If you are struggling to make sense of quarantine, why not work through those tough emotions in a journal. Here are twenty-five quarantine journal prompts for deep reflection.
Are you as baffled as me about what has happened this year? This time last year we were facing job loss and doing through those struggles. By September our lives had quieted down. I can’t even imagine explaining this to my past self from a year ago. It is surreal to think about where we are right now. Like most people, I have some pretty strong, complex emotions about all kinds of topics surrounding quarantine. So that got me thinking that it might be beneficial to work through some of the emotions and even logical reactions I’ve had to some of this quarantine business. I felt better after having journaled about these things. Maybe you will as well.
For me, the hardest thing about quarantine was not seeing my parents and my family. It was very hard to be away from them particularly when it came time to celebrate birthdays. But it also made me appreciate how important it is to have meaningful relationships. For example, although I am very grateful that we had Zoom and social media platforms to use as a lifeline for social interaction, it also made me realize just how valuable the human social experience really is. I promised myself that when this started to settle down, I would stop relying on social media to make me feel connected to others. The truth is, it doesn’t. In fact, it provides only the illusion of connection. Seeing what someone had for lunch or where they went on vacation does nothing to bond with another person. In fact, some research suggests that this actually creates the fear of missing out and even emotions of jealousy. Today, I decided to take a break from Facebook in lieu of more personal connections. I plan on taking about a month-long break and see where it leads me. If you’d like to take a break from social media, be sure to read my other posts Living Without Likes and Social Media Detox.
Has Social Media Become the New Journaling?
I also needed a break from opinions. I am as opinionated as the next person, but scrolling through my Facebook feed was beginning to feel like a constant heated debate or like watching a 24-hr news cycle. It was just exhausting me mentally and emotionally. One thing I have noticed is just how polarizing opinions are when it comes to quarantine. I have seen blatant disrespect and sanctimony on both sides of the argument.
Some citizens are concerned that basic rights are being stripped away under the guise of “protecting us.” Others are concerned that the virus is deadlier than the government officials report. There is evidence that suggests news outlets are being less than honest about a wide range of information. There are real, intense emotions that come with isolation, job loss, and death. Regardless, of how you feel about these things, I want to challenge you to perhaps try reflecting and processing some of these thoughts in a journal and not on a social media platform.
Trying Taking Opinions Offline
I’m not saying you shouldn’t express your opinion publicly. But I do think that it is healthier and less damaging to relationships to first work through (and perhaps release) your emotion to a journal which is benign instead of your friend’s newsfeed. Honestly, that is probably one of my biggest pet peeves about Facebook. Many people use it to express every thought they have almost like a journal and it is very hard to take words back once they are published publicly.
I think as we work through emotions our views may even evolve. I know I felt one way in March and differently in May. However, this process is interrupted when we do this online. People challenge us, criticize us, and condemn us, for our viewpoints which then causes us to defend our position. This defensiveness then stops us from challenging our own perceptions and arguments because we go into defense mode.
Either way, I think that the events around COVID-19 and quarantine have been unlike other events. Take some time and express how you feel and what you think without the consequences of personal attacks.
Quarantine Journal Prompts
How has quarantine changed your world view?
What can you learn from this experience?
Describe three quarantine memories.
How do you feel about things reopening?
What was the hardest thing about quarantine?
How am I connecting with friends and family right now?
How has quarantine made you more grateful?
What are you afraid of right now?
Will you continue to practice social distancing? Why or why not?
Where have you seen the good in people during this?
Looking back, do you feel like quarantine was necessary?
What did an average day in quarantine look like?
What is one thing you wish the world would learn from this?
How has social media affected your attitude during quarantine?
How will you describe this event to future generations?
Describe what you will do when this is over?
What gives you hope about this situation?
Write down some positive plans or goals for the future.
How do you feel about the political landscape right now?
Did anyone you know become sick with coronavirus? What was that experience like?
If you had been President of the United States, how would you have handled the situation?
What were your initial feelings about Coronavirus during January and February? How have your feelings evolved?
How do you feel about China’s handling of the virus?
Describe any self-discovery you experienced.
How have you been financially affected by the pandemic?
Other Journaling Prompts
Before you leave, be sure to take a look at some of my other journaling prompts.
Are you struggling to stay happy during the COVID-19 outbreak? You can still find peace and contentment even during these tough times. Here is how to find joy during social distancing.
Fear Is the Real Infection
I don’t fear the virus so much. I have a father who has major heart disease and complications from that. I have a son who has severe reactive asthma. I certainly fear it for them. I will be secluding myself in my home for likely the next twelve weeks. But that isn’t what really scares me. The truth is, many will get it and the great majority of us will be just fine.
To be honest, I fear people. I fear their hysteria and panic. Already videos are starting to emerge of people fighting in stores over toilet paper. Toilet paper! The world is not ending. At least not by a virus. People need to calm down. The biggest threat to society is not the virus, it’s panic.
Like all pestilence, Coronavirus will run its course around the globe. In fact, most of the world is already fully involved. Let the bug do its thing. Social distancing will flatten the curve so as not to overwhelm our healthcare system all at once. This bug will never go away. It will make its rounds every year now, much like the flu. Get used to that idea.
Don’t forget that out of all the countries in the world, we in the U.S. have a great advantage. We have a robust health system, some of the top minds, ingenuity, and some of the greatest resources. In twelve to eighteen months, we can even expect to have a vaccine. Already some medications like those used to treat HIV and Malaria look promising in treating Coronavirus. We will be just fine. This will pass. It will not last forever. Stay calm.
Focus On What Really Matters
That said, I want to share how to find joy during social distancing. You know, in some ways, there are silver linings in all of this. I’ve lived in other countries before. Americans are very busy! At the very least, this is causing our busy lives to slow down. Over the next few weeks, we will all be forced to take note of the things that really matter in life.
When this is all over, we will appreciate a lot more. We will appreciate being able to go straight into a store and being able to pick up a pack of toilet paper. Every restaurant will be packed with people. Pews in churches will be full. Things like this show us what we take for granted.
How to Find Joy During Social Distancing
Turn Off the News
Seriously, turn it off. I found myself doing that this week. This will only bring on feelings of doom, panic, and fear. You already know what you need to know about the virus. You really don’t need to know much more than that. If you want to start feeling “normal” again, turn off the news. The media has already poured gasoline all over this and lit this thing on fire. They’re responsible for inciting the panic we are seeing. Reject it. Choose calm.
Don’t Panic Buy
Like I said, I don’t fear the virus, I fear the hysteria. Most people don’t think of themselves as being hysterical. Hysteria is really just acting out of extreme emotion. Its letting emotion determine your actions instead of common sense, logic, and reason.
You see things disappearing from the shelves and you think, “I better buy some now or there won’t be any left when I need it.” So you grab one. Then you think, ” I better grab two or three. There won’t be any for me.” This fear of missing out is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People overbuy because they fear there will be a shortage. Shelves are empty. So they attempt to buy more fearing there is nothing more coming. Now a shortage grows and it drains supply chains. And the cycle continues. Stop the madness. Decide that from now on, you will only buy what you would normally buy. The only way this cycle stops is when people decide to return to normal.
Don’t just do your part to flatten the curve. Do your part to end the insanity. Choose which emotion you will feed – peace or fear.
Connect With Someone Everyday
Text your friends. Reach out to relatives. Take advantage of FaceTime and other video chats. Connect through Facebook or IG Live. Utilize the tools we have to stay in touch virtually. I even took some time this week to write some letters to family. I challenge you to reach out to at least one person every day. Check up on people. It’s very important to maintain socialization even though we are physically distant. Its the heart of what it means to be human. Now is a great time to focus on maintaining and investing in relationships.
Did you know your body’s brain chemistry responds to sunlight? When your body detects sunlight through the optic nerve, your melatonin levels decrease (the neurochemical that makes you feel sluggish and sleepy) and your serotonin increases (the neurochemical that elevates mood). If you have a backyard, spend as much time as you can in it. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. If you are in an apartment, take your laptop on the balcony and work outside. We aren’t stuck indoors. We are just trying to stay physically distant from others. Take a hike in nearby hills. Grill out and eat dinner outside. Have your kids ride their bikes. Garden. Spend some time outdoors and you won’t feel so cooped up. Remember we aren’t avoiding the outdoors, we are avoiding crowds.
Move Your Body
Staying active can do wonders for your mood. Try to stay active even while we are at home these next few weeks. Take a walk. Exercise. Just move your body. It increases serotonin levels, makes you feel refreshed and gives you more energy. These days, there are lots of home workouts you can stream. You can even find free ones on YouTube.
Part of the panic buying is because we are afraid we “do not have.” One way to stay grounded during a time when others are fretting and worrying is to remember all that we already have. We have already been given much. I challenge you to take five minutes out of every day and write down five things for which you are grateful. Alternatively, you can do my Gratitude Journal Prompts and answer one question a day. Staying grateful helps you stay positive. Focus on the positive!
Over the last couple of days, I’ve seen people on Facebook asking for posts that aren’t virus-related. The constant bombardment of the panic, hysteria, and fear-mongering posts is stressful. I admit I was sharing a lot of that stuff. But as I scrolled through my newsfeed and saw people begging for something else – anything else – I decided that I will start turning the tide. I’m going to start posting normal, everyday things. Happy things. Encouraging things. I’m going to be a light in the darkness. I will remind people that it’s going to be okay. People need to hear that.
I challenge you, go out and be a light. Be encouraging. Be uplifting. Spread peace. Invite calm. Don’t engage the fear, the hysteria, and the madness.
Take Breaks From Social Media
That said, take a break from social media. I know it can feel like a lifeline right now, but its also flooded with virus-related negativity, debates, and fear-mongering news. I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand when I suggest avoiding this. I’m suggesting balance. Take breaks and get your mind off coronavirus for a little while. The truth is, social media hasn’t connected us the way we’d hoped. If anything it made relationships more hollow. If you really want to know what is going on in someone’s life right now, pick up the phone and call them, FaceTime, or text them. Today I avoided social media and it felt amazing! I had no idea how much anxiety was being driven by Facebook.
I once read something that described anxiety as a fear-centric TV show that we produce and direct ourselves. We take snippets of images and themes in our head and turn it into a fear-centric show with ourselves as the star. We imagine and play out our worst fears over and over again as if it is really happening. Prayer is effective because it makes God the star and not us. God becomes the hero. Exactly one year ago, I created a 30-day scripture reading for anxiety and fear. You can follow along by doing one verse per day.
I highly encourage you to pray when you start feeling overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, worry or fear. God promises never to leave us in times like these. More than any other phrase in the bible, the “do not fear” mantra appears more than 300 times in scripture. God knew how scared we would be about the unknown, but he tells us over and over again that we are not to fear, not to panic and he is always with us. Scared? Pray. Worried? Pray. Anxious? Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit for his peace.
Create & Stay Busy
Most people don’t idle well. When our brain isn’t engaged, sadness and boredom can set in. Stay busy. The biggest silver lining in all of this is that we are being forced to slow down. We are normally so busy and this is forcing us to cut out obligations and events. Take a week or two just to rest. Then get back to keeping active. Treat it like a staycation. Attitude is everything!
Find a way to volunteer virtually.
Try new recipes in your cookbook.
Bring out your craft supplies and create something.
Play virtual games with friends.
Declutter / reorganize your home
Mix cocktails at home.
Play games as a family.
Read or Host a Virtual Book Club
Write short stories
Stream exercise videos (there are lots on youtube)
Get some DIY projects done. Fix things you’ve been meaning to fix.
Take virtual tours of museums, national parks, etc
Put your Christmas lights back up to add some cheer.
I’ll write a separate post on all the things you can do at home, but here are some ideas to start with.
Helping others has a dual effect. Obviously, it helps someone in need, but it also makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. It feels good to help other people. The panic buying? That”s selfishness. Reach out to those around you and see how you can help each other. Barter supplies. Do small acts of kindness for people you know. Check in with elderly neighbors. See if they need anything. In moments like these, the world needs our humanity, kindness, and mercy. If you are looking for a more corporate way of giving back, there are websites online that allow you to volunteer virtually.
I didn’t really get to celebrate my birthday because of all of this. Normally I’m not a big birthday person, but it was a milestone this year. I turned 40. So this week, I decided to treat myself to some art supplies that I wanted. A couple of nights ago, for example, I made a few dozen chocolate chip cookies for absolutely no reason. These days, you may feel very worried. Make sure to take opportunities to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself here and there to small, simple pleasures.
If you are feeling stressed over this, remember to take this one day at a time and reject worrying about the weeks ahead. Keep busy with your family and remember that this will all end soon. We will survive this.
With kids being home during the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be wondering how to keep your little ones busy. I’m sharing some boredom busters for kids to keep you from losing your mind at home.
With the COVID-19 virus, lots of schools have extended Spring break or suspended classes. While that might be fine at first, I think a lot of moms are intimated and maybe even a little terrified that cabin fever will set in.
For homeschool mamas like myself, this is just another day for us! But that got me thinking that a lot of moms out there are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pass the time at home. Most of what we do is learning activities, but I’m sharing some ideas that are mostly just boredom busters for kids that you can do.
Boredom Busters for Kids
Grab some old birthday balloons you have kicking around. Blow them up. Grab some spatulas from the kitchen and let your kids play indoor tennis or ping pong with them.
Laser Obstacle Course
Do you know those half-used paper party streamers that are at the bottom of your party decor drawer? Take them out and create an obstacle course. Cut various lengths of the streamers, tape across hallways, doorways, and walls. Let your kids crawl and maneuver around the course without touching any of the streamers.
Free Education Subscriptions
With lots of schools and daycares being closed, many education websites and apps are offering Free subscriptions for the duration of this outbreak. You can find a list of companies here.
I admit I’ve got some rambunctious boys and one thing they love to do is roughhouse. Mama isn’t too into that, but I do love a good sock fight. There isn’t much to it. Take some clean socks, ball them up and have your own indoor “snowball” fight.
Dramatic play is a type of play where kids are assigned roles and then act it out. Typically, there are lots of make believe props to help kids immerse themselves in make believe. For example, if you child is playing vet perhaps you make their stuffed animals the patients. Create forms or pretend x-rays, give them a doctors kit. You get the idea. Create a simulated environment.
Dramatic play is great for vocabulary, building social skills, modeling adult behavior, sharing, taking turns, fantasy/reality, helps them use their imagination, etc. Here are some ideas for dramatic play. We do dramatic play and let me tell you that creating the dramatic play center is just as fun as playing. For example, if we are playing store, the kids select boxes in our pantry to be the grocery store items and they help me set up the “pretend store” and cash register. The setting up keeps them just as busy as the actual activity does.
Watercolors, tempera paint, finger paint – it really doesn’t matter. Painting is fun sensory experience for any kid and it’s therapeutic. If you’ve got a small child and you are really worried about the mess, you can always do it in a dry bathtub then just give them a bath afterwards.
Indoor Water Table
Use your bathtub. Fill it up with a little water. Add measuring cups, toys, and other water-friendly things. We actually use a long, shallow (under the bed) Sterilite tub. I add some colored bath drops to make it more interesting.
Build a Fort
Come on, admit it, you loved building forts as a kid. My older brother made some really elaborate forts with tunnels and we’ve always found that sheets work the best because they don’t weigh as much. If you don’t want to build a fort, you can use a small pop-up tent. Set it up in their bedrooms or in your living room and watch how easy it is to get them to go to bed!
Indoor Picnic / Pinic
Lay a comfy blanket out, find a comfy spot in the living room and turn an ordinary meal into something special. Or better yet, have an actual picnic outside. Put a quilt down on the grass and take your food outside. Afterwards, lay on the blanket and gaze at the clouds. It’s funny how just switching up everyday things can change the mood!
Moon Rock Toss
Gather some small waste bins or other containers and line them up at different distances. For added fun, label points on them. The farther away the more points. Then crumple up balls of tin foil and take turns trying to throw them into the containers.
Cardboard Box Play
Maybe you are like me and you have a ton of cardboard boxes in the garage that you haven’t had time to cut down and put in the recycling. Well, there are lots of ways your kids can play with them and it will keep both you and them busy. Just take a look at some of these really cute ideas.
Full confession – I’m a nerd and I love jigsaw puzzles. We actually love to do jigsaw puzzles and now that my oldest son is getting older he is starting to get interested in them too. We love Thomas Kincade ones because they are pretty challenging. They take a while, they kill time, and the whole family can do it together.
Music is not only great for getting energy out, it’s great for lifting spirits. I put music on all the time for me and the kids and it helps us get out of a rut. Put on some tunes and get you and your kids dancing. If you want to get creative, try looking up a popular dance on YouTube and learn the steps. Suggestions (Cha-Cha Slide, The Hustle, The Charleston, The Cupid Shuffle, The Thriller Dance, Texas Two-Step, The Moonwalk, etc.)
All you need is a ball and empty plastic containers like water bottles. Set the water bottles up in a hallway or long room and try knocking them down. Traditional bowling uses ten pins, but you could use less if you wanted. Six works really well also.
Make Pasta Jewelry
You stocked up on a bunch of dry pasta, right? Why not let your kids use a little to make some pasta jewelry. All you need is a string and pasta with a hole like penne, elbow macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, etc. You can even dye it different colors. Here is how to color dry pasta.
Get your kids to draw self-portraits or portraits of each other.
Keep a Diary
If you’re kids are old enough to read and write, why not have them journal about the COVID-19 quarantine day by day. Encourage them to pen their feelings and observations about all the things going on around us right now. If you doubt the value of doing this, remember how Anne Frank’s diary has become a treasured account of the horrors of World War II.
One thing my kids really love is kinetic sand. If you haven’t used this, it is a lot of fun. It’s almost as if play dough and sand had a baby. It’s way easier to clean up than regular sand and its completely moldable. This can keep my little ones busy for hours. Sometimes I put little toys underneath the sand like little toy dinosaurs, plastic bugs, and seashells and let them excavate them in the sand. They absolutely love that!
We have a few of these that we pull out on rainy days. First, they are educational and they brush kids up on their alphabet, colors, shapes and early math skills. For older kids, maybe get crosswords, sudoko, mad libs and brain teasers.
10 and Up
Bingo is a fun game the whole family can do. You can purchase one online or you can use the one I created in my post, Valentine’s Day Bingo Game. You can print it out on your home computer and play right now. For square markers, you can use dry beans or pennies.
Memory Matching Games
Memory matching games are super fun for kids. You can certainly buy some online, however, I have a Halloween Memory Game you can download for FREE and print out on your home computer.
Make Your Own Play Dough
You can make your own playdough at home. It really is very simple. Just a side note, homemade play dough out very quickly, so make sure to store it in an airtight container.
Here is what you need to make it at home
2 Cups All-purpose flour
¾ cups salt
4 tbsp cream of tartar
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
Food coloring (optional)
Quart sized zip lock bag or storage container
Make Birthday Cards
Have your kids make some birthday cards for your family members this month. Let them use glitter, stickers, markers / crayons, sequins and any other spare craft supplies. Then mail them to people!
I love playing dominoes, but my preschooler loves to set up dominoes to knock them down. Challenge your kids to set up a long domino fall. We love using this set below, because it has 91 dominoes in the set.
Make Fake Snow
We do this all the time as a winter activity. We don’t get snow here in South Texas, so we make our own. All you need is 3 cups of baking soda and half cup of conditioner.
If you are doing this outside you can use sidewalk chalk. If you’re doing it inside, you just need painters tape or masking tape. All the jumping around wears them out and gets out their wiggles.
Make a Pretzel Log Cabin
We found this cute activity a while back on how to make a pretzel log cabin. All you need is some pretzel rods, confectioners sugar, and water. It was a fun STEM activity for my little guy.
Write a Soldier
If your kids are old enough, have them write a letter to a soldier and thank them for their service. Soldier’s Angels is one place to start, but it is more of a pen pal setup and they ask that you write to your soldier for at least three months. If you don’t want that kind of commitment, you can use Any Soldier. You can choose to send a letter or a care package.
Alphabet “Sand” Writing
My son loves to do this! Just get a mostly flat container, lid or tray and fill it up with salt or granulated sugar. Give your little one a pencil, paintbrush (use the pointy end) or another instrument and have them practice writing their letters in the “sand.”
Rice Sensory Bin
Make an indoor “sandbox” using colored rice. It’s very easy to make. You just get 4 cups of rice, 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and food coloring. You can make batches of different colors if you want “rainbow” rice. Put it in a container and give your little one scoopers and any other toys they want. This keeps my toddler and preschooler busy for a long time! It’s very easy to clean up, but you can always do it outside if the mess bothers you.
Give your kids a stack of old magazines you have kicking around and ask them to make a collage of everything they like.
Blow up a balloon and challenge your kids to see how long they can toss is around without it touching the ground.
This is is kind of a no-brainer, but sometimes, I think people forget how versatile this one is. There are so many board games to choose from.
Some of our favorites for young children (ages 3-5) are:
This can be a fun STEM activity. Take various liquids of varying density and let your kids discover how the liquids separate. You can use liquids like water, oil, dish soap, honey, milk, rubbing alcohol, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc. As an added bonus, you can drop small objects like (a small ball, a cherry tomato, a popcorn kernel, a penny, etc.) and see if it floats or sinks through the different liquids.
Make Your Own Race Track
Don’t throw away the cardboard in paper towel roll. I save them for the kids to make their own racetrack. I tape some to the wall so my boys can put their hot wheels inside and see it come racing out. There tubes I cut in half lengthwise and we tape them all together to make a track. Don’t forget to add the dotted line in marker so it looks like a road. It’s funny. My kids have actual toy race tracks, but I’m always surprised at how making our own is so fun to them.
Take a Virtual Museum Tour
Lots of museums around the world offer virtual museums online. You and your kids can explore museums and their treasured works right from your couch! Take a look at these virtual tours.
Hide some candy, a toy or anything else your kids might like and get them to hunt for it. Alternatively, if you don’t want to hide a single item, you can do a treasure hunt version of “eye spy.” Basically a scavenger hunt. Ask them to find the following:
Something taller than you
Something you throw away
Something that starts with a letter ‘S’
Something that moves
Something you wear
Something that can’t get wet
Something that made of wood
Something with numbers (but not a watch or clock)
You get the idea…use your imagination. Additionally, you can take this and give them an outdoor version of eye spy.
Something with wings
Moss or algae
Give your kids a list and this will keep them busy for a while.
Another fun STEM activity is to build sculptures out of nothing more than marshmallows and toothpicks. Stick the toothpicks into the marshmallow and keep building!
Draw Your Own Comic Book
If you have a child who loves to draw, encourage them to come up with a special character and have them draw their own comic book on paper.
Use some Washi tape, masking tape or painters tray and make a tic-tac-toe board on the floor. Take paper plates and write X’s and O’s with markers. It’s kind of silly how just making it large makes it more fun for kiddos. Take the activity outdoors on the lawn too!
Sink or Float Experiment
Grab a glass pitcher or other large see-through container (like a storage tub). Fill it up with water. Then gather small objects of varying sizes and materials. (examples: cork, coin, rock, bottle cap, toothpick, crayon, plastic toy, etc) Have your child choose one object at a time and have them guess if it will sink or float. If your child is old enough, have them record their findings on paper. Take the opportunity to explain why an object sinks or floats. If an object floats it is less dense than water. If it is denser, it sinks.
Water Displacement Experiment
I did this with my oldest son when he was both three and four. It’s a great STEM activity that introduces fluid mechanics to your child. We talked about Archimedes and his theory of fluid displacement. Like the sink or float experiment, you will need a large container full of water. Leave some room at the top. I like to use dry erase markers if the container is glass or plastic. Gather household objects of varying weight and size. Insert each item individually and watch how much the water in the container rises. Get your child to mark where the water rose with a dry erase marker. Fluid displacement is all about volume. When an object is immersed in a fluid, displacement occurs as it pushes the fluid out of the way and it takes it’s place.
Make a Cardboard City
Take some of those empty Amazon boxes and food boxes and turn them into your own cardboard city. Use wrapping paper of construction paper to cover them up and draw on them. Then have your kids get their toy cars and people and let them play in their city.
Other Helpful Things
Maintain a Schedule
At our house, we maintain a schedule. It isn’t rigorous, but it ensures that we are mixing things up during the day. Here is a quick look at our schedule over the next coming weeks.
This might sound overly simple, but reading is one of the best things you can do with your kids. Seriously, take this opportunity while we are all stuck at home and read to them! If your child is older, have them read classic literature. Great stories like Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, and Little Women never go out of style.