A day after the governor of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency, our family of seven began our coronavirus lockdown. That was March 12. As of this writing, we have spent over two weeks inside our home.
Well, or in nature with only each other and local wildlife (squirrels, birds, wild turkeys, geese, and foxes) for company. My husband and I go into town very sparingly, and only to shop for essential groceries.
Contact with anyone outside of our immediate family takes place solely via computer screens and phones.
Our brood of children has a large range of ages: from 19 years old down to 4. The oldest two are now studying remotely. They must attempt to sleep, study, and listen to online academic lectures despite their younger siblings’ constant hubbub.
They contact their friends online, but definitely miss meeting up with them in person. However, they take the pandemic seriously and don’t even ask to go out and mingle with others.
The youngest three children feel their world has been turned upside-down. Their elementary school was closed suddenly. They didn’t get to say goodbye to classmates and teachers.
They also didn’t have any time to mentally prepare for a life confined mostly to their home. The youngest miss their friends, sports, and activities, but are slowly adjusting to having lessons at home.
So far, they are not nearly as hardworking for their current teacher (me) as they are for their regular teachers! I am trying to be patient. Knowing that this lockdown has taken all children by surprise, I understand many will need extra support and encouragement.
Only the four-year-old seems completely happy with the turn of events. She suddenly has siblings to play with all day, and both parents nearby. At least one member of our family is thoroughly enjoying the lockdown!
Quickly, we have found lockdown to be a unique opportunity for heightened connection and quality time. Here are some of the activities my family have been enjoying during isolation:
1 -Hikes, Picnics, and Scavenger Hunts
We’re making the most of the Great Outdoors these days! We get outside in nature during all kinds of weather because it’s really the only place we can go.
It’s spring in New England. In addition to warm sunshine, we’ve also experienced rain, snow, and fog over the past two weeks. We’ve taken walks in all weather conditions because getting outside and exercising always improves our mental outlook.
On nice days we pack a picnic lunch and eat in the middle of a field, far from fellow hikers. Other days we use a scavenger hunt list found for free and printed off the internet. We challenge ourselves to find all the items on it.
2 – Family Game Night
This is the children’s favorite part of the day. We have found it is effective to use it as a reward for good behavior and diligent studying. My husband and I play board and card games with the youngest kids, often serving a special snack, too.
Our teens don’t always want to join in the more childish games. So, sometimes we have a separate game night with them, after the youngest ones have gone to bed. That’s when true competition takes place!
3 – Story Time
Every day, usually right before bedtime, I read a chapter of a children’s book aloud for my three youngest kids. They savor story time because it’s a time of low stress, snuggles, and uninterrupted togetherness. I turn off my phone, keeping this time completely dedicated to my kids.
4 – Group Prayer
Because of our busy and diverse schedules, it’s rare that my family can pray together. But the lockdown has created a great opportunity to offer salat as a group. My husband leads, and it’s the way we had always envisioned and desired.
The lockdown is also a wonderful chance to increase our kids’ Islamic studies and Qur’an memorization. Their academic load is lighter, so alhumdulillah!
5 – Chores
Some parents, suddenly thrust into homeschooling with little guidance or curriculum, wonder what on earth to teach their children.
Well, household chores are important life skills that kids will not learn at school, and now is the perfect opportunity to give lessons!
I’m teaching my 8 year old to wash and dry her laundry, and my 7- and 4- year olds are keeping their bedroom clean and helping to set and clear the kitchen table. There are innumerable life skills that parents can teach their children at home!
6 – Audio Books
During the coronavirus pandemic, Audible is offering some free audio books. The whole family can enjoy listening to them while coloring, tidying up, cooking, or crafting.
7 – Crafting
Speaking of crafting, we are admittedly not the craftiest family, but we are taking advantage of some free online tutorials that inspire us.
In our wider community, crafty families are sewing masks for doctors and nurses, making cards for quarantined elderly people, and even brewing homemade hand sanitizer for their neighbors. Now is the chance for knitters, potters, painters, and other artisans to really shine!
8 – Online Lectures
Increasing our Islamic knowledge is a top priority, especially with Ramadan around the corner! YouTube has numerous online lectures from well-known scholars, and AlMaghrib Institute is offering its Faith Essentials video lectures free for three weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.
We can view the lockdown as a burden and our home as a prison, or we can try to make the most of this time together.
InshaAllah when our children grow up and look back on the coronavirus pandemic, they won’t remember a time of panic and deprivation, but rather many happy memories of togetherness with their family and reliance on Allah SWT.