“The darker the storm, the brighter the rainbow.”
By now, you’ve had a few weeks to adjust to the “new normal.” You likely have a routine, you’ve explained the situation to your children, and you’re busy keeping up with school work. Yet, you may also be feeling tinges of emptiness, anxiety, or helplessness. During a time of crisis, it can be cathartic to reach out to others. Use this time productively to demonstrate the kindness, charity, and thoughtfulness you want your kids to assimilate. Joining together in a service project bonds the family closer together and helps your children with anxiety and boredom as well.
1. Take care of your own.
First and foremost, practice social distancing! By now, scientists have talked until they’re blue in the face about the dire need of flattening the curve by staying at home with your immediate family members. With reduced work hours and homeschooling in full effect, you’re likely to be spending a LOT more family time these days.
However, don’t forget about family members who may be missing your family or enduring the quarantine in complete isolation from others. Make it a habit – if not daily, then at least weekly – to catch up with grandparents, cousins, friends, or even your child’s classmates.
Many people are using FaceTime, Zoom, or the House Party app to visually connect with others. You can also tape video messages on your smartphone and text them directly to others. Another alternative (for longer videos) is to upload them to YouTube, list them as “unshared” to keep them unsearchable, and send the link to your desired recipient via text or email. You can also create beautiful works of art with the kids to mail to loved ones the old-fashioned way with a stamp. Share a little bit of your day with other parents who are also feeling their way through this Brave New World of homeschooling.
2. Lend a helping hand to your neighbors.
Consider what you can do for your neighbors, particularly the elderly or homebound. Use this template to print out viral kindness postcards to place in mailboxes, offering assistance – whether it’s picking up a few items from the store, completing yard work, or making a friendly wellness call.
If you’re feeling too cooped up and need to get out into the community, New York Cares is in need of volunteers to help with a number of projects. You might pack meal bags for delivery to seniors, bag produce, or serve at a local food pantry.
Show your support for neighborhood walkers by posting one of these popular rainbow signs in your window with an encouraging message. Some kids are also using sidewalk chalk to write messages of cheer, hope, love, and togetherness. You might consider thanking “essential personnel” that may be coming to your home, such as a postal worker or delivery person.
3. Make sure there’s enough food for everyone.
A number of organizations are providing for the hungry. More than 80,000 New Yorkers filed for unemployment in March, so we can only assume the number of people who suddenly can’t afford groceries is skyrocketing similarly. You can feed five people for $1 with your donation to The Food Bank of NYC.
Make it a family affair by using this opportunity to talk to your kids about the importance of giving money to local food banks. You might read a book like Maddi’s Fridge or Last Stop on Market Street to help younger child understand that some children are less fortunate, particularly during economic downturns like the one we’re facing now.
Charities like City Harvest openly encourage young volunteerism. Kids can get involved with the “Draw Hope To Drive Hope” campaign by: coloring or designing a donation food truck or lunch bag. Socially share using hashtag #WeAreCityHarvest to raise awareness, then mail the finished illustration to drivers on the front lines at firstname.lastname@example.org or City Harvest Food Rescue Facility, 55-01 2nd Street, Queens NY 11101, ATTN: Francesca. Do your part by sending in a financial contribution; just $15 feeds 55 children for a day. You can double your donation amount by texting LUNCH to 20222, which will not only make a $15 donation, but will include a matched amount from Danone North America (up to $100K).
Of course, you’d hate to hear that all your favorite restaurants have gone out of business after this is all over. Order out from your favorite NYC eatery offering takeout at least once a week to support your local community. As an added bonus, you can donate to restaurants that are raising funds to feed busy healthcare workers.
4. Adopt a pet.
Now that you are spending more time at home, it could be the right time to expand your family. Adopting a pet is a loving gesture that your kids will really enjoy. New animals require lots of attention during their initial adjustment phase, with a structured routine, lots of play, and daily training sessions. Be sure you specifically check off the box to search “good with children.”
Animal Care Centers of NYC is not allowing tours of the buildings as per usual, but if you see a pet that pulls at your heart strands on their website, a care coordinator can set up a meeting. You may also consider donating animal food, cleaning supplies, bedding, leashes, collars, and bowls to a local animal shelter. They are always in need.
5. Help classmates celebrate their birthdays.
It can be difficult for children to cope with having a quarantine birthday. They miss out on all the special treats they’ve seen other kids receive on their birthdays earlier in the school year – be it a crown, a special song, or cupcakes brought in by parents. They may also be missing out on a party with friends, presents, and a place they really love.
Reach out to your child’s teacher to find out who is celebrating a birthday coming up. For classmates your child is not besties with, you can simply create a “Happy Birthday” sign to send virtually – or you might record a video to pass along. Organizing a virtual Zoom Party can be a fun way to get the whole class together, at least for a song.
For friends, cousins, and classmates your child is closer to, you might consider sending a small gift and calling them up for a video chat. Some families do car parades, sending their drive-by wishes, honking horns. You might place balloons on a porch railing, decorate the yard, or draw chalk messages in their driveways (with parental permission, of course!)
If your child is the one having a quarantine birthday, consider different ways to make the day special. Create a balloon waterfall to rain down on your child when he or she opens the door in the morning. Pick a theme. For instance, you might pitch a tent and have a pretend campout at home or set up a projection screen movie. Set up a scavenger hunt where one present leads to another throughout the house and yard. Spend the day cooking a favorite ethnic meal or baking together, filming your child’s contribution like a cooking show. FaceTime with friends and family throughout the day. Families have been doing dress-up princess tea parties, beach parties with blow-up pools full of pillows and blankets in the living room, and ice cream sundaes.
And while still in quarantine, click here to learn more about our craft bags and online classes!