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The 2020 pandemic has been rough, but we have great ideas for keeping things special and spicing up life even during quarantine!

Anybody else ready for 2021? 

Ya. 

Me. Too.

This year has been HARD! (It has also been filled with tender mercies and blessings, but it’s ok to acknowledge that it has been hard). It’s been hard on us as adults but it’s also been hard on our sweet kiddos. A frequent thing that comes out of my daughter’s mouth is “I wish Coronavirus didn’t exist!” I don’t think anyone would argue with her either haha.

My husband and I realized that it was up to us, now more than ever, to make sure we made things special for them. 

How do we make things special in a quarantine? I’ve come up with a few ideas.

How to Make Magic During Quarantine

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New Projects!

When the country shut down mid-March, we bought a new project for everyone in our family. This helped us have something to look forward to and have something to work on during quarantine. 

Project Ideas: 
  1. Craft kits- my daughter chose a crochet kit from Amazon. She loves to be crafty.
  2. Legos- these three-in-one kits are super cool and can be transformed over and over.
  3. New toys- my kids get out our magnets almost everyday and love these new pieces that make building “creations” easier.
  4. Books- we also let each of our kids choose a new book. My daughter loves chapter books and devours them instead of reading them so this was especially great for her. 
  5. New skills- one of my New Years’ resolutions every year is to learn a new skill. When quarantine hit I ordered this book on lettering so I could learn to write pretty notes. 
  6. Workout equipment- my mom bought a treadmill! My husband didn’t go that extreme, but he did buy some new running shoes, headphones, and clothes so that he would have an easier time keeping his running goal on track. (HA! See what I did there?)
  7. Also, I totally did that whole quarantine baking thing. I love to bake anyways and my husband bought a 25-pound bag of flour when everyone went crazy at the grocery store. My kids love to help in the kitchen so each week we’d bake something new. We made bread, cinnamon rolls, chocolate rolls, dinner rolls, artisan bread, soda bread, cookies, more bread. Do you sense a theme? Thanks to Lo’s Kitchen for her incredible recipes and life-changing tips! (Not sponsored AT ALL. Lori is a personal friend and it doesn’t hurt that she’s really good at what she does. It hurts my diet. But I’m not complaining.)

Make Some New Traditions!

 We did a Pizza and movie night- we already had weekly pizza night, but after getting Disney+ and being in quarantine we decided to add a family movie onto that night as well.

We rotate each week who chooses the movie and so far it has been a great family bonding activity. It has also been especially fun introducing our kids to some of the old classics.

My daughter loves to read, and it makes my husband and I so happy! We are both avid readers and love to see those skills and love building in her.

I decided to introduce her to my very favorite series ever- Harry Potter. We decided to read one chapter a night and we are already on book 5! (We would probably be on book 6, but we’ve missed a few nights here and there).

I have loved that extra time with just her, as during the days her brothers demand most of my attention, either by being naughty or by being young.

She now loves Harry Potter and begs for more than one chapter a night. I have loved sharing these stories and characters that I love so much with my sweet girl. After we’re done, we’ll watch the movies. This nightly tradition has made the pandemic not so bad for that half-hour every night. 

Virtual Family Time

We had two cancelled family vacations which was a huge bummer. We did end up going to still visit our families but the planned vacation with everyone was lost.

We decided to do weekly (at least) FaceTime calls with the grandparents. My kids loved showing their grandparents what they had been working on. It has been a great way to continue building those relationships and special bonds even while we are so far away and locked down.

Pandemic Playdates

When quarantine started, the thing my kids were most worried about was playdates! Being on lockdown made those a little tricky so we had to be creative.

I let my daughter Facetime her friends and cousins (with their parents’ permission) and send videos on Marco Polo as much as possible. This helped her still feel connected to all of them outside of their zoom classes.

We also met up with my son’s little best friend weekly at Sonic. We would get drinks and slushes, roll down the windows so the kids could see and talk to each other and the moms could chat.

That mom has now become one of my very best friends! It was a great way to let my son “play” with his friend and for me to get some human interaction from a safe distance. 

Date Night

My husband and I try to go out at least twice a month. It doesn’t always pan out and that came to a screeching halt during the lockdown. But we had to keep dating, because it’s so good for our relationship.

We spend that time focused on each other and our relationship instead of the million and 5 things on our to do lists, work and kids. We NEED that together time! So we got creative again.

We ordered food from a new place (Shake Shack…YUMMMMMMM!), I rented a movie from Amazon Prime that we hadn’t seen, we got dressed up for each other and it was so fun!

We ordered the food to arrive about half an hour after the kids went down so we had a good buffer zone for them to fall asleep. Instead of watching the movie on our bed like we do most nights, we went downstairs to our basement TV for a change of scenery.

It was so fun to snuggle on the couch, eat good food and just be together. It is something that is now always on our “To do” list. 

See more ways to date at home here.

Holidays

We have tried to make holidays extra magical, and that has included lots of things. 

My parents helped with Easter by sending my kids a ton of eggs filled with candy and money. My kids loved running around our house hunting for eggs. 

Like usual, we try to do fun things for food on holidays like Valentine’s (pink food), St. Patrick’s (green food), and the Fourth of July (red, white, and blue feast). 

Halloween has been the trickiest because we chose not to trick or treat, but so many people were! My kids felt like they were seriously missing out. We decided to go on a walk with their bikes and skateboards which they’re always begging to do.

Then after dinner, they got dressed up in their costumes and my husband hid in the bathroom with different costumes and let the kids trick or treat to him as a different person each time. They thought it was HILARIOUS!

We then let them eat their candy while having a basement sleepover. This is a rare occurrence, so they treasure each time they’re allowed to. With all the candy and treats they ate, I think they ended the night on a happy note. (More alternative trick-or-treating ideas here!)

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are tentatively planning on traveling to family. If COVID numbers rise or conditions worsen, we will definitely reevaluate because it’s just not worth the risk.

We have decorated for Thanksgiving and each day we talk about things we are grateful for. I hope this is helping them to have a more positive outlook as they are looking for things that they are grateful for. 

Before we leave for Christmas, our kindness elf “Jingles” will be visiting and bringing us kindness activities (and probably an extra treat/gift or two) to do. This helps us remember the reason for the season instead of just focusing on toys. Click here for more Christmas tradition ideas!

Losing Yourself in the Service of Others

service ideas during quarantine

I am a huge extrovert. When the lockdown was announced I knew that I was going to have to find a way to keep my mental health stable. My daughter is the same way and I was especially worried about her. 

We decided to pray daily for ways we could serve others even on lockdown. We sent cards, had meals delivered, sent fun videos etc. This helped us SO much! We were focused on others instead of having a pity party and that made a huge difference for us.

I frequently tell my children (especially my sweet girl), “We can’t control that the virus happened. We can only control our attitudes and how we handle it.” Serving others has helped all of us have better attitudes and better outlooks during this pandemic. 

Saying ‘Yes’ as Much as I Can

I am a control freak. I like things a certain way and we have well-established rules in our house. I set a goal to say ‘yes’ to as many things as I can during this time because this pandemic has wreaked such havoc on my sweet kids.

When they want to bring their toys to my bedroom while I’m in class, I say yes. When they ask me to make cookies for their movie night, I say yes. When they want to snuggle for five more minutes before we get ready for school, I say yes (if time permits).

It has been a struggle for me, but I’ve seen such a positive change in my kids as my husband and I have tried to say ‘yes’ to everything that we could. 

I’m always on the lookout for more ways to make things magical! Please let me know what y’all have done to keep the magic alive for your families during quarantine!!!

-Tara

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