you are on tracks, and so on. The game is adorable, well thought out, and will teach kids LOTS of important skills. I’m especially impressed that it comes with a variety of miniatures that kids will love spending an afternoon painting.

4. Take museum tours.

Lots of museums, zoos, aquariums offer free online tours. A list of some amazing options is available here 

5. Enjoy a night (in) at the opera

The MET opera in New York is offering free streaming of their performances from their website.

6. Check out free educational resources online

A number of educational companies are offering curriculum for free. A handy list is here.

7. Teach your kids life skills

Whether you’re an avid gardener, are good with cars, sew like a fiend, or are the best home chef around, you’ve got skills that you could teach your kids. Home economics and life skills aren’t included in formal curricula for schools anymore, but getting kids acquainted with how to run a household from an early age is so important. Hey, you can even get older kids to help you with your taxes!

8. Use screen time as family time

Joanna wrote about this last week, Minno is a great streaming resource with LOTS of amazing Christian content – including 30 classic Veggie Tales episodes. They have a free one week trial for TLHV readers – just use this link! Joanna and I went for a walk last week and her daughter was singing a song about all the Judges in the Bible. She’s only 2! I’ve been really impressed with her Bible knowledge, which she got from watching shows available on Minno. Here are two of Joanna’s favorites:

Slugs and Bugs

I’ve started making a 3 episode DVD of The Slugs and Bugs Show a default gift to families with kids. I love this show. It’s paced well for little ones, the lessons are really thoughtful and nuanced, and it’s genuinely funny even for grownups. Plus, every episode is packed full of Biblical insight and Bible verses set to music. In the midst of this pandemic, hearing my toddler sing, “trust in the Lord with all your heart…” has been a comfort to me in a way nothing else has been. If you’re a mom with little kids, I cannot recommend the Slugs and Bugs Show enough. Wonderfully, Slugs and Bugs has made one episode of the show (appropriately about fear and trusting the Lord) free on their website.

What’s in the Bible

The What’s in the Bible series covers the Bible from cover to cover. (Ok. I feel bad about that joke. Forgive me?) It’s incredible thoughtful, delves into hard issues, teaches the good news about Jesus AND it’s funny. It’s a win all around. I genuinely can’t recommend this enough – it is family viewing at its finest.

9. Watch free documentaries

With sports cancelled until further notice, maybe your sports nut would enjoy Ken Burn’s classic Baseball documentary, which is streaming free at pbs.org. Additionally, a link to a variety of free documentaries is available here. (As a note, be sure to do due diligence with documentaries since they aren’t fact checked or subject to expert opinion in the same way that, say, scientific articles are.

10. Sorting bears make math more fun!

Sorting animals are a great investment (ok, they’re $15 on amazon. But still.) They grow with your kids! Little ones can use them to practice sorting by color but older kids can use bears to investigate math problems, create patterns, and play with numbers as their imaginations take them.

11. Use The Bible Project to increase your kids’ Biblical Literacy

One really great use of this slower season is to delve deeper into your walk with the Lord. The Bible Project makes high quality, animated youtube videos on TONS of different biblical topics. They’re a wonderful resource, especially for older elementary children and up. If you’d like to make scripture reading more of a mainstay in your children’s lives, they have email subscriptions available that will send you what text to read and a video to watch beforehand to prepare you for the reading. I’m so impressed with their ministry.

12. Try learning geography with Setera

Preparing your kiddos for a winning run on Jeopardy? They’ll need to learn lots of geography before they head to Final. Use the many map quizzes available to learn all kinds of important geography facts.

13. Use free lesson plans from NASA

14. Learn Human Anatomy with Inner Body

15. Learn search tools and use brain teasers by using Google a Day

This is a great problem solving tool – have your kids figure out the answer to a riddle using a search engine and the power of their brains. I’d make this a family activity to be sure things don’t go awry, but it’s a really fun getting going activity for you all!

15 Things to Do with your Kids when in Isolation with Coronavirus

So there you go–lots of things to keep you and your kids busy if you’re stuck at home.

And then maybe we won’t think of it as a punishment to be home, but instead as an opportunity to explore and have some fun without a huge list of things we have to do, like normal. And, again, if you do need to work, spending some uninterrupted time with your kids earlier in the day helps soothe and calm them so they’ll give you more time later!

Let me know–are you self-isolating? Is school cancelled for your kids? Are you working from home? How are you coping? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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32 Comments

  1. Chris

    I called the baby boom thing last week. Then I saw a meme yesterday that said we can call those babies “Coronials”. Loved it!

    Reply
    • Kim

      I think the baby boom idea or “joke” is in poor taste right now. Many people are worried and many are sick. It’s not a honeymoon for most of us.

      Reply
  2. Melissa

    Also, GO OUTSIDE! Play in the yard, take a hike, etc… Just do it as a family and not a group activity with friends. Stuck at home does not mean we have to be stuck inside. Fresh air and vitamin D are essential to staying physically and mentally well!

    Reply
  3. Natalie

    Wow! These are AWESOME resources! Thanks for posting!!
    My husband has been self-quarantined for a week, and just got an email from his company that all employees will be working from home for the rest of the month. Only 7 days in and he’s already going stir-crazy. Haha, I mentioned to him too that we CANNOT conceive another baby this month lol. Isn’t a problem for him though, since worry is a major libido-killer for him.
    We were joking that the effects of isolation and sadness/depression that everyone will soon be experiencing is what probably a lot of moms have already experienced and adapted to (specifically those who lack nearby family or community… myself included). Aside from some store shelves being empty and cutting out church and the other weekly play date outing, it’s business as usual for us (at least for now). And it’s nice to have my husband home to interact with the kids during his “breaks”.

    Reply
  4. Anon

    I’m not self isolating yet, which I’m very thankful for, as I live alone. I’m an introvert, but the idea of weeks or even months without being able to have a face to face conversation is scary! I work on the land, so my job is likely to be one of the last to go (and obviously I can’t do it from home!) So my work life is going on pretty much as before, except that we are very careful to stay two metres apart.
    The thing I’m saddest about is that it looks like our wedding will have to be delayed – they haven’t yet banned weddings in the UK, but they are strongly advising people not to attend them, so I don’t think it will be long before we have an outright ban, as they have done in Italy. Which in turn brings loads of questions like should my fiance give notice on his apartment (and potentially become homeless if the wedding is cancelled) or not give notice and we end up paying rent on two homes for the first couple of months post-marriage! Was it Corrie Ten Boom who said that when we cast our cares on the Lord, we’re not meant to pick them up again? I’m having a hard time not picking my anxiety back up right now!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      oh, no! You have to postpone your wedding? That’s awful! I’m so sorry. I know that in the broader scheme of things, there are worse things, as Corrie ten Boom said, but still, that is disappointing. It really is.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Oh man! I hear you about the wedding!
      I am supposed to get married one month from today and it is looking like we may have to cancel our wedding (and our honeymoon) all together and just elope. Makes me feel so sick after all the stress and work poured into it over the last six months.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, no! I’m so sorry. I get so sad for people in this situation. Can you elope and then still have a big reception afterwards, when all this dies down? That’s terrible!

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          We were only going to have a ceremony and super simple reception. We haven’t canceled yet as we’re hoping this clears up and we can have our wedding after all—even if we have to un-invite everyone except immediate family and bridal party to stay under 50 people.

          Reply
          • Anon

            Sending you a virtual, socially distanced hug! The uncertainty is the hardest thing, isn’t it?! I hope your wedding can go ahead, even if it’s smaller and simpler than you had originally planned.

  5. Arwen

    I’m just waiting for this rain to pass by so i can get out of the house like i always do after work. I despise the rain, the cold, and gloomy weather. I have been volunteering at a lot of places like homeless shelter & food bank since they are low on staff because everybody is getting out of control with their panic. Sorry, poor people have to eat too. I really love the documanteris, as an documentary addict myself, they’re the best! I always love your tips because anybody can do them! Thank you!

    Reply
  6. KellyK

    I’m an RN. In a male prison. No self-quarantine here for me. All staff are having our temperatures checked upon entry into the facility and if we have a fever over 38C (100.4),we get sent home! So far, no cases there. Yet.
    My son is out of school until at least April 6th. High school Baseball is cancelled most likely. Makes me sad because I love to watch my son play.
    C’est la vie!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so tough, Kelly! What’s going to happen when it goes through the prison? Wow. Because you can pass it when it’s asymptomatic. But then, what’s the alternative? So tough!

      Reply
      • KellyK

        They have stopped all visitation to all the state prisons in PA. Employees, vendors and contractors must have their temps checked. Inmates at this time, are still going out for outside Dr appointments & elective surgical procedures, although I expect that will stop soon. But upon their return, we check their temperatures.
        I don’t know what the plan is IF an inmate has symptoms of COVID-19. Our medical area is full with other inmates who require long-term/skilled nursing care and there’s only two negative airflow rooms. I don’t think the bosses know what the plan is for that either.

        Reply
  7. Rosanna

    We aren’t self-isolating but we homeschool so we are home a lot anyway. ( Besides my husband) My husband’s work is very busy still he is gone every day. Many things will be cancelling but the public school doesn’t cancel until AFTER this week is done. I kind of feel like that is a mistake but I can understand why. Our schools aren’t giving a free-for-all, they expect kids to homeschool. I’m not sure how that will work for those who need to work, etc. We cancelled plans to go to Florida for a family vacation for 10 days. If we had gone, our flight would be almost there right now. A lot of disappointment for our kids. It would have been their first flight.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so tough for kids! And disappointing for everyone. I feel sorry for kids who don’t have parents who are able/willing to actually teach them. They’ll fall even more behind.

      Reply
  8. Sarah O

    Schools/daycares closed for two weeks here. Grammy would normally be my backup but trying to keep the kids away from her for the same period just to be sure we don’t spread it to her.
    Husband and I both work full time. We’ve negotiated day on/day off with our employers. I have just gotten back to work from maternity leave (baby is 10 weeks).
    I am thankful for the extra time with the kids but definitely not used to running a preschool/daycare. It’s pretty intense and my three youngest are all under two with limited vocabulary/attention span.
    But all in, we’re very lucky to have our biggest worry be energy. Hope you and yours are all hunkered down and well-provisioned!
    Thanks for the great resources!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Sarah, I can’t imagine going back to work with a 10 week old! I know say this all the time, but that actually brings tears to my eyes. I’m glad you’ve got a little bit more time, even if it’s crazy!

      Reply
  9. Lindsey

    I want to recommend, for anyone staying in – there is an app called ”The Chosen,” which allows you to watch the largest crowdfunded show ever created (and you can use your phone to watch it on the tv if you have a Roku or other smart tv).
    It shows the life of Christ from the viewpoint of the chosen disciples – starting with Mary Magdalene! – and it is done exceptionally well. The talented cast even look Jewish/middle eastern, with a wide range of races represented (as you would expect to find in Roman-occupied Capernaum)!
    There is some creative license taken – so anyone who insists on never speculating/ filling out the story of Christ’s life on earth may want to pass. However, care is taken to stay true to the character of the individuals from the biblical accounts.
    It does drive home the fact that these people existed and lived real lives. They weren’t just two-dimensional stories. My husband and I were both were moved to tears on multiple occasions, and my kids loved it. We are already rewatching the season (there’s 7 or 8 episodes and they are planning more seasons, funding permitting).
    If you are looking for something to renew your zeal, awe, and love for our Savior – or if you struggle to understand His love for you – or if you just want to watch something as a family that can make you better people – check out ”the chosen” app.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Lindsey!

      Reply
  10. KellyK

    Hey Sheila? How is the best way to learn how to knit if you don’t have anyone nearby who also knows how to knit to show you? YouTube videos? I once knew basic knitting but since I haven’t actually knitted in awhile, I’m pretty rusty.
    Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, yeah, I’m sure there are some amazing YouTube videos! Knitting really is awesome. Maybe I should do a how-to tutorial. 🙂

      Reply
      • KellyK

        THAT would be an excellent idea 🙂

        Reply
  11. Bre

    I was on spring break from college last week…now stuck at home until further notice with online classes starting on the 30th. I am very annoyed because, even when there isn’t a panic, I have no job, little mobility, and nothing to do in my hometown. I’m not going to be allowed to go back to my dorm till May…great hot mess this has caused cause I’m moving into an apartment in my college town this summer and now will have no money cause I can’t work and I won’t be able to look for a new summer job until the great panic calms down, so I’ll be trying to hunt for a job while I’m moving in. Thanks, disease.
    Your ideas are great! Big fan of #3; my mom and I are trying to learn to play chess…with ‘Dummy’ books. I’ve mostly just been watching a ton of anime, but I also want to take the advantage of the opportunity to work on my web novels, since I haven’t published any new chapters since January, and read some books since I haven’t had free time to read since winter break ended. Not happy at the reason why, but being forced to take it easy and spend time with my parents isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! Take this time to work on writing, or a big project you’ve always wanted to do. At least then you can remember this time with feelings of accomplishment, because I know the rest is really tough.

      Reply
  12. Elsie

    Thanks for this great post! Sorry to hear about the struggles that many commenters are facing! And lol, baby booms after people are cooped inside definitely happen. 🙂
    Just FYI, be careful about making homemade playdough because raw flour can be a risk for foodborne illness. This website explains why and has a recipe that recommends baking the flour to make it safer: https://foodsafety.osu.edu/blog/september-23-2019-156pm/homemade-playdough-keeping-kids-safe
    Hope everyone stays safe and healthy (both mentally and physically) during this time.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I didn’t know that. We used to make homemade play doh all the time.

      Reply
  13. AspenP

    Some of my favorite Christian kids books in addition to your list are:
    That Little Voice in Your Head (learning about your conscience) by Andrew David Naselli
    The Friend Who Forgives by Dan Dewitt
    It Will Be Okay (Learning to trust God through fear and change) by Lysa TerKeurst
    I Am (40 Bible stories about the names of God). by Diane Stortz
    Hear No Weevil (A story about temptation) by Matt Whitlock

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for those!

      Reply
  14. Stacey Becker

    My anxiety is currently through the roof with schools closed until April. Children are to participate fully in distance learning to stay on track. But how is this accomplished when the parent works full time? By the time I’m home at six, we’ll have two hours for “school” and baths for the kids. That’s simply not enough time and very stressful….

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so tough, Stacey! I hear you. I will say that it often doesn’t take long to do 1 on 1 schooling. When I homeschooled, we did all of our work in the mornings, right up until grade 6 or 7. And they were grade levels ahead. When it’s 1 on 1, you can be much more efficient. But I hear you. I hope this will be over soon.

      Reply
  15. Cara

    Hi! I’d recommend checking out this website out too https://alldigitalschool.com/. I am mainly using it for their forum but I saw tons of resources that you might like. It might be a great addition to this list too. It’s helping me a lot so far.

    Reply

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