What to do in China Virus Shut Down

It is a time of forced at-home-ness- for most of us. Some, deemed to be working at indispensable jobs, are working more hours than ever. It means something a little different for each of us. Some are busier than ever with small children at home, but no outside activities to let off steam or permit the bigger kids to play with their friends. Screens in use more make for more fractious tempers and shorter attention spans for math. Stress makes for shorter attentions spans, as well.

 

I have no grand plans and schemes to offer in this post.  I have small things, because it is the small things that will probably make or break you during times of stress.

Sing- I can tell you all kinds of things about how singing has been shown to increase your happy hormones and better organize your stress hormones and lift spirits and increase bonding.  But you’ll figure this out yourselves if you just do more singing.  Ways to help make it happen: Keep a book stand  and a hymnal over the kitchen sink and sing hymns while washing dishes. (or a plate stand, or prop up a clip board, or tape some printed lyrics to the wall or window) Or print out a hymn and tape it to the window or wall behind the sink.  If you’re not into hymns, try folk songs. If you’re not into either of those, use the songs of your youth and youtube.  Just sing, loudly and often, softly and low.  Don’t spend too much time planning how to make this work, just quickly slap something together so you can sing.

Keep your sense of humour.  Always find something to laugh about. Before you want to scream or cry or stomp your feet, stop yourself and see if you can see the funny side to whatever it is. It’s okay to cry, scream, stomp and grieve. Sometimes that helps a lot.  But other times, it helps more to look at the ridiculous side.  Personally, I was body slammed by my own outside trashcan this morning in a high wind.  And I probably missed the trash pick up time window anyway.  I did cry, and then I laughed and laughed, because how ridiculous is it to have the wind slam a large rubbish bin square into your back?

Keep a bluetooth speaker in the bathroom with an audio book loaded and ready to go.  This is how I got through Bleak House one hectic summer when I had no time for reading- every time I showered I turned on the tape player (how’s that for dating myself?!) and listened to another few pages of Dickens.  I checked it out from our library. You can’t go to the library, you can stream stories all plague long for free via Audible.  Learn

Your small child might as well (or even better) learn the names of local birds, flowers, trees, or sea shells as the ABCs- whatever it is that interests you, or could interest you, find a good guide book at the library or online, and determine to learn at least one new item to identify (and teach your child) each week.  Try a bird feeder in your back yard or hanging from your balcony.  Make it at home or order it online (One of my daughters took a clean coffee creamer bottle with a couple holes cut out at the bottom sides, glued it with woodshop glue to a disposable plastic plate with a lip. You could use anything, really, tied some twine around it and hung it from a shepherd’s crook in their yard in town.

Consider the formidable list of attainments for a child of six here, and work toward them with your children. You will find much that nourishes your soul as well as your child’s in pursuing those goals.

Here’s a worthy daily goal for you and your family- each day, find yourselves ‘something to love, something to do, and something to think about.’  At the end of the day journal it, or discuss it with each other, or just lay quietly in your bed and reflect on those things for that day.

Buy art calendars at mid year, when they are marked down half price or more, and cut them apart, putting the prints up where you can see them- from your bed, from your child’s bed when you are snuggling him to sleep (it may resemble a death lock, but I prefer to call it snuggling), or, again, on the bathroom wall. Paring this down, I’m saying to just find something visual that pleases you, nurtures your soul, gives you something to think about, takes you outside yourself, and put it where it can continue to do those things.
If at all possible, and believe me, I know it isn’t- try and support some local, personal connection.  You can do this by ordering through a local used bookstore (my favourite has gone from walk ins to order by mail only, and I just placed a bigger order than I would have to help them out).   Buy from a family selling stuff online.  Buy directly from an artist- This is not an affiliate link, just a link to a struggling black artist whose work has touched me (some of it makes me mad, but art does that, too! Trump unboxing antivirus software makes me laugh, and backwoods baptism just lifts my spirits)-  go to http://mentnelson.com and use code STAYSAFE to get 25% off your purchase.  I get nothing from this, except a spark of hope that somebody reading this will be able to bless him and bless yourselves by purchasing one of his pieces (original or prints, the prints are the most affordable).

Listen to music or work on memorizing verses at a set time each day, tie it to some other activity, such as while going to sleep or while fixing breakfast. Try Isaiah 61m verses 3 and 4:

So the redeemed of the LORD will return and enter Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

(Bible verses are my preferences and what I think will help the most, but if that’s not you, go for poetry)

Foster an internal sense of gratitude, looking with thoughtful appreciation at daily things as simple and as marvelous as an apple, a baby’s fist, a spring flower, a dandelion, a blade of grass, the shape of a cloud, the arch of your child’s foot, the curve of your husband’s cheek, the scent of an orange, the smoothness of your clean counter, the construction of your favorite shirt, the wonders of modern washing machines.

Print out a poem, a chapter from Psalms or some other Bible passage, a passage from Shakespeare, or an essay that interests you- or cut it from the paper.  Put it on a bulletin board in the bathroom, or on cork board just inside a bathroom or kitchen cupboard, or on a bulletin board or clip board near where you nurse or change diapers.  You can read it aloud to your small tot- they mainly like the sound of your voice in the baby years and will be just as nourished if you read Shakespeare’s sonnet about those who are the ‘lords and owners of their faces’ as if you had recited Twinkle, Twinkle.  And you can do both.

At least, there are times when you can do all these things.  Sometimes, you do what you can when you can, to save up for those times when you, well, can’t.

Quarantine well.  You decide what that looks like.

 

 

 

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