It is around the second week of the coronavirus here in Australian where we are starting to take the virus seriously. We’ve bunkered down here in Victoria this past week and only going out for essential work (daughter working at McDonald’s!!) and groceries. No group meetings. No catching up with anyone outside of our home. No Youth Group. No church. No coffee dates. No people over for meals. Schools finished up yesterday if they hadn’t already. Since we home school, our kids were already home.
How are you and your family coping?
Today I am loving the isolation. I almost feel like the boy in this photo, opening a treasure chest of possibilities for our family cohesion and learning and finding new skills during this time. Yesterday I cleaned out all our First Aid kits and amalgamated them, throwing out a heap of items. This was not on my agenda, but it became apparent it needed doing after we went through all our cupboards and travel gear looking for hand sanitizer. I then realised that we had first aid items in various places, and we didn’t need as much as we had. Plus there was a heap of stuff from 2011 when we travelled overseas with heaps of medical items.
One of my main roles during this time, though, is making sure that our children are going fine mentally. Physically they are fine. The concern is for mental health. Both of my children are pretty resilient, so I am not expecting any issues, but I still want to be ‘on the front foot’.
Princess (16 nearly 17) is our social butterfly. Her four dance classes of a Tuesday evening being cancelled were a big hit to her. We acknowledged it, she felt disappointed in the moment and then moved on. She organised with her senior’s class to face time them at the time they would normally dance.
Last weekend brought the coronavirus and the precautions into reality for my teenagers. Using the internet and zoom on Friday night for Youth and then Sunday morning, not going to meet at church etc all helped in facing reality. It was hard. Princess has adapted very quickly to face timing her different sets of friends and has retained a connection with them all. Matey is a different personality and will jump in when there is a group chat organised for youth etc but doesn’t initiate these conversations like Princess.
Matey (14) had his Air Force Cadets cancelled immediately there was talk of Coronavirus. Thus, he has been without his mates there for several weeks. This was a huge part of his life and he had many exciting activities booked in over the next two months which have all been cancelled. He was understandably disappointed, but we looked at the facts and he accepted the situation.
We have no control over the facts and the situation. We do, however, have control over our emotions and how we handle the situation. Neither of my children, thankfully, get depressed or anxious.
We don’t deny the bad as it is important to be in touch with our emotions and to ‘feel’ the pain and be in the present, but we do turn quite quickly to the finding the good and being thankful. That, I believe, is a gift that we need to teach our children.
This is a perfect opportunity to model and teach resilience. How we handle this situation and model it will certainly be an example for our children. What we say and do is so important.
Our family is fantastic at being prudent (cautious) and not becoming fearful. We have looked at various Bible verses to do with not being afraid. We have brought the virus from being something nebulous into reality eg how we handwash and wipe down surfaces, having hand sanitizer in the car, watching short videos on how viruses are spread, etc.
Other practical actions we have taken include the following:
- Finding something kind to do for someone else each day.
Whether this is writing a letter to thank someone, taking treats to emergency or supermarket workers, giving toilet paper to someone else etc. I encourage you to brainstorm with your kids all the various ways you can show kindness to others during this time. Today I used chalk to write encouragements on our footpath. Our family typed up a pamphlet and letterboxed our street to say that we are available to go shopping or post mail or get urgent supplies for anyone if they are self-isolating. Out of the 60 houses in our street, 20 houses responded. Only one wanted us to get shopping for them, which Matey volunteered to do. The other 19 all rang us to let us know that it had greatly impacted them mentally to know that we would help them. They all had family organised already to help but it meant so much to them to know that they could call on us if they needed to. One man wrote to “The Age’ newspaper about us and said that it was a great example of mateship. Another neighbour dropped in two packets of chocolates to thank us for ‘making their day’ with our selflessness. Other families in our suburb have now followed and implemented similar things. Another family has each child/teenager reading a children’s book over face time every day at 4pm for other children to watch and listen, giving mums of small children a break for half an hour.
- Enjoying having dinner together every evening and implementing a devotional time over dinner. Our family’s schedule in the last twelve months has meant that we are not often eating dinner all together. Thus, the restrictions imposed have meant that we eat dinner together every night. This morning I realised that a dream I desired years ago could be implemented for our family during this time and how we managed our evening time.
- Making a list of skills and goals we each want to develop in throughout this time.
- Writing a list of suggestions on how to occupy our time physically, socially, mentally, etc. I always find that if I can see on a list some suggestions, it helps me when I am in the middle of being desperate for an alternative but unsure what to do.
- Getting the kids and myself outdoors every day, whether a walk, bike ride or walk along the beach.
- Watching the words we say to each other and about each other. When this time began, we were chatting about who ‘the weakest link in our family was’ for catching the virus. We quickly realised that this was not positive talk and had negative connotations. Thus, we have changed the words we say.
- Revisiting our worldview and how we handle fear. Having Jesus Christ at our centre makes this so much easier in that wherever God is, fear cannot be there as well. Thus, if we look to God, fear cannot be there. (Isaiah 43:5)
- Realising that it is an act of love to slow down, stay at home and not be a carrier of the virus.
- Praying for others, the death/end of the virus, healthcare workers etc.
What is your family going to do during this time that will make a difference? I would love to hear so please let me know.