A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

How do two ordinary dads write about COVID-19? We’re not doctors or healthcare workers. Our medical knowledge extends to being at the other end of a scalpel for surgery. We’re two of millions of people absolutely in awe of the power of this raging virus—one that does not discriminate according to age, gender or status. It is merciless as it carves out paths across the nation and world and selects its hotspots to ravage specific populations. It is a reminder of how small and powerless we are.

Fond “regrades”

Dad, first of all, we hope you are instructing your youngsters and older children through this disease maze. Our families haven’t shown their faces for quite awhile in their neighborhood. We have all become creative in our isolation. We’ve received videos of our grandkids jumping off the sofa into a pile of stuffed animals, over and over. We’ve split our sides laughing at a 4-year-old grandson, pounding away on the piano keyboard and improvising a tune to “Give my regrades to Broadway!” (No, that is not a typo.) We’ve watched our granddaughter frolic in a camping tent, set up in a living room with no room to spare. Under ordinary circumstances some of the indoor behavior would be forbidden. Currently, however, almost anything goes, minus access to the knife drawer and the cat’s litter box.

How to be close apart

At this writing, staying home has been extended at least through April. Right now, it’s still kind of fun for the kids because their world of concern starts and ends at the toy box and the video library. Dad, you’re well aware of the world of hurt outside your front door. You know people who are alone in their homes, whose only conversation is with their cat. Maybe they are your neighbors or members in your church.

What a wonderful opportunity to impart values to your children, especially the older ones. If you can take the gang on a walking tour, we suggest conducting a “window waving” campaign. How many elderly people do you suppose are sitting at a window right now and just staring out? You might be surprised. Walk by, catch their attention, and wave. Step closer to the window and ask. “Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

Get the kids involved

If you can locate their address, send them a card from your family. Or have the kids make and decorate a homemade card. If you are able to track down their phone number, call them, let it ring several times, and let your kids say hello. It’s no nosedive off the sofa into a mountain of stuffed animals, but one small gesture like that just might mean the world to an elderly person who lives alone.

“We’re all in this together” has become the new catch phrase, even as we avoid togetherness. Perhaps when this is all behind us, that statement will truly become words to live by.

By dads2dads

Keeping The Kids Engaged

During this time of the pandemic, we have become all too familiar with kids getting antsy, bored, maudlin, fussy, or just downright irritable and hard to live with. The space gets tighter and the nerves get touchier. What can we do to keep kids involved, still learning, and relatively calm?

Bill’s son built a fort in his living room for his kids. He cleared out a pretty large space and put up the big tent he’d bought for camping. His kids could carry toys and dolls in and out, play peek-a-boo, take naps, and hold pretend conversations. That provided days of fun. It was really special when they were able to get the dog in there.

With the richness of computer resources, you can reach out far and wide for encouragement and engagement without putting up the big tent.

For example, several zoos have virtual hookups where you can see their animals, roaming, eating, and resting. The Cincinnati Zoo has a Home Safari where they highlight one of their animals each time and conduct an activity for kids. The program appears on Facebook Live and is posted later on the Zoo’s webpage and its YouTube channel.

http://cincinnatizoo.org/home-safari-resources/

 

Two excellent zoos – the Smithsonian National Zoo and the San Diego Zoo – have set up web cams so you can visit with their animals.

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams     https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams

Kids can engage in activities on Crayola’s create and learn page. You can sort by tools you’d like to use, the occasion, and the age of the child (or adult!).

https://www.crayola.com/athome

Cooking with your kids can be fun and is made easier by Food Network. They have kid friendly recipes, kitchen tasks, and tips.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/recipes-for-kids/cooking-with-kids

Aquariums are a great place to connect. Sites like Aquarium of the Pacific, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Tennessee Aquarium provide links to their exhibits.

http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/exhibits/webcams

https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/ocean-voyager/

https://www.tnaqua.org/live-cams/

 

Check out your local library online. Many have access to a variety of free books you can check out electronically and read from home.

 

Our state has the Tennessee Electronic Library which is a large virtual collection for Tennessee residents. Your state may have something similar. You can sit in your lounger, stay in your comfy pants, and access hundreds of books.

https://tntel.info/content/about-tennessee-electronic-library

 

The Indianapolis Library has a free video read-aloud service. Just click on one of the dozen books you would like to read and have at it. No library card necessary.

https://www.indypl.org/blog/for-parents/free-video-read-alouds

The site weareteachers.com highlights some virtual field trips on their website. Kids can have a learning experience without ever leaving home, fighting in the car’s back seat, complaining that they are hungry or asking when they are going to get there.

https://www.weareteachers.com/best-virtual-field-trips/

Check out a museum. The Boston Children’s Museum provides many online learning opportunities

https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/learning-resources?mod=article_inline

Try investigating the International Space Station (ISS) and stepping aboard this incredible vehicle, meeting the current station crew, and taking part in STEMonstrations – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math demonstration on the ISS.

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/suni_iss_tour.html?mod=article_inline

It’s important to engage with kids, keep the learning going, help maintain their mental health, and keep up their spirits. Hopefully these diversions will help during these trying times.

By dads2dads

Viral Impact

Like you, we have been stuck at home, social distancing, and scrubbing our hands frequently. The Coronavirus has left us isolated and worried. And it’s not just the elderly and infirm that it is affecting. Bill has a relative who died from the virus – 34 years old – after returning from a business trip. How could it have happened? And how do we prevent that sad outcome for others?

A teen’s environment is already a minefield of uncertainty, anxiety and worry. Add to those the volatility of a viral infection whose spread and cure are unknown.  Counselors have been dealing with increasing teen anxiety and depression over recent years. This indiscriminating and mysterious disease only adds to the load.

Listen, learn and teach

This is a time when we need to control the interactions of our kids and listen to them even more carefully. We suggest following:

Follow regulations of the Centers For Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html)

Talk about the virus and its impact on your teen, their friends, and the world. Provide for balance in your discussions. Don’t become consumed with media reports but strive to remain informed.

Ask open-ended questions about how your teen is feeling and how friends are doing. Provide space for your child to respond—and listen carefully without judgment.

Watch for changes in teen behavior, such as withdrawal, obsessive focus on a recent event, even uncharacteristic silence.

Parental involvement can be key to the health of your child. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a teacher, counselor, minister or mental-health professional.

The known unknowns

We need to provide strong love and attention for our kids, know what is going on, and seek outside help when needed. In this uncertain time, perhaps that is the best knowledge to have – the knowledge of what we don’t know.

Developing resilience

Teens who are resilient adapt to bad things in their lives and possess the capacity to recover and move on, maintain perspective, think of things in a constructive way, and take care of themselves.

The American Psychological Association provides some tips for building resilience:

Communicate. Find someone to whom you can express feelings. This could be a parent, sibling, counselor, pastor, teacher, or community or school group.

Cool down. Find peace. Practice mindfulness. Take a few moments each day to let your mind find peace, where you can see the issues you are dealing with and let them pass you by.

Consistency

Find a routine for your day. Although we’ve been limited in our activities, the comfort of even a limited routine provides a sense of security. 

Care. For yourself and for others. Get enough sleep. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Look for ways to help neighbors, family, and friends, even in these trying times.

Control. Set a few modest goals. Think about a time when you overcame a challenge. This success will help increase your confidence. And limit your intake of news, which can increase your stress.

Developing resilience doesn’t eliminate stress or anxiety. But it certainly prepares you to handle it more successfully.

By dads2dads