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March 31, 2020
 

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How local parents cope with the coronavirus

By Liz Gordon-Hancock
If the last couple days are any indication, I’m in for a very bumpy, noisy, hectic ride. Parents across the state are scrambling to find childcare and/or helping their children accomplish learning at home, all whilst preparing for the possibility of enforced isolation from the coronavirus.

What can we, as parents, do to help our families and communities weather this storm? 
I asked doctor and fellow mom, JoAnna “Anna” Kauffman, MD, for how we should handle this situation: “Social distancing is absolutely what we need right now. This will likely be the case for some time.  I love hanging out with people and find this challenging, but we have no treatment for COVID-19 at this time except supportive care… We need to minimize social contact to keep from overwhelming hospital systems. We have limited supplies, staff, and ventilators and if everyone gets sick at once we will be overwhelmed.”

If these words are sobering, they should be.  But, as Beth Bish, certified nurse practitioner of Bluffton Pediatrics said: “We want you to be informed, but not scared.”

So it’s time to be anti-social, and this should even include family outside your own household, especially if they’re in poor health or over the age of 60.

However, this does not mean we ignore our neighbors – make contact with your near neighbors, by calling or putting a note on their door with your contact details. Offer to make grocery runs for elderly neighbors and drop their items on the porch.

Ask your mom friends for advice; when I need advice, I go to “supermom” Amanda Stechschulte, mother of four.

She said “My plan to survive this coronavirus is to have food in the house; have kids take turns help cook meals. Spend time with each child on school work each day; pray for good weather so we can go outside and get some fresh air and Vitamin D; play lots of music and board games; do puzzles and craft projects. Most of all, just take things one day at a time, and check in with friends and family regularly. Above all, pray and focus on our family and keeping them all healthy. Oh, and who can forget the laundry?” 

In my house, we’re stocking up on food. We’re teaching my kids to play solitaire with actual cards, not on the computer. We’re debating a camping trip to an unpopulated location to self-isolate in style. But at the moment, my main focus is schooling.

How to set up a learning environment at home
I asked local mom, Krysti Schey, for advice, as I knew she has given the subject a lot of thought and is starting to homeschool her eldest, while juggling two younger siblings.  She claims it’s easier than you think.

Schey said “Don’t try to recreate school at home. It will not be the same… Try to think about your child and what they and you naturally enjoy doing. For us it is reading books. So, we do tons of our learning that way.”

Schey said a lot of “school” in the home is just by involving children in your routine and work around the house: “Show them things you are doing. Help them see how they will use math and ‘real world’ skills in real life. Have them read the laundry detergent label and measure out the correct amount of detergent. Have them help you triple your cookie recipe and halve your candy recipe. If you’ve gone shopping, have them guess the amount spent on eggs, for example, and then tell them how much eggs actually cost. Have them come up with the difference between their guess and the actual amount… Most things that we do during the day can be used as a learning experience.”

School does not have to be “work” – learning can be fun too.

Why not exchange numbers with school friends and have video chats via FaceTime or Skype?

Local businesses need your support
Small, locally owned and operated businesses are likely to be hit hard over the next couple months. They are still open. When you can, support your local shops, rather than going to your favorite superstore. Many local businesses are willing to deliver locally or offer curbside payment and pick-up, just call and ask.

Consider buying gift cards from your favorite local stores, either to use later, or gift to others. That way, the business gets income now, which you can “spend” later.

Our downtown businesses are the engine of our local economy and contribute substantially to making our town what it is – please do all you can to support local businesses and keep them going strong.

Remember, pandemics are nothing new. But this is new to our modern generation.

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