COVID19 Parenting

Day 1: My own COVID19 FAQ

March 16, 2020

(concept from OMDG, but with a more personal angle. It’s like I’m being interviewed but — don’t tell anyone — I’m writing the questions.)

1- So this is real, huh? Somehow this is what all of my neighbors ask me. Yes, it’s real. We are seeing local cases. The number are rising. Some people need a lot of care. It’s real.

2- So what do we do? Everyone is different. My personal take on social distancing is to just not do anything unnecessary that would lead to interaction with people or surfaces.

NECESSARY – for right now, going to work falls under that category, so our nanny will still come. I will not be able to do my job even remotely without some kind of childcare. So for now, I considering her (and her husband) to be the 6 + 7th member of our family unit, just housed in another place. They are practicing social distancing too. Josh and I are both off next week but I am contemplating changing that to spread out our time at home.

If we get to the point where I can mostly ramp down my work (when not needed in the hospital), then I will have her stay home. But right now I need to be available for my residents as we try to make new policies and navigate this, and our outpatient spaces are still open (and there are still patients on my schedule). Subject to change, though.

UNNECESSARY – pretty much everything else. (Walking around the neighborhood (or biking or scootering) still okay as long as we don’t get close to others. And I thought “hey, we could go take a walk on the beach!” but they’ve actually closed the beaches to discourage people from continuing to congregate. Oh well. Understandable.

3- So what will the kids do all day? Well, no doubt that if you have kids you’ve seen many examples of schedules & structure to help us navigate this new (temporary) normal!

Here is mine:

Yes, there’s a pretty sizable screen time block from 1 – 3:30 (it looks like 3:38 but I meant 3:30!) AND we’re allowing a movie at night. I’m comfortable with that.

We started yesterday and it went well. If they are not behaving, I issue a warning that a continued infraction will result in a 30 minute screen time deduction. So far, it has been effective.

I know we have a loooooong way to go though! I also like this version, shared by one of my neighbors:

I like the 2 different bedtimes depending on behavior!

4- So your schools are closed? Yes, we’re in Broward County, the FL coronavirus capital (said proudly?). Closed at least next 2 weeks (and I presume probably longer). The week after this one was supposed to be spring break anyway, so that worked out well.

Our kids do a lot of homework on screens already (iReady, Reflex Math, Newsela, etc for those with similar!) and we have been told there will be assignments up starting today. I anticipate that 10-12 should be enough time for them to finish (and then read, color, etc). Yep, our kindergarteners use these things too. Benefits to digital learning!

I haven’t heard about any plans for any ‘zoom live’ teaching types of things. Florida has a “virtual school” curriculum — some of my really sick patients have used it. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they deploy some of that. We will see!

5- Any plans to do a BOBW episode? Yes! Laura and I just have to make sure we have childcare to record (or I have to record at night, which I hate, but I could do it). We record ahead, so I’m worried our content in the coming weeks is going to miss the mark (spring break plans chat, anyone? LOLLLZ). But some of it will still be valuable. AND it’s a great time for podcasts, in general!

Here are a few of my favorite recent resources/posts related to our current situation:

30+ Healthy Pantry Recipes Love and Lemons

Suddenly Homeschooling? A Healthy Slice of Life

Handling Chaos series from The Life Coach School Podcast. I have been really impressed with these episodes. She is releasing them daily and while being an ‘official’ member of her tribe is pricey, these are entirely free.

Bonus podcast episode from Happier

Laura’s Adventures in Homeschooling

6. Wow, you seem calm. NO, I am not. But I am going to try to be, starting now. I took last week to wallow, grieve, and flail. But I have told myself today is day one of Calm Action mode. I have confidence we will get through this. We will learn from it. I hope my children look back on this time thinking about how it brought us closer as a family than any one week trip out of state would (though I am so sad not to be meeting my squishy beautiful baby NIECE OMGGG. She already knows my voice from FaceTime though!).

7. More tomorrow. I will continue to document life here (in my case, this is pretty normal!) but maybe a few more details. Like Quarantine Quisine for any pantry-based cooking projects (I’m a little proud of that alliterative touch there!!).

Some pix . . . #liferightnow. The first two are from their afternoon “kids exercise video” time and the last 2 are Annabel’s adjustments to our usual white board system 🙂

Pinkalicious Dance Party App
I guess Annabel has decided to embrace school closure (her initial response was so sad, but then I saw this!)
nice job A!


  • Reply Anne March 16, 2020 at 7:02 am

    Thank you for the daily posts–I need them in this time of insanity! I, too, will be home with my kids for…a while. My kindergartener is out of school for at least four weeks, and we have decided to pull my one year old out of daycare, even though it is still open. My husband and I will both be attempting to work full time, so I guess we’ll see how this goes. “Homeschooling” the five year old will be manageable, I think. The toddler is the perpetual wild card, but we’ll have to make it work somehow.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns March 16, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for continuing to post! I like hearing your perspective on things as a mom and physician! Things are getting real here in MN as we had our first community transmission cases yesterday. We have such limited testing capabilities so all along I knew things were worse than the numbers were showing so it was a validation of my concern more than anything. I started to WFH on Friday since I’m high risk and then my company ramped things up and had everyone WFH starting today through at least Easter. I’m hoping these policies help to flatten the curve. My son’s daycare is still open but I sent a note to my Rheumatologist yesterday afternoon asking if she thought we should send him given I’m higher risk thanks to immune suppressant drugs. She responded within 30 minutes (so impressive! Was not expecting to hear from her yesterday!) and said to keep him home if at all possible since I need to be extra extra careful. My husband is still going into work but I’ve asked him to WFH as much as he can so he can help out, especially when I have conference calls. I”m grateful that my coworkers mostly have tweens and teens so will have an easier time WFH! Our son is sitting next to me watching Little Baby Bum right now… he’s going to watch more tv than is optimal but he doesn’t understand that he can’t have my undivided attention whenever he wants it! 2 is a tough age to have at home with you!

    Stay safe and healthy, Sarah!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 16, 2020 at 11:15 am

      You stay healthy too! I’m so sorry – it is more complicated when you have an underlying illness / immunosuppressive like you do. Continue to be EXTRA careful. A little (or a lot ) of extra screen time won’t harm your toddler – promise!

  • Reply omdg March 16, 2020 at 10:30 am

    I love that you are posting daily as well! How do you get your kids to do exercise inside? I even have gymnastics stuff (mat and “beam”) that Dylan refuses to use.

    While I admire the sample schedule’s intent to get the kids to bed early if they don’t adhere to the schedule, I am trying to imagine implementing that at chez-OMDG. We can barely get Dyl to bed at 9 on a regular night, and we’d really prefer 8:30. So far I am not winning that one at ALL.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 16, 2020 at 11:14 am

      yeah i think the Screen Time loss threat probably more powerful to my kids than any bedtime adjustments anyway 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 16, 2020 at 11:16 am

      well, we were successful on day 1. we will see how things progress. i’m planning on YouTube kids yoga or etc. if they don’t want to do it, fine, but no other screens during that time. (i will also let them go back outside if they so choose but SUMMER is coming here soon weather wise and the afternoon isn’t necessarily as pleasant as the morning!)

    • Reply Greta March 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      We like Cosmic Kids Yoga for inside exercise – it’s on YouTube for free and is Australian. My five year old and almost three year old both are mesmerized and it has the added benefit of being hilarious to watch!

  • Reply Ana March 16, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Sticking to a sleep/wake schedule I think is going to be key for my own sanity, and my kids did seem OK with it last night when I reminded them that we are not on vacation, we are doing school-from-home. (they were both very very sad that school closed, but perked up when we started making a schedule, and got super into helping me figure it out).

    I’m very happy its spring here, so getting outside will be nice as long as its not raining. I have a friend who does OT with kids and recommended things like bear crawls, crab walks, etc… because they are HARD and also meet some sort of “deep sensory” need kids have. We may resort to “just dance” on the Nintendo switch, they have “work out” specific mode, but even the regular dances have me sweaty and out of breath and my kids love it.

    I also have been deep into wallowing and fretting for a week or so and today I need to cut it out, get off my damn phone and try to take each day (hour?) as it comes. I also decided we—as a family—need to do one fun thing together every day, if that is a movie, board game, bike ride, or making a treat to eat. I also want this to be a good memory for my kids, and I know they are picking up on our moods/anxiety…and this may last for weeks/months.

  • Reply A. March 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    We do 30 min screen am and 30 min pm during meals (it was 15 before), but like 3-4 hours outside! Bike, parks, scooters, walks, hike in forest, play in the yard… Here the population is not dense at all, so the 3 meters distance is well respected if we « meet » someone while being outside. Good luck and thank you for posting.

  • Reply Dawn Burke March 16, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I really want to tell people who have their kids at home if you do NOTHING else in the name of “school” just READ to and with your kids. I promise that will go a long way when they do get back to school. If you need proof, I’m writing my dissertation on this so I have the research:) My kids are middle school age so those of you with little ones, I’m sending all the vibes your way-that’s gotta be tough. Recess and read alouds will save you!! I think we as parents need to lean in, give grace and trust that everything’s going to be okay. My husband is an assistant principal and has been worrying about all the kids, teachers, etc. (we are in West Texas and public schools have not closed yet….I teach at our university and we have moved to online, challenging since I teach preservice teachers who go out to the schools every week so I, like many teachers am spending my spring break working on how to convert my class content to online. Everybody hang in there, we are all strong working moms–we can do this.

  • Reply Rebekah March 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Sarah, I love that you mentioned Brooke’s series from the Life Coach School podcast. It’s a great resource and provides some level-headed thinking in an otherwise really uncertain time. I’m certified as a life coach through Brooke’s school, and can attest that her tools work. One of the best things we can do right now is to be really deliberate about managing our minds, and not letting our thoughts run rampant. 🙂

    On another note, kid exercise time is great. I’ve already decided that we’re incorporating daily outside time every day. We try to do that in normal life anyhow, but I want to be extra deliberate about it now.

  • Reply gwinne March 16, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    Hi. We’re also home through April 13. Tiny Boy did a lot today in terms of schooling (reading, math, art, puzzle, writing, science lesson) but SO MUCH SCREENTIME. Even now he’s back on it so I can concentrate. (I posted on my own blog, but he is seriously incapable of doing anything other than watch TV without interacting with me in some way every 5 minutes.)

    I think I am going to pay my teen to school him in art/music every day just so I can have a break.

    We do get outside, but it’s still cold enough here (~30s/low 40s) that it’s not sustainable for long periods of time.

    Going back to tinker with my home schooling schedule. Thanks for yours!

  • Reply Michelle March 16, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Off topic, but you definitely picked the right time to sell your house! I have been trying to get mine ready to sell, but now I feel very unmotivated, who knows when I’ll be able to sell it, and for how much loss? Oh well, I am going to try to focus on this kids and not worry about the house stuff anymore. (I was just trying to reduce our house payment so I could work less, but who knows when that will happen now..)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      Lol the right time to sell our house was 2016 – we lost so much on it as it was. But yes josh and I realize it could have been even worse.

      I hope yours sells quickly against all odds! Hey, low interest rates might help?!

  • Reply Gervy March 17, 2020 at 7:55 am

    Thank you for keeping up with posting here – it’s helpful to see how others are coping and to get my head around how things will be soon. I’m in Melbourne and public schools have not closed yet, but it is presumably just a matter of time. It is all so mind-boggling. I work in climate change policy so I am used to thinking about doom every day – this feels even more threatening!

  • Reply Teresa March 17, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration for stay at home schedule! I’m getting mine implemented today.

  • Reply Erica March 17, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    I’d love to hear more about what Genevieve is doing all day… does she follow along with whatever the big kids are up to? All the schedules I’ve found seems to assume older children who have homework, can read independently, etc. … maybe my 2-year-old is unusually clingy but he won’t even watch TV unless I’m sitting next to him.

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