From Ashleigh Rhodes, Co-Director of Religious Life:
Like many adults in the US, I am facing the prospect of trying to somehow both work at home for the next three weeks and homeschool my children. Other parents are trying to scramble for childcare, because they cannot work from home.
We are all trying to figure out how to both manage a confusing and rapidly changing situation, reassure and support our children, and answer their questions.
I’m going to include a variety of ideas in this post, but first, I just want to say our priority is to support you during this very confusing time. If you can watch the recorded worship and join us for digital coffee hour this Sunday, great. My kids and I will be there. If not, watch the video when it works for you, or don’t, and reach out when you need us.
Everyone on the St. John’s team is still here, available by phone, text, or e-mail. Nancy is checking voicemails on the office phone. Let us know what you need.
That said, I’m assuming you may need some things to hang on to in the next days and weeks, so here are some ideas and resources, in no particular order. We will share more in the days to come.
My children’s school keeps saying they’re going to send us home with lots of resources to work at home. Doing a little thinking ahead of time about how to organize that work, and how you’ll spend your time, will help that go more easily. Do what works for your family – it doesn’t have to look like a regular school day. Include breaks!
If you are now home schooling, now is a great time to include daily spiritual practices as a family. Do what works for you. Even if you are not homeschooling, even a one minute ritual before going your separate ways might help start or end your day on a better note during a stressful time.
There are lots of online resources for meditations, yoga, and chalice lightings. For just one example, our family uses the “Stop, Breathe, Think” app – there are lots of kid friendly recordings and videos with a character named Bulldog.
The UUA website has a searchable database of chalice lightings and other worship resources at https://www.uua.org/worship/words.
You could try looking for resources on Chalica. Chalica is a UU holiday designed to be observed in December, exploring one of the seven principles each day. It might be rewarding to go through the seven principles now, when there is suddenly time to do so.
For resources on the Seven Principles, and other faith development resources, the UUA Tapestry of Faith website has entire free curriculums for each age group, that you can search for specific topics. It has so much content it can be overwhelming, so please reach out to myself or Marie if we can support you! We would love to help.
As far as I understand, at this point public libraries are still open, although they are encouraging social distancing and encouraging folks to hold on to the books they have already checked out.
Edit early Saturday, March 14: The Cincinnati Library has now said they will close all locations. They do have great options for digital content. I highly recommend their Libby app, which is easy to use and provides access to ebooks and audiobooks for every age group, including picture books. The library has separate content available in the Hoopla and Freading apps, so if there’s a particular title you’d like, it’s worth downloading those as well. Searching the main catalog will tell you what they have available in each platform.
The public library also has options to access a lot of non-book content. Try Kanopy for video content you might not find on Netflix. If you don’t have a public library card, you can get one online.
Link to the Cincinnati Public Library: https://www.cincinnatilibrary.org
They have also posted a page of resources for K-12 educators and caregivers: https://blog.cincinnatilibrary.org/Blog/covid19educator
We want you to know that the St. John’s library, including the books from the library we checked out for our current theme, is also available to you. We have books for all ages on a variety of topics. Please contact Marie or I at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested!
We at St. John’s are actively working on ways to connect folks in the church online.
Things we may be able to do – virtual youth choir, virtual movie night and discussion where we all watch the same movie, and schedule a time to talk about it (Frozen II has been suggested!), opportunities to record your kids singing songs for future worship services, and sharing them with the worship team to be included.
We will share those opportunities with you as we develop them, but in the meantime, connect by making the effort to call or videochat with friends and loved ones.
One of the obstacles to videochatting with small children and older relatives can be that children may not interact with the phone that well for very long. One thing that works well for some families is doing an activity while chatting – make an appointment next week to prepare and eat lunch at the same time, or do puzzles at the same time, and let the talk happen naturally. If you’re interested in having help arranging things like this with other St. John’s members, please let us know!
It is still okay, as I understand it now, to go to the park or on a hike. Scheduling some regular time outside will help with everyone’s mood. Even just a walk around the block might be a great routine. Thankfully we have warmer weather to enjoy right now! Learn how to do a “walking meditation” and try to do one with your kids in the backyard.
Reflect and support
Get what support for yourself that you need in order to support your children. Help your children understand what is happening in a calming and age-appropriate way. Give your children time to share their feelings and process. Journaling can be helpful for both adults and children – even children that can’t write yet can very much enjoy drawing along with everyone else.
Be gentle with each other, and yourselves. We are all doing the best we can.
If you need resources or help or just time to talk, please reach out to the staff at St. John’s. You reach three staff members at email@example.com. We want to connect with you.