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Relationships in the time of Covid 


Article by Jami Nato

Photography by Jami Nato

This spring started out rough. We complained about having to be with our kids and being locked down while seeing none of our friends. I was the first of these complainers, I'll admit. But, there came a turn of events: we started to intentionally look at this time as a gift and enjoy it with the people right in front of us: Our family, our neighbors, and our close friends.

If you follow me on the socials, you know I have long discussed the importance of finding your quarantine bubble and sticking with it (as long as everyone is comfortable and healthy). I know that is not an option for all, but if you can band together with the same values and precautions, you might find a very rich community in the making. The kind we all long for but just haven’t had the time to make. I have a feeling we'll all have quite a bit more time than usual as we approach the winter.

So as 2020 shapes up, it would seem we have a battle in front of us. The school closings, delays, parents wondering how we’ll do this again. With all of the worry, we often end our days confused and sad. May I suggest something more meaningful than constantly checking news feeds and instagram? 

R E L A T I O N S H I P S . With those right in front of us: our families, our neighbors, our close friends. In real life. (IRL!)

How do we cultivate relationships outside the internet? How do we get away from screens when we’ve come to depend on them for the information, drama, and especially mind numbing escape? 

  1. Put boundaries around the screens. How much do you really want your family looking at screens after we have to ZOOM all day? Set a healthy boundary, communicate it, and teach yourself to stick to it. For us, we’ll be looking to take away IPAD’s from the kids to create a screen free environment unless traveling (Fat chance!) or special occasions. It's becoming too much for our eyes and hearts to handle! Not to mention the trouble kiddos can find easily.

Tech that is super helpful for IRL community: Group texts you want to be a part of. While these can be out of control, they can also help us feel connected to our different friend groups. Our neighbor lady group chat is always buzzing with the latest memes and also heartfelt asks for help, groceries run add-ons, margarita emergencies, etc. We intentionally know what’s going on with each other, which takes vulnerability to say when you are going through a rough patch. It only takes one person leading in vulnerability before the others follow suit! 

  1. Pick your people. Set your group Values and guidelines (you likely already know who thinks like you at this point). Ask them to be in your bubble. Again, I know that's not feasible for everyone, but for those who can, it's worth taking a look at.
  2. Make 2 lists: A) What do you want your kids to do before they play? Ours is Brush hair/teeth, make beds/pick up room, Eat something, Homework. That’s it. DO NOT make long lists! It is frustrating for everyone. B) Make a list of activities your kids can do that don’t involve making you entertaining them. I ask often, “Who is in charge of your boredom?” Surprise , It’s not me! 
  3. Make your calendar intentional. The English major in me likes sticking with alliterations, but I also find it helpful in remembering.

Mild Mondays (WE DO NOTHING!) : the need to rest is real if you tend to play hard on the weekends or have lots of activities.

Taco Tuesdays: Can the kids make this dinner while you oversee-ish? Or can you go grab tacos with a couple friends at your fave local restaurants? Your Local biz is desperate for your support right now!

Work out Wednesday: can you hire a local trainer and do driveway workouts with the neighbors or friends? Or can you take turns leading a workout? Listen, I say we bring back the Jane Fonda Leotards and get to it right in front of God and everyone.

Thirsty Thursdays: bevies in the driveway with neighbors after the kids go to bed? Mocktails with moms? Draw 6ft circles in the driveway with chalk and everyone bring a lawn chair and BYOB.

Freezer Fridays: Pull random stuff out of the freezer and have dinner with your bubble or social distance circle. Set up tents for the kids to stay in their space if that helps. The Rule is, the food has to be a leftover or from the fuss!

Whatever gets your through the days with a little spark of joy is what we're going for. Present it to your fam/neighbors/ or friends and ask them to protect it on their calendars too! You will be so surprised at how helpful a rhythm is in stressful times.

Lastly, I will conclude with a few Ideas for that screen free life(and there are a billion more in the internets): 


Paint with water outside on concrete with paintbrushes and only water. It dries up, no mess, they are entertained for a while you stare at a blank wall.

Pack a picnic and drive somewhere else near or far… the kids will be thrilled and you might enjoy the silence on the drive. Just kidding, but you can turn up your fave jams the whole way and sing loud.

Make a nature scavenger hunt list and go on a walk with paper lunch sacks, the longer the list, the more time consuming. Offer a prize at the end! 

School age: 

Work on a cardboard village. This can take WEEKS! Never throw away old cardboard, particularly giant boxes. have no shame if it's old wine boxes, we are just getting by! Stock up on the duct tape and paint and see what you’re kids can do! 

Pen pals through snail mail. This has been so fun for my kiddos and also a life lesson on how to write mail! 

Sock puppet theatre. Craft your stage and your puppets with things you find around the house. Then make a script! This lasts days and days! Then throw the puppets away when they sleep. Just kidding... maybe?


A quarantine bubble nurf war with teams that lasts 2-3 days. These are hilarious and you will have to decide your quarantine rules like, outdoor only. We just finished a game and the teenagers only looked on their phones to scheme against each other’s parents and send videos of them getting caught. It was fun to play with our big kid again!

Get them involved in public service /kindness acts. At this age, it’s time to learn we must look outside ourselves and serve others. This may take a bit of pulling teeth, but in the end, you’ll be glad they learned to see who’s yard need’s raking, driveway shoveled, or trash picked up. It’s a good quality time activity for parents and teens. 

Incentivize them to read. Some of you don’t have to do this, but we definitely do! Make a book list, and offer cold hard cash or that thing they’ve had their eye on. You could even read books together— ok! Maybe wishful thinking. 

I hope this helps give you a glimmer of hope! We are better together, we are better in a rhythm, and we are better without all these screens all the time. Let's learn from the last go around, and make a plan to live more intentionally as we move forward.