COVID coping: In the pandemic, getting through the day feels like a project

Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY
How to safely move during a pandemic
How to safely move during a pandemic

Who's ready to pack up and move in the middle of a global pandemic? Oh wait, that's me. I apparently am. 

I wrote several weeks ago that my husband and I had made the decision to move, not just out of our apartment but to a new state, even as the COVID-19 crisis continues. It was a hard choice to make, but as the end of our lease approached, the forced separation from our families wrought by the pandemic came to mind first. With the OK of our workplaces, we decided to move to Pennsylvania to be closer to family.

Moving is a production during normal times, but a monumental task during the pandemic. But there's a certain clarity that comes from the survival mode we've all been living in since this began. We know it's the right thing to do, even if packing is no fun and keeping ourselves and our movers safe will be difficult.

We've all had to take on big projects in quarantine, beyond the sourdough bread loaves that dominated Instagram. Just getting through the day is a project, whether you have to deal with childcare challenges, work on the front lines in health care or the grocery store,  are attempting to wade through the unemployment quagmire, or any number of challenges.

You can do it. I can do it. We can get through today's project. And tomorrow's. I believe in us. 

Today's 'back-to-school' advice

No amount of sparkly gel pens, three-ring binders or Elmer's glue can make the 2020-2021 school year normal. As more districts announce virtual learning at least to start the year, it's clear that it's going to be a tough one for students, parents, teachers and staff. 

But there are a few things parents can do to make this unprecedented back-to-school season a little more special (if you have the time, spare change and/or bandwidth, I know how hard it is just to juggle work and childcare without adding special projects). USA TODAY's Jenna Ryu spoke with homeschooling experts about how to mark the transition from summer to school season for students of all ages. A few suggestions:

  • Make it a countdown. The first day of school should still be a day to look forward to. "Read 30 school-themed picture books to countdown for school. Use a wall calendar and have the child draw a picture on each day to count down. Or a countdown banner that holds 30 special notes to read each day leading up to the first day of school," Tonya Abari, a writer and homeschooling parent, suggests.

  • Take senior portraits. You could hire a photographer to take your kids' senior portraits from home, whether it be formal or casual. With fancy zoom lenses, your photographer can stay six feet away outside and capture good shots (plus, natural light makes better pictures, anyways). Or, to avoid spending extra money, you could set up a photo studio in your living room with a backdrop (a sheet hung on the wall, for instance) and props from around the house. Take lots of photos (at least 100) from different angles with your phone and let your senior choose their favorite.

  • Choose a special first day of school outfit. Just because classes are online doesn't mean your student shouldn't stop an iconic back-to-school tradition. While you're hitting the back-to-school sales, let your child choose some trendy and special outfits for their first day of school. "Having a new outfit can be a huge motivator that will get your child in the back-to-school spirit," says Leticia Barr, a technology, education and parenting blogger. 

See more ideas here. And I wish every parent, student and teacher the most luck possible with the fall. I'm thinking of all of you.

Students and teachers at Tennessee State University embrace virtual learning amid COVID-19.
Students and teachers at Tennessee State University embrace virtual learning amid COVID-19.

Today's reads

  • Hey, speaking of moving, our friends at Reviewed.com posted this helpful list of tips for doing it during the pandemic. (I'll be writing about my experience, too, when I return.) 

  • If you're trying to maintain a long-distance relationship amid the pandemic, I can only imagine how hard it is. We have some tips to help. 

  • So what's up with those clear face masks? We have the info. 

  • Rep. John Lewis will lie in state in the Capitol for a second day Tuesday, giving the public time to pay respects to the civil rights icon and longtime lawmaker before he's laid to rest in Georgia. See our report here. 

  • I couldn't take today off for my move because the Emmy nominations were announced this morning. Here's our coverage

Today's pet

Meet Duffy! He is very productive at home. 

"Duffy"
"Duffy"

"So sick of working from home, miss my office friends," Duffy says. At least that's what his human Carol Enciso said he says! 

Us too, Duffy. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Staying Apart, Together: In quarantine, every day feels like a project

More From