Ideas For Family Diversions For Parents Working From Home

Mar 19, 2020
Originally published on March 19, 2020 7:39 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

With many schools closed and playdates strongly discouraged due to social distancing, parents are stressed. Whether you're working from home or still having to go in to work or if you have lost your job, it can be overwhelming.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So for the next few minutes, we're going to bring you a few ideas for family diversions, courtesy of a few experts.

JARRETT KROSOCZKA: I'm Jarrett Krosoczka, and I write and illustrate books for young readers.

KELLY: Books like "Punk Farm" and the "Lunch Lady" series. He's one of many children's authors who have taken to the Internet this week to connect with kids.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

KROSOCZKA: So today we're going to be learning how to draw emotion.

KELLY: Krosoczka is streaming 15- to 20-minute art lessons every day at 2 p.m. for the foreseeable future.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

KROSOCZKA: And when you're really angry, your brows get crossed. It squishes together...

There's something really magical and beautiful about putting marks on a page and making something out of nothing. You know, I loved art as a kid, and I was surrounded by a good amount of trauma. And I would escape into my sketchbook. You know, just moving some paint across a page just centers you, and it puts you at ease.

CHANG: Meanwhile, Samantha Greer is finding comfort in the land. She grew up on a homestead and now lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her husband, two kids and her brother.

SAMANTHA GREER: I was thinking - oh, my gosh - everyone's going to be home; we need a project. And I was thinking about, like, the food supply chain and how many eggs we go through. And I went online, and I ordered 20 chicken (laughter).

CHANG: She says her kids were so excited.

GREER: They helped me set up the little pen. They helped me get the food. They helped me clean up the barn. They have just been on top of this and helping me every day.

KELLY: I am so hoping my children are not listening and getting any ideas here. But don't worry - Samantha Greer has another idea.

GREER: You know what? Potato towers are an incredibly easy way to grow some food.

KELLY: Yeah, potato towers. Google it. You start with potatoes that have been sitting around for a while - you know, the ones that have grown eyes. You can even do it on a balcony. By the end of fall, you will have a tower of potatoes to eat.

GREER: I think it just helps give some hope and some planning for the future - you know, something to watch grow.

CHANG: Now, the feeling of isolation is real for so many people right now, and it gave Jennifer Grubbs an idea last week.

JENNIFER GRUBBS: I thought, why not put a call out there to let our kids get a glimpse into the lives of other kids experiencing this weird, uncertain time in different ways?

CHANG: Grubbs is an anthropologist at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and she's a mom of four. She reached out to other moms on a Facebook group. And so far, her children have Web-chatted with kids in other states, in the U.K. and, next week, Australia.

GRUBBS: So they're making friends, learning about other places in the world, seeing that this is going on and that people are also laughing in other countries and being silly and bouncing off the walls and that it's not something that's just happening here.

CHANG: She says anyone can make these connections; you just need to reach out.

KELLY: Finally, we've got some advice for what to do when the kids are bouncing off the walls.

LUIS ALVARADO: We naturally, as humans, just need to move around.

KELLY: Luis Alvarado works with families through a nonprofit here in D.C. He's also a certified Zumba instructor. He says a good workout does wonders for kids. But in a pinch, just pick your favorite music and dance.

ALVARADO: Look - there's going to be one song. I don't care who's the artist; I don't care what's the genre. There's going to be one song that you can listen to in the morning or you can listen to when you're cleaning up the kitchen counter and you can just feel at ease with that song. And naturally, your body will react to it - even if it's just, you know, waving your head back and forth or doing a fist bump.

KELLY: And by the way, Alvarado's song...

ALVARADO: I can never go wrong with "We Will Rock You" by Queen.

CHANG: Well, Luis, here you go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE WILL ROCK YOU")

QUEEN: (Singing) Buddy, you're a boy. Make a big noise. Playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday. You got mud on your face, you big disgrace, kickin' your can all over the place. Singing, we will, we will rock you... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.