In this uncertain time, much of what we’ve experienced as our normal routine has been upended. Kids are home, parents are working from home, leaving to do your regular activities- going to the gym, enjoying a dinner out, getting away for the weekend- are all off the table. How do you begin to create a new normal in our current situation?

The first, and most important aspect of adjusting to the impact of the Covid-19 virus is to calm yourself internally. If you’re a parent, your children will pick up on your level of anxiety and it will unsettle them as well. Do what you can do to take care of yourself: listen to soothing and uplifting music, get yourself outside- taking long or short walks and look up to notice the beauty of nature (staying 6 feet away from other hikers), read a good book.

Although, understandably, there are many health concerns right now, we can also choose to make the best use of the time we will be sequestered. So often, in our normal life we get into routines that aren’t necessarily healthy for ourselves or for our families. Long commutes, extended workdays, kids in childcare for long periods of time have all led to disconnection in families that till now, seemed unavoidable. Perhaps, this season where families are required to be at home together could be an opportunity to change our rhythms. Here are some suggestions to make the most of this unusual time:

  1. Play games as a family. One of our favorites is to create a “treasure hunt” where we hide something (a snack works!) in the house and the kids have to find it while you guide them telling them if they are “hot” (close) or “cold” (far away). You can also order a board game online that your youngest would enjoy and the whole family can play together.
  2. Clean out clutter. I don’t know about you, but our cupboards and closets haven’t seen a reorg in a very long time. My husband bought some plastic bins online to help us put things in place as we purge what we don’t need. A friend of mine has some great advice for decluttering if you need some fresh ideas. Check her out over at her blog.
  3. Join Zoom video conferencing and invite your friends or family to have a virtual “gathering.” It’s better than Facetime if you want to connect with more than one person or family as they can all show up on one screen. Check it out here. Consider Facetime instead of a voice only call when you are connecting one-on-one.
  4. Watch online family learning shows and documentaries. Children’s author, Mo Willems, has a daily “Lunch Doodles” Workshop for your young artists at 1pm Eastern here. Or check out “Emergency Art Classes with Mopsie.” “How It’s Made” or “Mythbusters” are educational shows for older kids. Help kids get their wiggles out with fun dancing programs like “Go Noodle” and “Cosmic Yoga.”
  5. In our normally busy lives, we have neglected to reach out to old friends. Take this time to reach out and connect with those you haven’t spoken to in a good while.
  6. Have pajama parties with your kids. If you’ve got a small tent, set it up in the family room and pretend you’re camping. Cook some s’mores in your fireplace.
  7. Use this time to start new habits of connection with your spouse. Close quarters can increase stress so make sure you’re paying attention to the things they’re doing right and the little things that make life easier or more pleasant for you. As marital researcher, John Gottman, reminds us, “Fondness and appreciation are the bedrock of lasting love. Don’t forget to notice the good things!”
    1. Once the kids are down, have a candlelight conversation. Play the “Love Map” game below.
    2. Express one thing you appreciate about your mate every day.
    3. Create a space where you can each talk about any fears you are having. It is completely normal to have apprehension during this crisis. Be there for one another by offering a safe space to express your feelings freely, without judgment.
  8. Develop new habits of spiritual growth.
    1. Find an encouraging devotional and wake up early enough to read it without interruption every day.
    2. Take time to pray each day. Praying a blessing over mealtime is great but consider a more extended time of prayer and enjoying God’s presence. Consider reading, Bob Munger’s lovely small booklet on spending time alone with God called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home” which is available on Amazon for $2.50 or Google ebook for $1.99. It’s a treasure!
    3. Consider reading a marriage devotional with your spouse. There are some excellent ones on YouVersion.
  9. Get outside! Most of our local and regional parks remain open. Public golf courses have paved paths in beautiful surroundings. My husband and I walk these several times a week. It can give you a lift to get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of nature. Be sure to notice and take in the things that remain the same in the midst of this crisis- spring is coming!

A University College London research study indicated that it takes more than two months (66 days to be exact!) before a new behavior becomes automatic. In this moment, there is much that is out of your control. If you try to control what you can’t control, you will be anxious and frustrated. If, however, you become intentional about what you want to see in your “new normal,” you can begin to exercise the control you do have to make a good difference in your future.

Please share your fun, interesting or enriching ideas so we can help each other create a healthy new normal!