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Posts tagged ‘covid-19’

Halloween is Not Cancelled: How to Celebrate Safely During COVID-19

Halloween is less than a month away and we know what’s on your mind: “How will my child have a safe and fun holiday this year?” Don’t despair; Halloween is not cancelled. With a little planning, this Halloween could be your family’s best one yet!

First off, let’s go over basic safety. You’ve heard it a million times: wear a mask. That still applies on Halloween. Truly, Halloween is the perfect holiday for masks – many kids wear masks on Halloween every year! This year, we just need to be a little extra creative with them.

Regular Halloween masks are not recommended for COVID protection. While they may be cute, they just don’t hold up for preventing the spread of illnesses.

Instead, try revamping your usual face mask! Buy a face mask that goes with the theme of your costumes or decorate the face masks you have at home. Your little vampire can have vampire teeth on their mask, your kitten can have whiskers, and your princess can have princess lips!

This year, you may need to pull a few tricks to give out some treats. While the usual doorstep-style trick-or-treating is not recommended, there are many other fun options to choose from.

Bring out your true Alaskan fisherman by tying bags of candy to the end of your fishing line. Most fishing rods are over six feet. Bonus – you can wear your waders as a fisherman costume!

Or you could try making a candy slide out of wrapping paper tubes or PVC piping. Decorate your tube however you like and slide your candy to your trick-or-treaters from a safe six feet away!

For an easy night of candy-giving, leave colorful bags of candy spaced out on your porch or lawn. Trick-or-treaters can grab their candy from a safe six feet, and you can say hi from your porch or from the warmth of your home.

No matter what option you choose, there are a few important rules to follow:

  1. Only use pre-packaged candy – no homemade treats this year.
  2. Wash your hands before handling the candy and wear a mask while handling.
  3. Stay six feet away from others.
  4. Wear a mask while distributing candy.

Of course, if you don’t want trick-or-treaters coming by, that’s fine too! Just turn off your porch lights, arrange some pumpkins in between your door and the sidewalk, or make a sign.

For trick-or-treaters, it’s important to remember to wear a mask, sanitize your hands often, and wash your hands when you return home. You may also consider sanitizing the packaging of your child’s treats. While the CDC holiday guidelines state that there’s no evidence that handling food or eating is linked with spreading COVID-19, it’s still possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching an object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. You can sanitize by using a disinfecting or rubbing alcohol wipe on the packaging. Just remember not to let these cleaning chemicals come into direct contact with anything you or your child will eat.

The CDC says the safest way to celebrate Halloween this year is to celebrate at home with only the people in your household. We know, this sounds dull. But staying at home doesn’t have to be boring! There are dozens of at-home ways to make Halloween pop.

Food lover? Try hosting a creepy feast! Make your favorite creepy Halloween recipes for a family dinner that is sure to fright. Our favorites are these Bloodshot Deviled Eyeballs, Snakes and Soup, and the No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Brain.

For those who aren’t a chef, you could instead try doing a candy taste-test. With all the limited-edition candies that come out around Halloween, this is sure to be a hit.

What about a Halloween Easter egg hunt? You can easily transform the Easter eggs you already have at home into monsters and goblins. All you need is some permanent markers, or some art supplies if you want to get ✨crafty ✨.

Not into crafting? Turn your regular Easter eggs into glowing Easter eggs by stuffing them with mini glow sticks. Wait until the sun sets and you can have a ghoulish Easter egg hunt at home!

If these just don’t seem big enough, you can turn your home into an all-out Halloween party! Start saving your toilet paper rolls now to make mini Halloween mummy piñatas. Get your kids and teens excited over this easy and grossly fun Eyeball Dig game. Use toilet paper or white streamers to have a mummified gunny-sack race. Or try any of these other 40 Halloween party games.

Many kids are excited to spend the Halloween holiday with their friends. However, we need to be as careful this Halloween as we are every other day during the pandemic. COVID-19 does not take the holiday off.

Instead of participating in gatherings, encourage your kids to do socially distanced Halloween activities. To show off their costume, they can get dressed up and ride bikes in costume by their friends’ houses. Or they can do a virtual costume contest. Up the ante by having each kid or family chip in $1 and then vote on their favorite costume. The winner gets the money!

Instead of visiting grandma’s house to show off costumes, give her a FaceTime or Zoom call. Or better yet – take some photos and send them as postcards!

Movies are also still a great option. Arrange a virtual movie night with friends. Use Zoom to watch a movie together or take advantage of the Netflix Party extension.

What better way to make this Halloween amazing than to make it last all week?! Lead up to Halloween by picking seven movies from this list and watching one each night on the week of Halloween with your kids or teens. Make it extra special by making an easy Halloween treat or drink each night to accompany your movies.

If you’re trying to avoid all that candy and TV, then get your kids excited with crafts! Once or twice a week, make one of these easy Halloween crafts. You can slowly decorate your house more and more as a lead up to Halloween. Then, when the holiday finally comes, your kids will be absolutely pumped!

You could also stay in costume all week! Put those old Halloween costumes to good use by getting dressed up for a walk, a grocery run, or for Zoom class during the week leading up to Halloween. Your fellow grocery shoppers will love it.

We hope these ideas, tips, and tricks helped you to feel good about Halloween 2020. We know the idea of celebrating Halloween during a pandemic is daunting. Many kids are distraught over the idea of not having their usual Halloween activities. But you can still create amazing Halloween memories without the usual social activities – all it takes is a little planning and creativity.

And remember, COVID-19 is temporary. This will not be your child’s last opportunity to celebrate Halloween.

Mother’s Day in the Midst of a Pandemic

Families are likely going to be celebrating Mother’s Day a little differently this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect nearly every aspect of our lives. In recognition of Mother’s Day, we spoke with several different moms, who provided their diverse perspectives on handling the changes in work and family life brought on by COVID-19 – and shared their advice and encouragement for other families.

Anna: “You don’t need to be super mom”

Anna and Mike with their son, Nolan

Like everyone, life has changed a lot since the pandemic for Anna McGovern, her husband, Mike, and their 19-month-old son, Nolan.

Anna, a program specialist with the Alaska Afterschool Network, has been working at home since late March. As their day care has been closed due to COVID-19, Nolan is his mom’s new co-worker. “It’s impossible working with a toddler,” she laughs. “He gets into everything and loves to touch my computer.”

As a juvenile probation officer, Anna’s husband, Mike, has continued going into work for the most part, with some remote work from home. This means Anna works around Nolan’s naptime, as well as in the evenings when her husband is home.

“It’s hard to spend all day with the baby, then work until 9 or 10 at night. I’m fortunate that my work is flexible, but it is tiring,” Anna says.

With no day care, library or play dates, Anna and Nolan fill their days with car rides, going outside, FaceTime with friends and family – and lots of walks. “The dog is getting pretty tired of walks. She’s thinking, ‘You’ve never walked me so much!’” Anna says.

Keeping a schedule is one way the family strives to maintain normalcy. Two things Anna makes sure are on the daily schedule: eating dinner together and working out.

“We try to make a point to sit down for dinner all together. We make it a priority and meals together is one thing we’ve really stuck to,” Anna says. “I also try to work out every day, even when I don’t want to. The easiest way to lower stress is to break a sweat for 20 minutes.”

Writing a list of daily goals and jotting down things she is grateful for are other self-care techniques that are helping Anna navigate these strange days.

“There is something about crossing things off a list, even if it’s ‘drink 100 ounces of water a day.’ It’s something I can control in a time when I can’t control anything. That’s really helped,” Anna explains. “Also writing down what I’m grateful for, any little thing that is good. When I get in a mood, I can go back and read it and remind myself that there are still a lot of positive things even though a lot of craziness is going on.”

One thing Anna is grateful for is the extra time she is getting to spend with her son. “At this age especially, they change so fast and learn so quick. It’s fun to experience. Also, I don’t have to choose between being a stay-at-home mom or working. I’m doing both; there is no pressure to be one or the other.”

Anna’s advice for other mothers juggling work, family and the anxiety of these uncertain times? “You don’t need to be super mom,” she says. “It’s a weird time right now. It’s OK to just be an OK parent.”

Diane: “Everyone else is in the same boat”

Diane, Colleen and their two young children, Imogen and Alistair

Before COVID-19 made its entrance in Alaska, Diane Heaney-Mead spent her days working at her architecture office in downtown Anchorage, while her wife, Colleen, ran a home day care for children including their own: Imogen, 1, and Alistair, 3.

Fast-forward several weeks and Diane has been shuffling her work between her daughter’s bedroom to the dining table and back between naps. Meanwhile, Colleen chose to discontinue her business due to social distancing requirements and to protect their son, who is easily affected by respiratory illnesses.

“I often end up working late both because spring is a busy time of year and because I find myself trying to help out with kids during the day,” Diane says. “And our kids have a hard time understanding why we can’t hang out with friends, go out to restaurants or places like the museum.”

Even with all the changes, the family has been adjusting fairly well, which Diane credits to keeping a schedule and setting work/family-time boundaries. “We are trying to keep a pretty similar routine, no hanging out in PJs or watching TV. The kids go for a walk in the morning about the same time each day, and my wife is still providing circle time for our kids,” she says.

“I give everyone a hug and a kiss before I ‘go to work’ in the bedroom and try to be clear about when it is work time and when it is not. I also try to be flexible based on their needs each day,” she adds.

While things are going pretty smoothly, there have been some tough days. “The first week we stayed home, there was a string of gun violence,” Diane explains, recalling a car chase with someone shooting an assault-style weapon out the window, and a separate incident with someone walking down the street shooting a handgun. “It was completely bizarre and not typical for our street.”

The silver lining was that it brought the neighbors together. A Facebook group was established so neighbors could connect and share information. Several people created neighborhood walks with themes like Halloween and space. And Diane and Colleen lent sleds to a nearby mom so she could tire out her active kids. “I don’t know that we would have connected as well unless we had all been home like this,” Diane says.

Spending more time as a family is another upside. “I get to spend more time with the children,” Diane says. “And last weekend we had the opportunity to look after a friend’s son for the weekend while she was giving birth. It was our children’s first time having a friend sleep over and made for a nice break from the isolation.”

When it comes to encouragement for other families, Diane says, “Hang in there. When kids run up during a web conference, I just remind myself that everyone else is in the same boat.”

Andrea: “We don’t always have to be doing something”

Andrea’s adopted son, Mitch

Life hasn’t really changed that much since the pandemic for Andrea Conter, her 21-year-old adopted son, and her two high-school-age foster boys. Unless you count the fact that Andrea isn’t working, her oldest son is now just working part-time, and the younger boys are schooling from home.

This is a family used to living with change, which is perhaps the reason they are taking the current situation in stride. Growing up in foster homes, the three boys are certainly familiar with frequent change – in homes, caregivers, schools, schedules. And Andrea, who became a mother just three years ago at the age of 52, has adapted to quite a bit of change in her life recently as well.

As a single, career-focused woman, Andrea never thought she could foster children because her lifestyle didn’t allow her to care for young children. However, three summers ago, when she saw a Facebook post seeking a foster family for a college-age boy, she realized that older children needed homes as well. Soon after, she welcomed Mitch into her home. And last spring, at an adoption ceremony in Anchorage, Andrea and Mitch officially became mother and son.

More change came a couple months later when Andrea got a call asking if she would foster two brothers on a temporary basis. Almost a year later, the two boys are still part of the family.

“Prior to COVID, we just did normal stuff – school, work, homework, gaming, friends,” says Andrea, who is a store manager at Burlington.

When COVID hit Alaska, that all changed. Instead of working full-time managing 80 employees, Andrea now completes several hours of virtual training each week and tries to keep her employees engaged over social media. Mitch’s work schedule was reduced to part-time, and he and Andrea share the grocery shopping responsibility. And the younger boys have transitioned to doing school from home.

“The biggest change is now we are all home all day. Things have been OK except for battling to get them to do homework,” Andrea notes.

All the ZOOM meetings and school emails are somewhat overwhelming, but Andrea says she likes to see the assignments and due dates and grades. She’s also been thrilled to see the change in her oldest foster son, who left a more stressful environment at one of the high schools geared for teens with behavioral issues. “He’s become much more engaged, and his stress and anxiety has dropped. I’ve watched him bloom,” Andrea says. “That’s been a win.”

A key to their success, Andrea feels, is being flexible with the family schedule. “I’m not too strict about schedules, but there are non-negotiables. Homework can be done at 2 a.m. but it has to be done. Same thing with chores. We have some structure in place, but there’s flexibility. Right now, it’s OK if there are a few things you let go.”

That flexibility, she has found, has opened the door to some important conversations with the boys that might not have happened otherwise. “If you’re too focused on structure and planning ‘family time,’ it can end up feeling forced. The biggest takeaway for me is we don’t always have to be doing something. We can just chill and allow conversations to naturally progress,” Andrea says.

While Andrea is missing the in-person interaction with her friends, employees and her volunteer work, she’s enjoying the time she has with her boys and their simpler lifestyle. “We were living in a go-go-go world,” she says. “I miss the engagement but realize that I don’t need it as much. I’m not going to require as much materially and socially after this is over.”

She hopes that will be true for others as well. “I’m seeing families together outside that I’ve never seen together before,” she says. “I hope that of all the things we take away from this, we keep that connection of family.”