Well, the world just got a bit crazy! It feels like we’re living in some kind of weird, alternate universe. I’m strongly feeling the need to make actionable plans during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic scare.

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This once in a lifetime experience is just beginning for us as the coronavirus hits our home county and state. I am in touch with relatives in Italy who have given me pretty dire warnings. They are suffering terribly from their loss of income which was travel and large gathering-dependent. From reports I’ve heard, we are only two weeks away from potentially dealing with the same healthcare crisis that is happening there.

Although some stress and anxiety is normal in this situation, I’m feeling even more overwhelmed from watching way too many news updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. Hanging out on Facebook mom groups with equally stressed out Mamas doesn’t help either. In general, my own personal take will be to remain calm, check the news no more than twice a day and follow the guidelines and recommendations from the World Health Organization and CDC.

We are hunkering down at home as much as possible and being cautious when we do venture out. We are practicing good hand washing hygiene (thanks Holderness Family for your 20 second parodies for hand washing) and keeping playdates outdoors with only close friends. Yay for great North Carolina weather! For this introvert, I can’t say the social distancing recommendations are as hard to follow as it might be for others.

Here is an actionable list and my plans to navigate this strange coronavirus pandemic time.

  • Don’t Panic! Yeah, I know that grocery shelves are empty and toilet paper has become a hot commodity. I understand that this is a serious virus with no known cure and that many friends and family members are at high risk. I worry for my parents and for all of my immunocompromised friends. I’m just choosing not to panic and instead, be a good member of society, suck it up and set up camp for a while. I have Amazon Prime, a stocked medicine cabinet, a pantry full of dry goods and at least enough toilet paper to last me two weeks. Will the kids drive me crazy inside the house all day? Perhaps. But it’s much more important to teach them about selflessness. They need to learn and what it means to be a compassionate human. Protecting others in our society who might be at high risk for critical illness by self-quarantining is a great lesson. They’ll have lots to share with their own grandkids about “that time we homeschooled online for weeks, drove mom crazy and lived through a real pandemic”.
  • Limit Your Excursions Out of the House. I know it’s not possible for everyone to stay put but physician recommendations state to limit trips outside of the home to critical ones only. Yes, you might get bored, kids might get cranky but remember why schools are out in the first place. Social distancing of 6 feet is paramount since the virus spreads through droplets that can move that distance. Delegate one person in your home to be the errand runner. Shop online whenever possible. Most grocery stores have delivery or pick up options. Now is a great time to download their apps and give those services a try. Of course, my fave is Amazon so if you don’t have a Prime membership, now is a great time to get one. If you are on government assistance, Amazon offers an almost 50% discount off the Prime plan. I plan on shopping from my computer and since I have allergy induced asthma (thanks, NC pollen) my husband is the delegated in-person shopper should we need something. And, yes, I plan on washing my hands after unloading groceries.
  • Continue to Support Small Businesses in Your Community. Things are changing day by day so the best way to stay informed about your favorite businesses and restaurants is through social media. Follow your faves now if you haven’t had the chance to yet. Not only am I getting valuable information on how best to support them, I’m getting inside looks to their personal stories, how this pandemic is affecting them and really feeling connected to my community. Unfortunately, this period of time will have devastating effects on so many of our favorite local businesses and we need to do our best to support each other.
  • Please Don’t Be Judgy. If you are on any Mom Facebook groups, ya know what I’m talking about. Sweet Jaysus. If you disagree with someone who is anxious and stressed over COVID-19, just keep it to yourself. If you’re in a panic over social distancing and another mama posts about that grand birthday party she’ll be throwing next week for her kid, deal with it privately. Be kind. There are private messages on Facebook for a reason. There is no need to make snarky, judgy comments that don’t do much but cause drama. Show compassion and understanding for each other’s opinions. When I have nothing positive to say, I won’t say it. Above all, check your sources, don’t spread misinformation and educate gently when you have the opportunity. I’ll be using Snopes and news sites for fact checking.
  • Check on Friends and Neighbors. Stay in contact with family via text or Facetime. Get a Zoom room and hang out with friends virtually. It’s a great time to deepen your relationships, including the ones with your own immediate family. I plan on reaching out to out of state family I haven’t seen in a while and touching base.
  • Use Your Time to Catch Up on Life. You know that Netflix movie you’ve been meaning to see with your teen. Watch it. Could you use a deep clean in your pantry or closet? Go to town! File your taxes early. Create a tighter budget to get you through any income loss you might have to deal with. Learn a new language on your phone. Go for a family walk. Read that book. Meditate more often. Take a course online and learn a new skill. Websites like Coursera and Open Culture offer free courses in hundreds of subjects. I know that when I start compiling my list, it seems endless. What better time to reset your life? I plan to do a bit of all of the above and get a head start to summer vacation.
  • Give If You Can. There are so many ways to give back to those in need in your local communities or nationally. I plan to order a few extra cans of veggies and soup mixes for our local food cupboard. With schools out and some people out of work, there will be a need to help out others. Offer to order groceries online for an elderly neighbor. Pick up staples for that mom with immunocompromised kids. Buy gift cards to your favorite restaurants to use later. There are so many opportunities to practice generosity.

Here are two organizations doing great things during this crisis:

The Food Bank of Northern and Eastern North Carolina is currently in need of dry goods and shelf-stable items that will ensure people have food accessible to them for an extended period of time. Most of all, funds help them make purchases in bulk, and shift their operation as needed in the coming days and weeks.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has launched the CDP COVID-19 Response Fund which will focus on supporting local nonprofit organizations working in areas identified as having high numbers of affected individuals and those who are working with the most vulnerable populations in these areas to help build their capacity for response. These will include social service organizations focused on supporting hourly wage earners, workers in the gig economy, immigrant/New American populations, older adults, people with disabilities and other communities vulnerable to the physical health, mental health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

  • Follow Your Local Bloggers. This is my favorite, of course! There are so many work from home women and moms out there who have been writing about your local community for years. Now is a great time to check them out or follow them on social media. They have an ear on the ground, great perspective and offer an easy way to entertain yourselves during this social distancing time without feeling socially distanced. Here is just a handful of local Triangle moms and/or bloggers that you can count on for great content (food, family- friendly, travel and local). I’ll be doing some blog reading every morning over coffee to find out their takes on coronavirus issues affecting the community.

Linda Nguyen from Girl Eats World

Melissa Vera from Adventures of Frugal Mom

Christina Riley from NC Tripping

Tamara (that’s me!) Feel free to follow me on my more Raleigh-ccentric sister site, See Ya Tamara.

Our situation seems to be changing daily. For now, I’ll just continue with these plans during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and try my best to stay informed and adjust my plans as needed.

It’s hard to predict where we’ll be in a week or two so check back for updates. Stay healthy, everyone! All will be well.

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