We’re All In This Together

March 23, 2020, Shirley Rubio Blake

My family is starting week two of quarantine and it has been interesting how we got here.

In the past three months I have traveled internationally twice, and I saw many travelers using masks and sanitizer, definitely more than normal. There were lots of informational signs posted about the virus. And on my last trip, another traveler asked if I was worried about the virus, and I said no.

My work is with different community systems, including public health and hospitals. The coronavirus was discussed in meetings over the past few months, but not as extremely serious. Then, three weeks ago, the topic changed to what might happen “in case” it became a reality here communities.

Finally, two weeks ago, schools were cancelled and I began working from home. It became a reality for us.

Many of us haven’t lived under such circumstances, but here we are. I try not to think too much about what lies ahead. And I’m trying to be optimistic because there are many positives. My optimism stems from life experiences of hard times that reaped lessons of greater wisdom and appreciation for the little things in life.

My optimism is only fueled by the creativity and flexibility of people. In working with community partners, I have found there are many amazing organizations, groups, and individuals that are caring and charitable! Many are finding ways to keep going with their work and help people in this new situation. Groups have mobilized to help vulnerable populations by providing food assistance, financial resources, and tele-provider support. I could go on and on about the love-centered deeds and offerings of individuals in our community!

Then the reality hits – we are quarantined with our kids at home and are limited in social interactions. And let’s be honest, I don’t have a master’s degree in education! I am not prepared to teach my kids like their awesome teachers. But I can focus on what I can do!

Here’s a few ways we’ve spent the last two weeks – playing catch, riding bikes, making cards for loved ones, painting rocks, playing on the swing set and trampoline, reading books, and telling stories.

And there are many wonderful companies, like National Geographic, Scholastic books, and PBS, that put out free resources for parents and children alike to access:

I’m not forgetting about us, parents and caregivers. All of a sudden, some of us are at home with our kids trying to provide positive stimulation and enriching interactions, often while working from home. We are all worried about what the future holds. Here is the thing, none of us knows what life will be three months from now, but I do know that worrying about the future won’t make today any better. We have to try our best to be in the moment, while staying flexible and creative.

When I wake up, I ask myself, what can I do TODAY? And I make a plan for today. Right now, this day-by-day attitude has been working. It helps me to stay grounded and present.

Here are some more tips that are helping me:

  1. Make and stick to a daily routine – this has helped me to not feel overwhelmed;
  2. Practice self-care to handle your stress – some of my friends love to paint their nails, other people like to bake (I’m currently making cinnamon rolls!), do what works for you;
  3.  Communicate – state what you need to your partner and children, and make sure to discuss with your children in an appropriate matter what is going on;
  4. Define your boundaries with news – it is so important to limit consumption of news to what you can handle. I have two days a week when I limit communication and consumption of information. Instead, I refocus my attention to be present with my children and spouse.
  5. Reading – what better way to stimulate the prefrontal cortex and escape from reality for a bit!
  6. Journaling – another easy way to create inner peace, and be able to look back at how you survived the coronavirus!
  7. And lastly… connect to others safely!

Ideas to connect:

  1. Facebook messenger has a video chat option. My kids and I love using the filters while we video chat with our friends and family.
  2. While you are on Facebook, check out the Pollywog Family Facebook page (link). We are going to be offering regular ideas to enjoy this time with your kids while keeping our stress down. Follow us and join the conversation!
  3. ZOOM is a video conference platform that you can use to chat with other friends.
  4. Use your phone to make an old-school phone call to a dear one is always a nice way to connect plus phones now how FaceTime which is easy to use.
  5. Email or snail mail an old friend or someone that has been on your mind – now is the time!

Try to remember these two things:

Take it day by day. Focus on today!

We are all in this together, you are not alone. We got this!

I wish you all peace and hope. I trust that we are being respectful and obedient with the recommendations. With that, I plan to focus on blogs around Parent Engagement for yourself and your children. Until next time