Being Quarantined With My Kids Isn’t What I Expected

A non-guide guide to spending time together at home.

March 24, 2020
Photo by Meredith Leigh

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.

I’m a mom of four. There are six of us living in our house. One of us is a 15 year-old-girl who tested 98 percent extroverted on the Meyers-Briggs, and one of us is an 8-year-old boy who runs instead of walking, and yells out everything he says.

We also have introverts among us. Me, the writer, and my 12-year-old stepdaughter who recently moved into her closet, so as not to have to share a room.

Obviously, when COVID-19 hit and we all finally settled in at home, a certain amount of dread landed with us, as it has on many other families learning to cohabitate for extended amounts of time. Could we do this?

Over video chat, a friend of mine detailed her family’s schedule—complete with meal times, chore times, screen times, exercise times, math and music times. Alas, my partner and I are not the scheduling type, and so the dread descended further. Perhaps you know what I mean.

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Top Comment:
“My favorite part is the ideal Quarantine House -- we could also use one of those about now. Although I have to think the writer would probably say that her own house rates pretty highly as a Quarantine House considering all the activities going on there.”
— Sharon R.

It’s been almost a week now, and you know what? We seem to be doing fine—well, not just fine, but kind of great. We’ve gotten closer, and find time to laugh together. These are just a few of the things we’ve been doing, and together.

Rosey making COVID cookies.

Kids Activities to do at home

1. Bake a Cake.

The first thing we did was bake a cake and decorate it with the Boston Bruins logo to celebrate my son’s birthday, while also mourning the cancelation of the NHL season.

2. Draw Your Ideal Quarantine House.

We are thinking of great things on the fly, like a drawing activity I devised yesterday for the younger kids, charging them to design their ideal house for quarantine. It was a hit. Nearly every house had a pool (only one with a fully-illustrated flamingo theme). There were tubes from room to room delivering snacks on-demand, rooms for hockey, and rooms for ballet.

An indoor pool, ballet room, and chef room are all part of the ideal quarantine house.

3. From Quarantine House to Quarantine Qookies.

The quarantine house drawing contest led to an idea to bake cookies and fashion them into the shapes of the coronavirus. We gaped at microscope pictures for almost an hour.

COVID cookies.

4. TV, who?

Don’t get me wrong, I am still working. As a consultant and educator in the food world, I’m still busy developing support networks and online education for farmers, consumers, and restaurants. I have a lot of Zoom meetings, and while I do, the kids usually sit on the edges of the coffee table or the bed and stare at me, or make motions with their hands while mouthing some incoherent request. One of those episodes actually led to a fantastic game of charades last night, while the TV sat dark and ignored, and the whole family laughed and shouted.

5. Going outside.

We’ve also adopted fourteen baby chicks, which we picked up at the local Feed & Seed. If you’re concerned about social distancing, you can order chicks online or you can ask local breeders or feed stores what they’re doing to prevent spread of the virus. Our chicks came in two little boxes, which we picked up at the loading dock.** The largest is named Beyonce and the smallest is named Hey Hey.

Each of the kids also has a plot in the backyard garden. I’m most excited for the radishes—they come up so fast, it never fails to amaze minds—small and big.

Tucker (left) and Cash (right), holding chicks.

6. We’re re-organizing everything.

We’re re-organizing all of our closets and our basement, with both enthusiastic and unenthusiastic help. Oh, and we put up a yoga swing in the living room.

It seems to be getting easier. Endearingly, everyone takes part in soothing the teenager during her daily wailing assertion that she’ll die if she has to stay home any longer. We may not ever have a schedule, but we do have a date to pick out old pictures to print and frame when the pandemic is over. Dance parties. Zoom chats with grandparents. Family chicken-watching. Who knows...maybe the teen will figure out how to calm her dopamine cascade, and we will all slow down and look each other in the eye more. All my anxiety for the world aside, at the moment I’m feeling thankful for the quarantine.

What activities have been hits with your kids? Tell us about them in the comments!
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Written by: mereleighfood

Author | Butcher | Farmer | Cook


Amy April 12, 2020
thanks for the great article! .. gotta admit, I was bummed that the "order chicks online" link leads to the (pretty hilarious) so I found it and it was good too
Sharon R. March 31, 2020
Great article! My favorite part is the ideal Quarantine House -- we could also use one of those about now. Although I have to think the writer would probably say that her own house rates pretty highly as a Quarantine House considering all the activities going on there.
mereleighfood April 1, 2020
Thanks Sharon!
Jane March 31, 2020
A++++. This is a great post.
mereleighfood April 1, 2020
Thanks so much!
deirdre J. March 31, 2020
Omg. What a delight to read. Thank you for making it seem more normal than all this feels everyday💪
mereleighfood March 31, 2020
Thanks Deirdre!