I Had to Quarantine from My Kids Many Times. Here’s How My Partner and I Make It Work.
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I believe it is very important to begin this story by stating that while emotionally difficult, being able to isolate safely from one’s family is an enormous privilege. I am exiting my third extensive quarantine from my children and husband following medical procedures that put me at risk of exposure. And I was only able to take this precaution because:
- I have a home that allows me to be physically separate from my family
- I have a partner who can take the time to take care of my children
- I do not need to leave the house for work, essentials, or anything other than my own healthcare.
That said, during these times, I also learned how to stay connected to my family while physically keeping a distance. Which may come in handy now — if you find yourself in a situation where you must isolate. And even post pandemic — when we travel once again for work, need to recuperate for health needs, or simply continue to connect with loved ones from afar. So in that spirit and with the hope of making a rough time a little easier, I share these ideas to help you delight your dear ones at a distance and fill the days with amusing distractions.
For a simple way to stay connected, look no further than letter writing. For two of my procedures, I knew ahead of time I would need to quarantine. So, in advance, I wrote a letter for each day I would be “away” and hid them in silly places (like, inside the sock drawer and with the silverware). That way, each morning provided a little hunt as well as a surprise. Another fun version of this is to write a few sentences of a story on each card. Like an advent calendar, each day they get to literally unfold the next part of the tale. And then, you can piece it all together once the story (and your time apart!) comes to an end.
For those times when I could not prep ahead, I found other ways to send my daily mail. Sometimes, I taped letters to the outside of my bedroom door — high enough so my kids would not be able to touch them. Or I would send my husband daily morning videos. However your letters arrive to your loved ones, you may also start to find that you get some fan mail in return, too.
During my time apart, not only did I wish to find ways to play with my kids, but also ways to help out my partner. Especially during dinner and bedtime. Using Zoom or FaceTime, we would set up what I like to call my evening “Comedy Hour.” During this hour stretch, I read riddles and jokes. Or I would take on a silly persona — like Edna, the owner of a magical zoo who loved to tell stories about all her animals. No matter the material, doing something silly was an easy way to amuse my 3- and 8-year-old, simultaneously, while also giving my partner free time to cook dinner, fold laundry, or simply take a breath.
Dive into Books
For my older child, I found that reading from a favorite series provided a consistent way to connect as well as something we could both look forward to every day. We typically used Zoom or Facetime for our nightly reading hangouts, but this is something easily done at a distance with a mask, as well. And virtual storytime works incredibly well with younger children, too. Make it extra special by asking your child to pick out three books, to leave them at your door, and then signal the drop off with a special “knock” or a secret password. With this little twist, a simple routine gets a bit of a magical makeover.
I have learned many lessons about creativity and resilience from my children this past year. But one of my favorite tricks I picked up was the virtual sleepover. Early on, my daughter and her friends realized they could enjoy many of the perks of a late evening hang out, all on Zoom. By sharing a screen, they watched drawing tutorials together on YouTube (the favorite being Art Hub for Kids), played Pictionary, and even enjoyed episodes of their top TV shows or movies. So while I isolated, I tore this page from their playbook and planned a few virtual sleepover dates with my kids, too. I found that a little break from the usual routine (and maybe a little popcorn, too), went a long way for perking up moods.
Plan Something Together
A fun and easy distance activity to enjoy with your kid — which requires nothing but your imagination — is to plan something for the future. Maybe it is the ideal schedule for the day you return. Maybe it is an upcoming birthday and the epic cake you will make. Maybe it is an ideal vacation to a distant tropical island of your own imagination or to a planet in a far off galaxy, and everything you will pack. Whatever the subject of your plans, enjoy dreaming up the details of your future plans, together.