Five(ish) ideas for documenting the pandemic

This time of quarantine, stay at home, and a worldwide pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime. Undoubtedly, we will remember it. Our kids will remember it, too, and their perspective may be vastly different from ours. We’d like to encourage you to document this time for them; especially if they are too young to remember much themselves.

I originally wrote this post in April, but requests for posts about Mother’s Day and Graduation (rightly) pushed it out. As life begins to get back to a new normal in most parts of the country, I think it’s even more important to document things. History has shown that as much as we think we will remember, the pull of everyday life will soon have us forgetting at least the nuances of what this time has been.

I’ve been making the effort to document quite a few aspects of this time for my kids. I plan to compile everything into a photo book when life gets back to some kind of normal. I’ll share some areas I’m covering. I hope you’ll consider doing something similar for your kids – even if you just scratch things down in a notebook when you have the chance. I think they’ll thank you for it later.

Foods

Food has definitely been a big part of this time for my family. Are you making foods that you might not previously have had the time to make? We’ve made homemade pasta, tried our hands at German spaetzle, bagels, several types of bread (which seems to be the theme of quarantine for many), the infamous Disney Dole Whip (YUM!), and Peeps s’mores. Our weekly pizza night has changed to always homemade and the kids have been enjoying the ability to choose toppings to their individual tastes.

School and work

I’ve taken pictures of my kiddos working on school work here at home and pictures of my husband working from home, too. I plague them … I capture them in all the different places and positions they now study. I’m making a note for them that they are usually done with school by early afternoon because that’s a big change, too. My fourth grader will be moving to middle school in the fall and missed out on quite a few fourth grade traditions this spring, like the Lumberjack breakfast. We recreated it here at home and took lots of pictures.

Pastimes and new skills

I’ve been keeping tabs on favorite movies and shows that bring us a bit of comfort during this time. Harry Potter is a fan favorite and a cheer goes up every time we find a marathon running on tv even though we’ve seen them a zillion times and own them all. Little House on the Prairie has been on a fair bit as well and it’s been fun to watch as a family just like I did growing up.

We’re a big board game and puzzle family. Those things typically only make it onto the schedule Friday through Sunday around here, but they’ve been a near daily occurrence with no evening activities and no homework after school hours. The kids have learned some new games and we’ve found some simple, family games that get the whole family involved in raucous cheering, smack talk, and laughter.

Are your kids doing lots of arts and crafts? My kids have been making cards and sending notes to the residents of a local assisted living facility to help keep them company while they are denied visitors and my girls have each formed a friendship with one of the ladies they correspond with. I’m documenting that, too.

Is anyone in your family learning a new skill during this time? One of my teenagers has decided (to my delight) to take up photography. It’s been fun to share in her excitement and watch her skills grow. My youngest (10) is learning how to cook and to use a chef’s knife in the kitchen. With more time on our hands, I’m able to cook more slowly and allow the extra time it takes her to do things. My camera is always on the counter and I have a bunch of pictures of her in the kitchen with me during this time. I get my husband to shoot some of the two of us as well so that I’m in the frame.

News

I’m documenting major headlines and a timeline of big pieces of the pandemic on a state, national, and world level. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. I’m also documenting all the good being done in the world and how we come together. If you haven’t done this all along, but would like to, I found it easy to search backward on our local news site (as well as the national ones) for statistics and major headlines pertaining to the pandemic. It’s not too late!

Milestones and celebrations.

We’ve celebrated Easter, a birthday, a couple of adoption anniversaries, some lost teeth, training wheels coming off, and Mother’s Day. There have been some positive effects of having these things occur during quarantine and also some things we had to miss out on this year. I’m keeping a record of how these celebrations have differed this year compared to others.

Your perspective

I’m recording my experiences. It’s not atypical for the grocery store to be out of a thing or two, but I’ve never before needed to meal plan based on what may or may not be available. And the toilet paper. You have to document the toilet paper! Gas prices are of no interest to my kids right now, but the low cost will likely be a huge wow factor when they look back at these books as adults.

Don’t forget to include your feelings. Were you anxious during this time? Sad? Angry? Uplifted by the nation coming together to do good? I think I’ve honestly felt them all and I want my kids to know that. While they may (hopefully) not face another worldwide pandemic in their lives, I want them to know that it’s okay for adults to have lots of feelings, too.

Their perspective

I’m planning to ask my kids a series of questions (soon) about their perspective on this pandemic. I don’t feel like it would be right (or thorough) not to include it. I don’t quite have it finalized, but I imagine that I’ll ask what their favorite things we did during the pandemic have been, what worried them the most, what their biggest bummer has been, and just a general question about what they’d like me to keep a record of.

We hope you’re encouraged to document this unique time – in this way or in another. We hope you and your families are staying safe and staying strong.

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