Car Parades, Zoom Calls, Neighborhood Howls, and More: How Families Connect in Quarantine
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there are silver linings to be found. As communities across the nation join together in social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, our creativity and commitment to supporting one another has never been more palpable.
Staying connected may take a little more ingenuity these days, but amidst all the uncertainty, prioritizing and spending time with friends and loved ones is what your kids (and you) will most likely remember from this period.
If you’re looking for ways to stay connected during Coronavirus and show your friends, loved ones, and neighbors that you care, we’ve compiled a great list. For more ways to keep kids busy at home, check out our Stay-at-Home Guide and our list of great ways kids can help during Coronavirus.
Photo by Shaifali Rametra
Communities all over the country are embracing car parades. If you have a spring baby who can’t have a birthday party this year, ask your friends and family to drive by with signs and cheer for the birthday boy or girl. Vera Savage of Boston recently did a drive-by party for a six-year-old neighbor; “We all drove by and honked and sang, some with decorations and instruments, some with signs. He said it was ‘the best birthday ever.’” We have a few other lockdown birthday ideas as well.
It’s not just birthdays that are parade-worthy, though. Do your kids miss their teachers? Lots of school districts have organized parades for their teachers to drive through district neighborhoods to “visit” their kids.
Want to support essential workers? You can also help organize a car parade in your town to celebrate the amazing work people are doing to keep us safe, healthy, and fed in this unprecedented time.
Photo by Marisa Iallonardo
Chalk The Walk
Never before in the history of walking the dog has a walk around the block been so vital to the health, happiness, and sanity of my family. One game we play is counting the rainbows on our neighborhood sidewalks every day on our family walk. But it’s not just my suburb, kids all over the country are Chalking their Walk with rainbows to show support for one another as we live through a pandemic.
Grab some sidewalk chalk and draw a rainbow of your own, then take some photos and head over to Instagram with the kiddos to add your rainbow to the #ChalkTheWalk movement.
Write to Pen Pals
Email is great but getting an actual letter in the mail is something special.
Now is a great time to introduce kids to the art of being a pen pal. If your kids aren’t literate yet, you let them dictate to you everything they want to say to their friends and have them draw a special picture to send with their letter. You can also include pictures, even print them directly on the letter paper.
Coordinate letter writing sessions with their friends from school or take to social media to find new friends from places they’ve never been. My favorite online mom’s group established a pen pal community for our kids, and now my almost-4-year-old gets more mail than I do. Added bonus: You’ll be supporting the United States Postal Service, which could very much use support right now.
I know you just put them away, but now would be a great time to break out those holiday lights again. Lots of families are adding a little cheer to their community by decorating their homes with light shows. Take the kids on a drive and enjoy that warm cozy feeling you get during the holidays in Springtime.
Photo by Shaifali Rametra
Virtual hangouts have become the de facto norm for many of us. It’s where we work, where our kids learn, where we host holiday dinners. Zoom is a great way to keep connected to your non-pandemic life. For the kids, you can host storytimes or show-and-tell with their friends. And for moms and dads, a virtual happy hour with friends to decompress after a long day.
Some community organizations are offering virtual support groups for parents dealing with job loss, addiction, anxiety, or general parenting issues. If you’re looking for community support, check with local hospitals, social work networks, your town hall, local community centers like the YMCA or JCC, or houses of worship.
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
Take to social media to find (or help organize) a neighborhood scavenger hunt, then take the kids on a long walk through your town looking for teddy bears, safari animals, hearts, or smiley faces in neighborhood windows.
Suzanne Brown of Texas has done this with her sons. “A mom in our neighborhood posted on Nextdoor to put teddy bears in the window of your house,” she told us, “so kids could do a bear hunt. It's simple, but it definitely brings joy to my young boys.”
Photo by Christine Celia
Create a masterpiece for the whole neighborhood to see. Kids all over the world are decorating their windows with art to bring beauty and joy to their neighbors. All out of ideas? Check out our Crafts Guide for inspiration.
Photo by Sara Traynham-Bruce/Go Outside and Howl at 8pm/Facebook
One peculiar bonding phenomenon that has sprung up across the country is the nightly howl. A Facebook group called Go Outside and Howl at 8pm boasts half a million members joining in the primal chorus, and the governor of Colorado has encouraged the whole state to take part. The practice has gained popularity, with kids who miss their school friends, parents feeling stir crazy, and dogs puzzled by all of it standing outside every night to howl in unison. Wendi Sue Grover of Colorado and her daughter take part in the nightly Neighborhood Howl to support essential workers. “When I hear the howls coming from each neighbor's porch, I know they are ok.” She says. “Even our elderly neighbor peeks out his front door. Seeing him once a day gives me a lot of peace of mind.”
Create a Virtual Book Club
We can all use a little escape right now, and what better way to leave the anxiety of pandemic life behind for a little while than immersing yourself in a great book? Perhaps bypass the dystopian apocalypse novels for the time being and opt for a mood-boosting read that you can enjoy with a few good friends via FaceTime or Google Hangouts.
While most libraries and bookstores are closed right now, e-books and audiobooks are still readily available. Check your local library’s website for e-borrowing options or sites like Open Library, Lendle, and BookLending.
Paint rocks with words of inspiration or a beautiful picture for your neighbors to notice on their walks around your neighborhood or at local hiking trails.
Have a musical family? Local families, taking inspiration from the terrace concerts of Italy, have taken to their front yards and porches to serenade their neighbors. Now’s a great time to show off all those music lessons you’ve been paying for. Who knows, maybe your neighbors can join in for a community concert series.