The pandemic has forced all of us to stay home. I wondered how different families are coping so I will feature friends at different stages of family life to share how they are handling life. Today, Ruth Morales who has three adult children (aged 18, 20, 26) living with her and husband Zac shares.
After 8 weeks on ECQ, I asked my daughters how they think we were doing as a family. “We’re coping okay! The movies help me keep entertained, and there are many other things I could do in the house”, says the younger. “It helps that you allow us to keep in touch with our friends online. It would have been difficult to not have contacts with them” says the older and more extroverted child. No one grumbled or complained that they were bored. Our family must have done something right. So I came up with the following list that I believe are factors why our family is coping well.
Make meal time a family event. Access to our usual food may be limited but we have enough time to experiment on new recipes. There’s no rush so we have time to even set the table nicely. We give the children a chance to show off their skills in preparing our meals. They take turns and take it as a challenge to be creative. So we have more variety than usual and there’s always something to look forward to everyday. The children are also learning their way in the kitchen so it’s an opportunity to teach them some life skills. “ECQ made me interested in cooking,” says the youngest child. Even our prayer before meals has also expanded from the usual thanking the Lord for His provision to now also praying for all the frontliners and the rest of the world. We are learning more about empathy and social responsibility.
Feed them right. Nutrition affects our mental state so we make sure that we are feeding the family right with fresh and whole foods. We reserve canned and processed foods only in times when fresh fruits and vegetables are not accessible. Our small vegetable garden helps a lot. Leafy vegetables like alugbati and kangkong are easy to grow even in pots. Since our city is abundant with fruits, we take advantage of that. Even a simple banana can make a difference in our temperament.
Communicate what’s happening. Although this kind of pandemic is first in history, parents still have the better grasp of what’s happening than the children. Right perspective equals positive attitude. So we want our children to understand that ECQ is for our protection and not just a list of restrictions. This perspective help us not criticize or resent the government’s prohibitions. We use mealtimes as opportunity to have family conversations about what’s going on, what’s viral and trending in the internet, and how other countries are doing. We want them to be aware that there are more people who are in worse condition. We also exchange ideas and plans, or places to go after ECQ. We even have fun brainstorming on what to do or what to bring when there’s emergency evacuation or zombie attack. Conversations around the table help us discern the emotional and mental state of our children. It’s also a good time to remind them to be productive and guide them to align their plans with the new normal.
Keep them busy: Everyone in our home is doing a chore or a hobby like gardening, baking, taking care of pets, etc. Their weekly online Bible Study Group is also something that my children look forward to. “Thank you, Mom, for making the house a cozy world for us”, my daughter said one day. We have a tiny house but I made it spacey for everyone to freely move around the house, and for each member to have a little nook for me-time. I change curtains and rearrange some furniture from time to time. I’m also glad that we have invested in music instruments, crafts and art materials which come handy these days. This week, we challenge their creativity to do fun projects like writing stories. It’s not really just for the sake of keeping them busy. It’s making the most of our extended free time at home.
The above list is just a few of what works to ensure the safety and welfare of our family during this time of pandemic. We can always trust God to give us wisdom (James 1:5) and take comfort on His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).