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Let’s all take a few nice, long, deep breaths.

Hi Friends,

We’ll be needing a lot more deep breathing in these coming weeks!

This week’s episode is a recording of a live webinar Sara Kuljis & I did earlier this week. Our topic was Creating Structure, Fun, & Connection while we have our kids home and have a whole lot of unstructured time on our hands.

Participants shared many amazing resources, which I have included in this post (scroll down). If you’d prefer a downloadable PDF (with links), use the sign-up box below.

While this is a challenging time, we can also view it as an opportunity to evaluate, do a reset and add in more fun and connection to our family lives.

Please send me your challenges, questions, and feedback. I’d love to connect!

Stay well!

Big Ideas

Connection is weaved through everything we do. Try weaving some connection into the structure of your day – a walk with the dog, family dinner, or a nightly game or puzzle are all great options!


The schedule at home will not be the same as at school, and that’s okay. But it’s good for there to be some predictability. For kids who have synchronous classes, their schedule will be dictated by their online classes. For younger kids, or those who do not have scheduled online classes, consider having guidelines about getting school work done before other activities or in the morning.

Instead of following a rigid schedule, consider using a “Daily Checklist.” This allows kids (and parents) some autonomy to choose when to do different things. We’re all feeling a lack of control right now, so giving our kids some choices (when possible) is helpful. Audrey’s daughter, Gretchen, created a checklist for her high school students that works well for adults, too. It incorporates not just the school work, but the other things that will make us feel emotionally and physically healthy.

Read more and download Gretchen’s checklist for her high school students (that also works for adults)!


I talked with Dr. Jess Shatkin about the “Triumvirate of Good Health” (Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition) in Episode 24. Now’s a good opportunity to look at how we (and our kids) are doing in those important areas!

It’s also important to attend to your kids’ emotional needs during this unsettled time, listening and empathizing with them over their losses and frustrations, some of which may seem trivial from an adult perspective. Rather than discounting their feelings, we need to validate their emotions and show empathy. I made this one-minute video about validating kids’ feelings a few years ago. It seems especially applicable right now.

This is also an excellent opportunity to make sure your family has enough of each of what Challenge Success calls “PDF”: Playtime, Downtime, & Family Time. These are common-sense strategies to promote health and well-being.
Download Challenge Success PDF for Elementary-Age Kids
Download Challenge Success PDF for Teens


Try having at least one meal together. If you haven’t been able to have family dinner, try starting now! And let the kids cook or help you cook!

Do some sort of family sharing.

If your family has a faith tradition, consider watching a live-stream of the service or listening to a podcast together.

Exercise together! Get outside if you can to walk, hike, run, or bike. If you have a ping pong table, basketball hoop, or trampoline, take advantage of those resources. Or, stream a fitness or dance video to do together. It could be good for a laugh trying to attempt some new dance or yoga moves!

Cultivate gratitude during these stressful times. With your family, name people, things, experiences and opportunities you are grateful for. Gratitude builds hope, stamina and a kind of “emotional immunity,” and helps us feel less alone. Model how to keep moving forward for our children.

Read together. Consider doing a family read aloud of one of your favorite books.

Come up with a hobby or new activity you can try together, either in pairs or as a whole family.

Pull out some games or puzzles. Learn a new card game to play together.

Want more ideas? Check out these resources, curated by Audrey & Sara and shared by webinar participants:

Family Activity Ideas & Resources

  • My son is 12 and really misses playing with his friends. We take our whole family (son 12, daughter 8) and throw and catch a football on the beach. We only last a half hour or so, but they love it. Also we bike a lot and that is great with social distancing.
  • We are doing a lot of reading aloud. Right now my kids are LOVING the book “Ungifted”. It makes us laugh a lot.
  • Went for a walk and did physical distancing with my 23 year old niece yesterday to connect with her. Books – it is nice to step away and get into a story.
  • Reading out loud with kids while they work on puzzles/legos.
  • There are several restaurants in my town that are offering pick up. I’m taking my daughter a few times a week to pick up her favorite lunch and walk to the beach to eat.
  • If you have access to fleece via amazon or elsewhere kids can make fleece blankets for a group called Project Linus. They are easy to make and fun to do while chatting or listening to music
  • Beetles Project – resources usually for outdoor educators, but in these times, perhaps for families, too
  • Coursera classes are often free and wonderful. My daughters and I did a Yale course on the science of well being and I highly recommend it.
  • For families of the Christian faith, I think this is a great time for family bible studies or book clubs, too.
  • We’ve started asking our kids to research something and bring fun facts to dinner to share with all of us. Funnily, our son thought I asked him to bring facts about Candyland instead of Canyonlands, a place we want to visit, so last night we got a great laugh over the miscommunication!
  • 20 Screen Free Things to do with Your Kids Indoors
  • Watch a TV series together.
  • Take a virtual trip to a museum
  • Another virtual museum list (Travel & Leisure)

Self-Care Ideas & Resources

  • Peloton App – yoga, strength workouts, outdoor run/walks and treadmill/spin bike workouts
  • I do the Calm app each morning with my husband, plus 7 minutes of Pranayama (free app) first. We’ve been doing that for the past 3 years, so nice to already have established.

Academic/Educational Opportunities

  • PBS Kids for Parents provides resources on things like how to talk to your children about Coronavirus as well as activities to do together
  • PBS LearningMedia helps you design at-home learning across grade levels
  • DreamBox is offering free 90 day accounts for online math resources grades K-8.
  • BrainPOP is offering free accounts to students of closed schools, and has short videos on a wide range of subjects with quizzes to take afterward.
  • Outschool – online classes for homeschoolers and is offering discounts during school shutdown
  • KQED TV will be broadcasting educational programming aligned with state standards

Activities kids can do independently (or, for younger kids, after setting them up)

Final Encouragements

Corrie Ten Boom Worrying Quote

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

– Corrie Ten Boom

Watch Facebook Live (webinar was streamed)

Further Listening (or Reading)

Ready for Adulthood

Ep. 124: Promoting Mental Health

Ep. 130: Uncluttering our Schedules & our Homes


When Children Grieve: 7 Strategies to Help Them Cope

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