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Social distancing isn't anything anyone really wants to do, particularly those of us who have kids in the house. We're all used to being active and out places. For right now, though, the centers for disease control are advising that we steer clear of public activities until the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) runs its course (here's what parents should know about it). It's important not only for our own health, but arguably more so, that we do our part to keep those with compromised immune systems safe.

This isn't about us. It's about doing the right thing for those who are counting on us.

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Here are a few ways you can practice social distancing while still maintaining a sense of normalcy in your life.

If you're in an area where schools and / or businesses have temporarily closed, don't worry too much about your child's schooling. Think of it as an opportunity to "unschool" for awhile; give kids a break unless they're really struggling with a topic that you want to keep top of mind. If you need to work from home, know that there are many online homeschool options at your disposal. Interest-based learning, where the child chooses what to learn, can be a gift when kids feel cooped up. It helps keep them engaged.

Support local businesses however you can. Many small businesses will suffer significant financial loss from this pandemic. While local delivery options are still available to us (and with hopes that they will remain so), please choose small businesses in lieu of big box corporations that are likely to survive the financial repercussions of social distancing.

If you absolutely must go shopping (for food or essential supplies) in public, consider offering to shop for someone who might be at risk. Do you have a neighbor or friend whose health might be compromised?

This is a stressful time. All sorts of studies show that when we serve others, we’re happier. When you do something to brighten someone else's day, it's a win/win.

25 ways you can practice social distancing with kids at home (and how you can still get out sometimes).

Fortunately, there are still plenty of outdoor activities that don't require contact with people outside your family. They also don't require going anywhere where we'd be tempted to touch things (we're steering clear of playgrounds).

social distancing

Here are a few outdoor activities we've enjoyed this week or have planned:

  1. Go for a bike ride.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Make chalk art on our driveway and sidewalk.
  4. Go "hunting" for mushrooms and draw pictures of what we find.
  5. Go on a photo safari through our neighborhood.
  6. Make a homemade scavenger hunt.
  7. Make cards for your neighbors and leave them somewhere they're unlikely to have touched (you can use a stick to put in in their mailbox if need be). If you see them, wave at them. Someone suggested we bring back the bow and curtsey -- I kind of love that idea.
  8. Collect acorns.
  9. Dig for fossils in our yard.
  10. Start a rock collection.
  11. Go on a picnic.
  12. Start a garden.
  13. Weed. (What child doesn't love being trusted with a spade and gardening gloves?)

Here are our indoor social distancing activities:

  1. Paint the acorns we've collected and make a homemade game of checkers.
  2. Rearrange the living room furniture to make a gymnastics arena.
  3. Hold a family dance party.
  4. Bake our favorite allergy-friendly (or "regular version") zucchini bread recipe.
  5. Read our beloved books (afflink). Better than buying them, max out your library card and read them online!
  6. Mend all the socks. (Yes, we really did. Again, what child doesn't love being trusted with a needle, scissors, and thread?)
  7. Write stories together.
  8. Tell stories together. One of our favorite games is where each family member adds one sentence or one small section of a story then hands the story off to the next person to continue telling it. It gets very entertaining and everyone stays engaged in the activity!
  9. Make music with whatever we've got!
  10. Make artwork together.
  11. Enjoy completely child-led play. Follow their lead. It's simply lovely to see where they take us in their imagination.
  12. Watch a special movie or show together.

Social distancing with kids isn't the easiest thing in the world to do, but it's a small sacrifice to make for control and prevention for those around us. We all want to be part of the solution so we can get back to life as usual.

Sarah R. Moore is an internationally published writer and the founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting. You can follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram. She’s currently worldschooling her family. Her glass is half full.

I get what it feels like to be a lonely mom. Having moved house an average of almost once per year for the first six years of my child's life, I've spent a lot of time trying to make new friends. I've spent an equal percentage of time feeling discouraged, often alone in a house with a child who was too young to carry on a conversation. There was no Ethel to my Lucille Ball; no Betty to my Wilma Flintstone. Where was the magical next door neighbor (with playdate-compatible kids) who I was supposed to find, anyway?

Further, as a stay-at-home mom, was I supposed to walk up to random parents in the grocery store and offer, say, a good looking lemon in exchange for an hour of coffee together? I'd be lying if I said I hadn't considered it.

Meeting new people can feel entirely awkward---whether you're still living in your hometown or you've moved a million miles away. Sometimes even the connections we do have, including those in our own homes, just don't fill the loneliness void. We can have 1000 friends nearby and still feel lonely.

(I'm using lonely "mom" throughout this article because that's what I was, but this could apply to any caregiver.)

An unspoken, but very real, part of mom life is that it can be one of the loneliest times in our existence.

Research underscores just how real loneliness is for many of us:

A recent survey indicated that 28% of new mothers experience loneliness after giving birth to their first child (AXA Healthcare, 2015). Given that becoming a mother is typically characterised as a time of positive emotions, it is perhaps surprising that this figure is in line with the highest estimates for the percentage of adults of childbearing age experiencing more than occasional loneliness (Qualter et al., 2015). (source)

Further, research demonstrates that exhaustion and self-inflicted pressure to be a "good mom" can add to our feelings of being a lonely mom (source).

No one tells us these things about motherhood before we sign up for it; at least, not in terms that seem meaningful at the time.

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Fortunately, there's hope for the lonely mom.

These tips can help you feel less lonely even when you're surrounded by kids. Of course, if you're living with postpartum depression or anxiety, it's critical that you address the underlying cause and allow yourself to heal.

All of these tips can help your emotional wellbeing.

Use social media wisely.

Using social media for the sake of "connectedness" actually caused me to feel like more of a lonely mom than I already was. As if it were a wolf in sheep's clothing, I felt tempted to trust it to fill my isolation. To the degree that it sucked me in without any promise of connecting with other adults in real life (much less those who'd spawned children my kiddo would enjoy), I now wish for most of those hours back.

I learned that the key to connecting online was to use the tools to see where the (real! 3D!) moms would be. I joined groups of likeminded moms based on my interests. Then, I mustered up the courage to actually go to the events they scheduled. Occasionally, another mama and I would click into an instant friendship.

More often than not, though, I experienced the unfortunate reality that is Mommy Cliques: troupes of women already committed to one another, not necessarily looking to "adopt" a free-standing and secretly lonely parent into their conversations.

What helped here was to go into these groups not looking for friends, but rather, to seek acquaintances. It's simply good to know people; to know familiar faces. For me, that was the first step out of loneliness.

Look for the other moms who look the same way you might feel.

Being a fairly unassuming person raising an introverted child, gently elbowing my way into conversations wasn't particularly productive. So, I found a better way. I learned to look for the other parents who looked like they might feel lonely.

Search for the moms who are standing alone at the playground. Avoid the ones who are engrossed on their phones; seek out those who are warmly engaging with their children. Walk up and say hi. If "hi" isn't your thing (it takes guts!), smile. Pay them a compliment. Say something nice about their child.

But what about the introverted parents? We feel lonely, too, and it's not easy to make friends with strangers! The following tips should help no matter your personality. They're all quick exchanges that don't involve much emotional investment. The worst that can happen is that someone is impolite in response. (That's happened to me only a couple of times. Mostly, people are kind. I've never regretted trying.)

Have your script ready.

In my experience, you do need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that anyone will seek you out if you're not actively making yourself available to meet them. These icebreakers worked best for me. Notice that I'm being direct about my intentions.

If you're wondering if these are essentially pick-up lines, the answer is yes. They're shameless but effective conversation starters to make friends.

Redirect your lonely feelings in a productive way.

When you feel like you need to connect with other people to be happy, you're right. No one should spend any considerable amount of time feeling like they don't "belong." For me, however, I realized that I was making my loneliness about my own desire for happiness, rather than about what I could be doing to bring others joy.

No one talks about this part of being a lonely mom, but I'll risk it: my own feelings of "Hey, people should be embracing me" were, well, all about me. Here's the funny part, though. All sorts of studies show that when we serve others, we're happier. That's a form of true connection. It helps give meaning and purpose to otherwise solitary days---and helps shift our focus outward.

Involving kids in serving others is beneficial, too. It helps teach them their impact on society and broadens their horizons. All the better if they are, but your efforts don't need to be big. Start by smiling at others as you walk down the street. It might be exactly the gift someone needs that day. And you just might happen to meet someone you like.

Talk to someone who helps you feel like less of a lonely mom and like more of a whole, happy person.

As a lonely mom, I realized two things: "I really want to connect with others," and "My mental health suffers when I don't." I also realized that connecting didn't always need to come in the form of new friends. Indeed, it's great to connect with people in person. What still works surprisingly well is to talk on the phone with my best friend from junior high or a friend I knew from graduate school. We don't have kids who are the same age. We can't have playdates. But they know me. They love me. And no matter how far we live from one another, every time we speak, we pick up right where we left off. That, more than anything else, is often what my heart needs.

If we keep "putting ourselves out there," one of the new mamas we meet might someday turn into exactly that kind of friend, too.

Sarah R. Moore is an internationally published writer and the founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting. You can follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram. She’s currently worldschooling her family. Her glass is half full.

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