Coronavirus Life Hacks for Families

Coronavirus Life Hacks for Families

If you by chance caught my family and I on the  Today Show recently, you probably heard me framing up the problem we are all feeling after 2+ months of quarantine. From a 30-minute interview came a 20-second sound bite to frame up what my “engi-nerd” husband, Paul would say is the “problem statement”. What you missed in the other 29-minutes and 40-seconds, were the tips and tricks that we have put into place as a family to make everyone more productive, efficient and happy. Let’s for the sake of argument call these “Coronavirus life hacks for families”. 

We are by no means the best family under house arrest; I mean, in quarantine. Paul and I both play the role of employee, boss, teacher, principal, chef, housekeeper, medic, driver’s ed teacher, wood shop instructor…the list goes on.  But, we are making little changes and adjustments each day to help juggle all the balls {or roles} that are in the air. My husband refers to this in an old Army saying, “Keep improving your foxhole.” Meaning, that you make the best of your conditions and improve them every day.

So here are my and my husband’s “Coronavirus life hacks for families” {broken down by member of the family} that we have put into place over the last 2 months of quarantine. Feel free to use the ones that might help you, ignore the ones that will won’t help you, pass along a few to your friends and send a few more our way in the comments below. Like all families we are a work in progress, and as working professionals we live by continuous process improvement during our workday. So, why not during family quarantine as well?!?

Mom Coronavirus Life Hacks {endorsed by Vicki}::

  • Coffee Time:: Take time to treat yourself to a good coffee. Upgrade your coffee maker, switch up your coffee flavor, or get fancy with flavored creamers or syrups. For those like me who are up for a challenge, take over a tap on your husband’s kegerator and hook up your cold brew to some nitro for a REAL treat!
  • Evening Walks:: Pre-quarantine, I wasn’t really an evening walker. During quarantine, my nightly walks are how I recharge my mind and overall attitude. They are also where I get in some of my best Marco Polo chats and laughter with sisters and girlfriends.
  • Meal Delivery Kits:: Most families are cooking more than ever these days. If you have yet to try home delivery meal kits, get on it now! We have done Hello Fresh in the past and are currently loving Home Chef. They break up food boredom and expand your recipe repertoire with little to no planning effort.
  • Grocery Delivery:: If you caught my favorite post last year “H-E-B:: Proving Once Again That Everything Is Bigger and Better in Texas”, you know I am a fan of anything and everything H-E-B. I have been using H-E-B Curbside and H-E-B Delivery since the beginning. Even before the Coronavirus came to haunt us, this was my favorite mom hack.

Dad Coronavirus Life Hacks {endorsed by Paul}::

  • Project Time:: Clear off a place on the workbench in the garage, because it’s time for projects with the kids. I took the Scoutcrafter birdhouse challenge, and made a simple birdhouse with my 5 year old son.
  • Dress Up Day:: I received a pretty epic reaction and good laugh when I dressed up like my son. Then I dressed him up to look like me. Totally silly but worth the giggles.
  • BBQ:: Now is the time to feed your BBQ obsession.  Get some of your favorite cuts or try something new.
  • Sorting Hunting / Fishing Gear:: Getting out of the house right now to travel anywhere is challenging, but taking the time to sort out your gear so that it is ready to go on that next trip can be very satisfying. I have been bag packing for ducks, deer, bass, and redfish for weeks.  When we finally catch a break from quarantine, the family and I will be ready for our next adventure.
  • Cast Iron Cooking:: I got into cast iron cooking a few years ago. We love watching Cowboy Kent Rollins as a family on YouTube, and I promise you this … if you tune in … you’ll both laugh and drool. Cowboy Kent brings the element of camping to family dinner for a nice change up.

Teenager Coronavirus Life Hacks {endorsed by our 16-year old}::

  • Involve Them in Chores:: Although they won’t appreciate it until later in life, it will be a huge help for the rest of the family to share the load. Make a list for them to avoid the “nag” factor. Chores not done? Then no screen time. Plain and simple.
  • “My Space”:: No, not old school social media, but carve out for your teen the equivalent of their own man/woman cave to recharge away from the rest of the family.
  • Tech Refresh:: Re-purpose that old laptop or iPad you might have laying around. Pass down to them old equipment and a quiet place to work. We re-purposed a 5-year old Mac Book Air that runs circles around our daughter’s school issued Chromebook and she can use it to code.
  • Bike Ride:: Dust off that mountain bike and go out exploring the neighborhood with them, green belt, etc. You’re never too old to ride a bike.
  • Driving Practice:: Sometimes just getting out of the house is enough, even if you are driving in circles or not really going anywhere. It is basically parent taught drivers ed, plus your car needs to be driven.
  • Marco Polo with Close Friends:: While there a lot of challenges with teenagers on social media, dropping a simple video message to a close friend can be the pick me up that makes their day while socially distancing from their close friends.

Early-Elementary School Kid Coronavirus Life Hacks {endorsed by our 5-year old}::

  • One-Room School House Concept:: The basic concept of this is the older kids teach the younger kids and both learn a ton in the process. Our teenager taught our son to read 3-letter words, addition, subtraction, and even how to ride a bike – all during quarantine. He taught her about patience.
  • Defined Schedules:: We quickly figured out that our middle child was the only one in the house not on a schedule, and he was constantly interrupting everyone else because he didn’t know if it was play time or work time. But, since he couldn’t read time and didn’t understand the days of the week other than reciting them, he didn’t know what to expect day-to-day and hour-to-hour. So, we created a schedule and are teaching him to read a clock and understand activities that take place based on day of the week.
  • Fort Building:: Just like with our teenager, having a private place to play, recharge, and/or just get away from everyone else was great for him. So, he goes to his special space with his stuffed animals, Legos, or books and just gets creative. He comes back calm and recharged.
  • Exercise & Fresh Air:: Going from 2x / day recess to couch potato made our 5-year old very restless. We probably now take more walks with our son than people walk their dogs but it’s good to get some sun and exercise together as a family. And, it helps him burn off excess energy.
  • Lego Time:: Whether it is a new set or an old set, the process of building something {and sometimes minutes later destroying it} can be very satisfying. Our son advanced a lot in the past couple of months and can build most basic sets from the instructions by himself. Great 30-min distraction, while we are trying to take care of other tasks for work or around the house. 
  • Halloween:: Dust off those old Halloween costumes and just have fun with it. Candy and spiders are optional.
  • Magic:: Our son genuinely believes his older sister is magical {spoiler alert:: she IS!}. So when he found a stick while out on a walk, he told us that he wanted it turned into a magic wand. A couple strokes with a hand saw and a quick bark shave with a pocketknife, and voila! A magic wand was born in a couple minutes. Good for hours of play time. But, to be honest finding the unicorn hair for the wand took a bit longer.

Baby Coronavirus Life Hacks {silently endorsed by our 1-year old}::

  • Grab and Go Food & Bottles:: Pre-measured bottles and ready to go meals are a godsend in the morning when the baby is crying and you haven’t had your morning coffee yet. 
  • “Free Range”:: Cordon off enough space for your little one to explore but not get into trouble. This will free you up so you can start that load of laundry, color with your older kid, or actually get 3 bites of lunch for once.
  • Hold Me:: Nothing quite fills the love tank like holding a baby. It brings you back to the realities of what is most important in life EVERY.TIME!
  • Bath Time:: For whatever reason, our youngest son {1-year old} just loves the bath! He sits there quietly and looks around for 5, 10, 15, or even 20 minutes. He’s calm and quiet and for once not trying to crawl away or squirm. We’ve decided it’s his quiet space away from the older kids.

So there you have it:: Coronavirus life hacks for the entire family.  What else would you add to the list?

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