Most of us are reeling from Coronavirus/COVID-19 and the ramifications of this pandemic. People are working from home or losing their jobs altogether. Children are staying home from school. Governments are restricting travel and outlawing large gatherings. Life as we know it has changed, at least temporarily. And in this crisis where we need each other more than ever, where we require connection and support and nurturing, we've had to learn a new phrase: social distancing.
Social distancing makes sense. We're supposed to avoid gatherings and create space between us and other people in order to slow the spread of the outbreak.
But this shouldn't mean we become distant. Your elderly neighbor needs you to get her groceries. Your parents need you to check in on them. Your friends are as jarred and alone as you. We all need to feel a sense of connected community, but what does that look like when we're supposed to stay six feet away from each other?
How to Stay Connected Despite Social Distancing
1. Check on Everyone
Sure, we're supposed to stay six feet away from people, but that doesn't mean we can't reach out. Text, email, call...do phones still make phone calls?
I plan on working my way through my contact list and reaching out to people one by one. How's it going? Are you holding up okay? Can I help you in any way?
2. Virtual Meetings
To a certain extent, trying to maintain some "business as usual" vibe will help us feel some semblance of normalcy in these turbulent times. So, why not move those business meetings over to an online platform like Zoom?
I'm still interviewing people for the Psychology blog and scheduling some virtual meetings. When I'm working, even virtually, I feel a sense of purpose and belonging, so I plan on, well...working.
A lot of children are going to be at home for the foreseeable future. Maybe the rest of the school year. Many schools have scrambled to adapt and are offering their own learn-from-home lessons, but here are some other ideas for you and your children to keep learning.
I pick one book and theme for the day and then plan a simple lesson based around that. My daughter is only two-and-a-half, so we read a book about bugs today, talked about the letter "B," and then looked for bugs all over our yard. Then we made our own bugs by using rocks from our nature walk and whatever art supplies we had sitting around.
You get the idea. Start with a book or article and then work from there. Try to incorporate something from each discipline--some art, science, exercise, reading, writing, history, and math.
When Ella's not feeling my homemade lessons, I turn to Scholastic's free learn from home platform. This uses technology but doesn't require any planning on my part. Today we learned about rabbits and about fact and fiction, which is timely because Ella currently enjoys bunnies...and lying.
4. Good Ole' Fashioned Letter Writing
I used to write each and every one of my students a handwritten letter near the end of the school year. It was a great way to show my students that I truly saw and heard them throughout the year, that I cared about them and wished them the best.
Everyone being on lockdown is a great time to pick this habit back up. Gather some stamps, envelopes, and paper and write some cherished friends and family members handwritten letters. The perk is anticipating someone writing you back.
5. Get Creative
I'm still scheming some creative ways to socialize while still remaining 6 feet apart from people. I'm thinking a family activities day where each family brings their own materials and food and stays in their family zones--six feet away from other families.
Then we compete playing silly games like egg toss and three-legged race while maintaining our safe distance. We end with a picnic. How fun does this sound? Planning as we speak.
6. Be of Service
People need help and support right now, so don't just binge-watch Netflix. Text, email, and call your friends and neighbors to see if they need food, supplies, or just to chat with someone.
Volunteer to mow your neighbor's yard or go shopping for an elderly person.
7. Phone Dates
Get old school and make some phone calls. Or, bonus points for Facetiming with people. I'm already planning Facetime dance parties with college friends and Facetime playdates for Ella.
Don't Forget Those Closest to You
My last thought about not letting social distancing lead to being distant is to use this quieter time to do what's sometimes so hard to do when we're rushing around. Get closer and more intimate with those you are self-isolating with.
Haris, Ella, and I are planning to make afternoon hikes an everyday affair so that we can nurture our family's relationship while helping each other stay calm in the face of uncertainty.
Social distancing doesn't have to mean growing apart or being lonely. It can just as easily mean getting back to basics when family, friends, and connection were more important than the rat race.
Besides, we're all going to continue to need strong social bonds when life starts to get back to normal. We'll need to lean on each other to mourn the loss of our loved ones, find new jobs, pay the bills, and face the economic challenges that the Coronovirus has left in its wake.
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