Bring it to Barb


Dear Barb,

The coronavirus has been life changing for everybody, but being at home all day with my children has been difficult as time goes on. My three children are almost teenagers and we are feeling the close quarters syndrome in a serious way. Any ideas or suggestions to reschedule our lives and survive this? 


Socially Lacking 

Dear Socially Lacking,

Kids need structure. School is very structured, so maintain the same morning routine such as teeth brushing, getting dressed and have a lunch time the same. Studies have shown that a structured lifestyle actually feels less stressful to children of any age.

This is not a vacation for your children, so take this opportunity to have them learn lots of lessons outside of the classroom. Teach them to do laundry properly, change a tire, or do a room makeover together in their room by organizing or rearranging their room. This may give them a feeling of a fresh start. Most things like curtains, organizing bins, lamps and accessories can be ordered online. 

Maybe learn a new language together or separately thru Rosetta Stone. It is completely online-based with 24 languages. Music is a great outlet and may be a way to allow your children to be creative. A musical instrument and a microphone could be the start of a new interest or career. 

Goggle Maps is fun to virtually walk around areas in other countries and places, and who knows – maybe your next vacation can be planned around what you explore now. You can tour Yellowstone National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

All these ideas have a common thread – keeping your mind busy. Your brain can be susceptible to atrophy just as your muscles in your body when they are not used or engaged for more than 10 days. Mindless television uses different pathways of the brain than the above activities I’ve suggested. Keep the television offuntil the evening or similar to your previous patterns of viewing before this Virus occurred, or 24/7 will become the new normal and habits are hard to break. 

To help with the social interaction deficit you are feeling, on regularly scheduled days contact a relative or grandparent for your kids to chat or reconnect. Using Skype, Facetime, Facebook and other social media will break up the day as well. 

It is important to also allow some structured time for your children to read or color or craft separately each day (not television). This will give them some autonomy to do whatever they want, giving them a sense of power. 

It is not easy to adjust to this change of living together all day and all night. Once you set down the new schedules for them (with some of your children’s ideas), it will soon become the new normal until this is finally over. 

Barb Rock is a retired mental health counselor and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at or text to (253) 377-9668.

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