Spreading cheer, from a distance
Kids stay busy, have fun despite social distancing
With schools closed and many adults working from home for the foreseeable future, families are looking for ways to pass the time and keep their spirits up.
With the help of social media, families across the country are coming together to brighten their neighborhoods by decorating their homes’ windows with paper hearts and rainbows, encouraging other families to take walks around their neighborhood to see the window displays, while also maintaining adequate social distancing.
Darci Bangert, of Fort Dodge, and her kids, Adelyn, 8, and Avery, 7, made a rainbow out of paper hearts in their home’s front window. They also decorated signs to hang in the window wishing Adelyn’s friend a happy birthday.
The Bangerts also wanted to brighten up the day for some people who can’t go out and walk their neighborhoods right now. Earlier this week, they delivered Wendy’s Frosty treats and coloring pages with encouraging messages to the staff and residents at the Marian Home.
“I know that multiple places like the Marian Home and Friendship Haven have mentioned that these folks are stuck inside,” Bangert said. “And we wanted to do anything we could to help brighten their day.”
Sara Hill, of Fort Dodge, and her kids, 8-year-old Lylah and 6-year-old Everett, also decided to brighten up their neighborhood. The family made and decorated signs to stick in their yard to greet their neighbors and wish them good health. Hill said she saw the idea to make yard signs on Instagram.
“We’re just trying to take it one day at a time,” Hill said of the social distancing and self-isolation.
She said that while the family tries to keep to a schedule and have the kids do their school workbooks for a few hours every day, that doesn’t always happen, and that’s OK. In the meantime, they’re finding other activities to stay busy and have fun.
“I finally let my kids make slime,” she said. “They’ve never been allowed to have slime in the house. We’re also trying to get outside for a bit and run around every day.”
The Hill family is also watching family shows together to pass the time, like “LEGO Masters” and “MasterChef Junior.”
Other families are putting together scavenger hunts to do while taking walks around their neighborhoods. While going on walks, kids can look out for like a budding flower or a blue house or a red mailbox, or any other fun sights.
Some neighborhoods around the state are doing “neighborhood safaris,” where they place a stuffed animal in their home’s street-facing window, so families can drive by and see the “zoo animals.”
Heather Liska, of Fort Dodge, and her kids, 14-year-old Karson, 12-year-old Mason and 10-year-old Makayla, are trying to spend their time doing a family service project.
“My kids have been learning to wash, iron, pin and sew masks,” Liska said. “We are using material we had on hand and now we are receiving donations of materials.”
Each mask takes about 20 minutes to make, she said. In two days of working, the family made 67 masks.
“My 10-year-old daughter is a master at cutting the patterns with the rotary cutter,” Liska said. “My boys have learned to use the sewing machine.”
The Liska family has delivered its masks to chiropractic offices, pharmacies, cancer patients and their families and individuals with high risk health issues.
“This project has brought us together as a family during this time of uncertainty,” Liska said. “Doing good for others, while we are sharing memories of special ones in our lives and making new memories. These are the things I want my kids to remember most about the pandemic, not the death toll and stores closing.”
If you have activities and projects you’re working on during this time – especially those appropriate for teens, young adults, older adults and families — send an email to email@example.com. Your ideas may be featured in a future issue of The Messenger.