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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d be blogging about a pandemic. Yet here we are…smack in the middle of Covid-19 and it is testing humankind in a way we haven’t been tested for 100 years. To fight the novel coronavirus in our counties, cities, states, countries, we have to act as one and shelter-in-place. In other words, in order to stem the number of deaths we may face, we have to social distance.

We have to hole up with our family, with roommates, or as singletons for the greater good of our species. And, as easy as that is to say/write, it’s not something we humans are particularly good at. We are, most of us anyway, social beings.

So, what can we do to protect the collective and stay well? That is the question that I, as a mom, have been pondering for the past few weeks. As connection is so important not just to my family, but yours too, here are 35 tips I have found on how to come together while staying apart.

  1. At home, get creative about staying positive: call, email, write a letter or send a card. Leave a note in someone’s door or mail box or on their doorstep.
  2. Use Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, Houseparty, Hangouts, and FaceTime to see one another
  3. If it’s safe to do so, set up a “gate” chat or “driveway” chat with neighbours.
  4. Set up a gratitude message board either in the kitchen or by mobile phone {texting, WhatsApp, iPhone, Facebook, Instagram} where every one can post a message or send a message to share something they are grateful for.
  5. Set a group daily challenge. It could be a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit, a new recipe. Check in daily to stay motivated.
  6. Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with others and message one other your thoughts along the way… I’m enjoying Derry Girls and Ozark, both on Netflix, right now. Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with friends online. You need Chrome to access this service but it sounds like a great way to host and watch movies with friends everywhere.
  7. Join a local social media group. This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.
  8. Younger children might enjoy learning how to draw with Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. Mo is a best-selling author and illustrator and he is teaching drawing every weekday on YouTube.
  9. Help younger children, teens and college-age young adults cope by giving them extra attention and reassurance.  Watch news together and talk about what you’re viewing. If someone feels overwhelmed by what’s they’re seeing, allow them to step away and then circle back and talk about what’s not sitting well with them.
  10. Check-in and share feelings so everyone knows it’s ok to be anxious, nervous, scared.
  11. Involve everyone in home management chores. It’s easier to stay positive when you have a job that’s important to everyone.
  12. Seek professional help if you are concerned.
  13. Watch a live concert, take a virtual tour of a museum or join or start an online dance party. Yo-Yo Ma, via Instagram, the Seattle Symphony and others are finding news ways to share their services during these challenging times. Enjoy free live broadcasts of the symphony from the comfort of your own home. You can learn more about upcoming concerts and how to watch these live broadcasts here.
  14. Many museums around the world are now offering digital access to their collections. The Louvre, Guggenheim, the National Gallery of Ireland, the British Museum of London, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, and the MASP in São Paulo are all available to tour online thanks to their own efforts or through Google Arts & Culture.
  15. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is offering free nightly live opera performances.
  16. The DJ of Boogie Down productions fame, DJ D-Nice is hosting house parties on Instagram. He calls it Club Quarantine! Tag your friends. Tell me about your experience at the party.
  17. Coldplay front man, Chris Martin, is the curator of the annual Global Citizen festival. He launched the “At Home Together” series with an Instagram live video, during which he played several of the band’s hits and spoke to viewers who are in isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.
  18. Billboard Magazine has compiled an enormous list of quarantine music events online to watch on their website.
  19. The Kennedy-Center offers a wide variety of free videos of live and on demand performances and educational activities online.
  20. Join an online game, bookclub or discussion group. Discussions groups, found on sites like SeniorChatters, offer a way for older adults to engage in different topics online. Use these tools to meet other seniors from all over the world and discuss your favorite hobbies.
  21. If you’re a reader, Celadon Books shares their five favorite book clubs that you can join online.
  22. Play games online. Whether you prefer cards or board games, it’s easy to now play a favourite games online. Websites like Arkadium.com offer a variety of card and board games that you can play with others or on your own. You can also download apps on your phone to play games with others, like Words with Friends.
  23. Little ones might enjoy watching Storyline Online, on Youtube, a children’s literacy website created by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, which provides free storytelling videos and resources for parents and teachers to foster a love of reading in children. The website features an expansive library of videos of new and classic picture books read by well-known actors and actresses like Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, and James Earl Jones. In a style akin to Reading Rainbow, stories come to life with dynamic voice performances and animated versions of original illustrations, encouraging children to see reading as a transformative imaginative experience. Arnie the Doughnut is read by Ireland’s one and only Chris O’Dowd.
  24. Save with Stories, started by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams in partnership with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry, is offering stories on Instagram and Facebook to provide fun and education to kids and parents stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
  25. Audible has launched a free collection of audiobooks for children. Amazon’s Kindle is offering two free months to its unlimited ebook service for new users.
  26. Broaden the mind and take a class. Ivy League schools have made nearly 500 online courses free to keep individuals occupied while stuck indoors. The online courses can be found on Class Central and include subjects in mathematics, programming, personal development, education and more.
  27. Coursera, an American online learning platform, started by two Stanford professors, offers classes for free that are taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies.
  28. Move your body and quiet your mind. Joining the Fitness Blender community, and others like it, will give you the chance to take free classes and stay healthy. Fitness Blender, in particular, offers 600+ workout videos and an online network of fitness-friendly instructors.
  29. Meditate with Headspace, is a guided meditation service, being offered for free through the Headspace app. The programs include meditations, sleep and movement exercises which you can listen to any time.
  30.  Core Power Yoga, a popular yoga studio chain in America, is currently offering free online classes through its Core Power Yoga On Demand platform. The classes are pre-recorded and range from 30 minutes to up to an hour long. The studio is also offering online guided breathing practices and meditations.
  31. 305 Fitness, one of NYC’s most popular dance-cardio workout classes is now offering free cardio dance live streams twice a day on YouTube at noon and 6PM EST.
  32. No Peloton bike? No problem. In response to Covid-19, the Peloton App is opening up to new users for a full 90 days. The app, which includes at-home bootcamp, outdoor, and running workouts. After 90 days, there is a fee, so be sure to mark your calendars.
  33. Food feeds the soul…and the empty stomach. Learn the basics, and not so basics, of cooking in all forms from online experts. Massimo Bottura, for example, is teaching from his new Kitchen Quarantine classes on Instagram. Also, Chef Thomas Keller takes us inside his own kitchen while teaching technique and recipes on Instagram. Chef Jose Andres does the same with his #recipesforthepeople. Irish chef, Donal Skehan has his own YouTube channel, if you want to get caught up on cooking Irish style. And while Rachel Allen doesn’t have her own channel, you can find many of her Irish cooking recipes Rachel Allen.
  34. Learn a new language…Spanish, French, Mandarin or even Irish perhaps?! There are online learning platforms offering free language skills including Babbel, Duolingo, Busuu, Learn a Language.
  35. Teach a class. I love to cook and have started using social media as a way of connecting to others who like to cook too. I’m teaching my first bread making class this Thursday to a group of ladies via Zoom. Think about a skill you have and reach out to your family, friends, and social media followers to see if anyone would like to meet up weekly to share or teach a class.

Remember – we are all in this terrible time of Covid-19 together. If we can find creative ways to stay together but stay apart…we have a fighting chance to see a better tomorrow. And, as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said yesterday, “We cannot lose focus. What we’re doing is difficult but it is making a difference.”

Stay healthy. Stay safe. And, message me if you have any more ideas.

~ XK

 

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There’s something exciting and wonderful about January and the start of a new year. It’s a blank slate…don’t you think?…the chance to create something wonderful in our life and the world at large. It’s an opportunity to renew relationships and commitments or scrap the ones that didn’t work for us in the past.

Resolution, intention, purpose, goal, conscious thought…whatever you/we call our outlook for the coming twelve months…I am glad we are here today and have the chance to think about the next 363 tomorrows in 2018.

My intention this year is LOVE. 

I thought about other words and phrases: do better, be more, simplify, focus, get healthy, gratitude, travel, family, thankful, be positive, trust, faith, find joy, be present…but they didn’t resonate as much as LOVE did.

So this year…I’m going to practice Love of Self, Love of Others, Love of Work, Love of Learning, Love of Travel, Love of Being Strong, Love of Cooking, Love of Parenting, the Love of Letting Go…and more. Love, love, love…isn’t it just grand?

What is your intention, purpose, goal, conscious thought, resolution or “word” for 2018?

~ XoK

 

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Today a friend of mine posted a letter on Facebook that was written by a mom to her fourteen-year-old daughter. It stuck such a cord with me, and is such a perfect follow up to the post I did last week entitled “Teen Angst“, that I had to interrupt my Sundance blogging to share it with you.

As my friend Niamh wrote on FB…” (it’s) relevant to anyone navigating the world with teens or preteens.” AMEN to that sister.

Rearing kids isn’t easy. Rearing a teen/preteen is bloody hard work. And, I would do it all again…in a heartbeat…because I love my children.

Thanks Niamh for sending this my way. Amy Foster…you stole the words right out of my mouth.

A Letter to a 14 Year-Old Daughter

By Amy Foster

Dear Daughter,

Right now you are upstairs in your room thinking that life is completely and totally unfair.

The whole world is against you because there is not a single person in it that understands you. You would say that you love your friends, but the truth is that  you love them more on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram than you do in real life. In real life, you can only handle spending so much time with them before they start to annoy you because, as I mentioned before, no one really understands who you are.

Your room is a pigsty. The clothes that you beg for me to buy you are crumpled in a heap in the corner. When asked to clean – when asked to do anything, really – you roll your eyes (not to my face, because you are smart enough at this point to know that will set me off) because you have a thousand more important things to do like watch Teen Wolf or check your phone.

You are both obsessed with and terrified by boys.

Some days you think you are pretty. Some days you are certain you are the ugliest person on earth. You are sure you are being left out.. of something. Some party, some conversation, some sleepover is happening and you were deliberately excluded because no one cares how you feel. You have every right in the world to be moody because life is hard. Grade 8 is pointless. There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t been able to get into the college they wanted to because they got crappy grades in Grade 8. Mostly though, life is just hard and complicated and difficult and confusing. Despite this, you are never given the credit you deserve for always knowing what’s what. You know what is best for you and there is nothing more irritating than someone else (like me) presuming that they know.

I realize that when I broach these topics with you, you will not hear me. Despite all appearances, you are not a small adult. You cannot reason like an adult and so it is impossible for you to understand that I am trying to help you and guide you and not, ruin your life. This privilege I exert does not necessarily come from biology, it comes from the fact that I have been exactly where you are and I have been navigating this life for a lot longer than you. It is true that everyone has a story, and everyone’s story is unique, but loss, pain, anger, confusion and sadness are universal. These feelings don’t separate you from the world, but rather they bind you closer to it. Someone out there is feeling the exact same way you do right now, including me, my dearest girl, and I am only a few feet away. There will never be and can never be another you, but you are part of a magnificent community of humans. Humanity at times can be brutal and petty and mean-spirited, but that’s never an excuse for you to be that way. You are so much more and so much better than a bad day.

I am not your friend. I don’t care what you think about me. I am not aiming for popularity in our house. Most importantly, we are not equals. Think about it: how can we be equals if you depend on me for everything? If you’re going to take the iPhone, then you have to take my rules. Some people call it parenting. Mercenary me, I call it leverage. When you don’t need me for things, only advice and council, then we can explore a friendship.

When I ask you to do something right now, I am trying to teach you something about success. Procrastination is a dream killer. No one ever became a grand success by doing it later. You’re right, your room is yours. I am less concerned with the state of it than I am of your mind. Ever see a happy person on Hoarders? It sounds ridiculous to you, but a clean space makes it easier to be creative and productive. When you let your room slide, you are likely to let everything else slide too, like homework.

I am not a Tiger Mom. I am not interested in you getting straight As (though, of course, that would be great), I am interested in you doing your absolute best. Sometimes you do your best and you fail, and you need to learn to be okay with that, too. You must learn to be good AT school, so it will be easier for you to be good AT college and AT work. Yes, of course, it’s pandering to a system, but everyone, regardless of status has to work within a system, unless you’re becoming a hermit which let’s face it, is never going to happen. When you become overly concerned with pleasing your friends and making them happy it takes away from your focus, your job, which right now is school. The balance you learn to strike right now will carry you through your entire life where friendships can be vital. But, you cannot rely on a great friendship to buy you a house.

I don’t tell you often enough how beautiful you are. Even though you are stunning, I do guess I do this on purpose. Being beautiful should never be the most interesting thing about you. A girl who relies on her looks is setting herself up to be a woman lost as sea as she gets older. We live in a world where beauty can and will open many doors, but how you choose to open them and what you do inside becomes about character. Character, moral aptitude, empathy, grace- these are the traits that will carry on your beauty far after your looks are gone. You aren’t anywhere near understanding this right now, even though I am trying to lead this charge by example. When you look at me all you see is old, and mom.

Unbelievably though, I was young (and not so long ago, I might add) once, and nothing you can say will shock me. In point of fact, if I was to over share and talk about some of the things I’ve done, or still do actually, on a pretty regular basis with your step dad, it is you that would be shocked. Don’t worry, I would never, because like I said, we are not friends. I promise you this, though: as long as you tell me the truth, you will never get into trouble, though I can’t promise I won’t be disappointed.

Until you have children of your own, you won’t realize the depth in which I love you. I would do anything for you and it is the great irony of life that the person I love most, I get treated the worst by. I am your greatest cheerleader and your biggest fan. Sometimes you scream “Why do you hate me!” when I am doing my job as a mother. You don’t understand that if I indeed hated you, or felt a far more heinous thing, indifference, I simply wouldn’t bother. I would let you get on with it and shrug my shoulders and not say a word. When I stand my ground and open myself up to your vitriol and disregard and general railroading, that, my dear, is love.

The most important thing for you to understand is though you may be convinced otherwise, whatever happens in this crazy, upside down life, you will never, ever be alone. So maybe, just once in a while, will you keep this in mind and be a little kinder to me.

Your ever loving,

Mom

 

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