Thanksgiving has always been a time for us to reflect on things we are grateful for. This year, being thankful is a little more difficult; the pandemic has caused many disappointments and challenges. Families are missing out on planned vacations, school activities and social gatherings. Exciting events like weddings and graduations are delayed or canceled, and parents and kids are working and learning from home. We are reinventing how we do almost everything. Parents understand that staying home is the best way to keep everyone safe and healthy, even if it means missing out on things we were looking forward to. While life has changed and circumstances aren’t what we would choose, there are still many positive things to be grateful for.

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Family Bonding Time

Our family is busy. In the past, there were days where my husband and I only said a passing hello as we shuttled kids to and from activities while trying to feed them dinner. The cancellation of sports and after-school activities has caused us to stay home. We eat together, watch TV together, and have more family time than we’ve had in years. I have watched my kids grow to be closer friends and lean on each other while they’re at home. It has been fun to watch them go from playing together simply because they have no one else to play with to a deep friendship and truly enjoying each other’s company. I hope the bonds they have built will last a lifetime and the extra family time during quarantine will make for great memories.

Tackling Projects

Any homeowner will tell you that home improvement projects are never-ending. Quarantine is giving families a chance to spruce up their homes. Have you always wanted to repaint your living room? Now is the time. Make a list of home improvement projects you would like to get done and see what you can tackle as a family. This is also a great learning opportunity for the kids as they experience firsthand how to do new things and the value of hard work.

Eating at Home

Eating at a restaurant is a nice treat, but it can also be expensive and unhealthy. Take a break from fast food and cook meals at home. You can choose the ingredients and how the food is prepared, which makes it a healthier option. Inviting the kids to help you prepare food is a great life lesson as well.

Old-School Entertainment

Families are able to enjoy activities that they wouldn’t normally have time for, like board games, puzzles, reading aloud and arts and crafts. We’ve enjoyed listening to more music and watching classic movies together. We’re on a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. My kids read the entire Harry Potter series together and then watched all the movies. Our normal schedule wouldn’t have allowed time for that.

Outdoor Time

As parents work from home and kids are distance learning, more families are spending their lunch hours and weekends taking walks, hiking, riding bikes and playing games outside. You may have noticed that bicycles, trampolines, badminton nets and other outdoor entertainment for families were sold out at most stores this summer. People are enjoying outdoor play, and hopefully this will become a healthy habit in the years to come.

Rest and Relaxation

Parents are always running errands, managing the calendar, dropping kids here and there, and attempting to keep up with chores – all while working. Living such a busy life can cause exhaustion. Quarantine has given us the chance to reduce the places we need to be on any given day. No commute means we can sleep later. We have more time for leisurely activities that we didn’t have time for in the past. Practice self-care and do something you enjoy with or without the kids.


Parents have the unique opportunity to teach during quarantine. They have a first row seat as kids participate in classes online, and they also have the chance to teach life skills. Have your kids help with chores like laundry, cleaning and yardwork. You can also teach them to balance a budget, work on organization skills, and plan, shop for and cook meals. Help your kids plan a service project. Pick up groceries for a family who cannot safely go to the store, organize a canned food drive, or simply reach out to people who may feel lonely during quarantine.

Extra time at home can be fun and relaxing some days; other days, it can cause anxiety and feelings of loneliness. All of those feelings are normal and acceptable. Talk to your kids about what they are disappointed and sad about in  an age-appropriate way. Be sure to ask them what things have been a hidden blessing during quarantine and what they’re feeling thankful for. Acknowledging these feelings will help everyone work through the negatives and celebrate the positives in a difficult situation.

–Sarah Lyons

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