Tips For Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hi Friends! The updates, stories and images we are receiving constantly regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus can be overwhelming. This is the first time we have been faced with a situation like this and it’s hard to know exactly what to do. I am by no means an expert or claim to have any answers. Like many of you I am trying to find a balance between being prepared while at the same time not overreacting. I always find it helpful to check in with friends seek inspiration in how to deal with life’s challenges and validation that I’m on the right path. I hope that by sharing some of the ways my family is preparing for the weeks ahead that I might do the same for you.

Food & Household Supplies

If you haven’t gone out to buy supplies yet, take a moment to inventory what you already have at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having a two week supply of prescriptions and over the counter medications, food and other essentials. Example: One Costco package with 30 rolls of toilette paper tends to last as least 2 months in our household. When you arrive at the store and see other people grabbing multiple packages of toilette paper and rice it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy. Remind yourself how much you actually need so that there will be more than enough for everyone. Personally, I am keeping a 3-4 week supply of essentials on hand.

Here are some items you don’t want to forget about:

  • Prescriptions, Medication, First Aid Supplies pain relievers,  stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, vitamins, and fluids that contain electrolytes contact lens solution, hearing aid batteries, thermometer covers, feminine products, diapers
  • Household Supplies hand soap, toilette paper, Kleenex, paper towels, detergent, dishwashing soap, trash bags, sanitizing wipes, shampoo
  • Pet Supplies medication, food, bedding, kitty litter
  • Food fruits, veggies, dairy, protein, carbohydrates for breakfast lunch and dinner. Don’t forget coffee and wine 😂

I took inventory of my pantry, refrigerator and freezer and made a 3 week meal plan. I included all the items that I already had on hand and made a list of the ingredients I would need to make each meal complete. Storage space can be limited and I wanted to make sure to make use of what I already have. I tried to use a variety of meats and grains to keep things interesting, plus frozen and canned fruits and veggies that I can turn to once our supply of fresh produce runs out. I included plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. The first week of meals takes advantage of our most perishable items. Here is our 3 week meal plan with some of the recipes linked in case you find yourself with similar items:

  1. spaghetti and meat sauce (freezer) with caesar salad
  2. cream of mushroom chicken with rice and fresh green beans
  3. bean soup (freezer) with bread and a green salad
  4. oven tacos with Mexican rice and apple slices
  5. chicken alfredo with frozen broccoli
  6. flatbread pizza (frozen naan, mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes)
  7. one pan pasta with meatballs
  8. orange chicken with rice and green beans
  9. tortellini with pesto and fresh tomatoes (or sun-dried tomatoes)
  10. freezer hamburgers (Costco) with sweet potato fries and apple sauce
  11. chicken skillet noodles
  12. harvest pasta sauce and penne with frozen vegetable medley
  13. chili (canned) and cornbread
  14. tamales with Mexican rice & refried beans
  15. premade chicken marsala (Costco) with egg noodles
  16. potato cheese soup (freezer) with bread
  17. grape jelly & chili sauce meatballs over rice with vegetable medley
  18. mac and cheese with chicken tenders (Costco)
  19. teriyaki chicken and rice
  20. sautéed chicken breasts with orzo and pesto
  21. Johnny Marzetti casserole (freezer)

I had several batches of soup and a casserole already in our freezer that I want to use. The tamales and chicken marsala are premade from the Costco refrigerated section. The hamburgers, chicken tenders and meatballs are also premade from the freezer section at Costco. I made sure we had enough frozen chicken breasts, chicken thighs and ground beef in the freezer to use for various meals and bought just enough to fill in any holes.

At the grocery store I restocked our regular supply of fruits and veggies (making sure to choose whatever had the latest expiration date) and selected an array of frozen and canned options to round out our food supply. Frozen spinach and fruit chunks for smoothies, canned fruit to top yogurt and cottage cheese, and frozen green beans, broccoli and a vegetable medley to serve as a dinner side.

We are well stocked with eggs, oatmeal, cereal and frozen waffles for breakfast. No school will be a fun excuse to enjoy pancakes on a weekday morning. I bought the mix that only needs water so that we won’t cut into our milk supply and will add frozen blue berries for an extra serving of fruit some mornings.

I double checked that I had enough black bean burgers, grilled cheese sandwich makings (I froze an extra loaf of bread) quesadillas supplies, corn dogs, frozen acai bowls, peanut butter toast and smoothie ingredients because these are the lunches my kids gravitate towards most.

Activities for Children

Yesterday, it was announced that our local schools will be closed for the next month. To be honest, I’m really looking forward to the time with my kiddos without the usual bustle of trying to get to sports and activities. My mind is spinning a little with all the ideas I have for spending our time together. I realize that I am extremely fortunate that I have the luxury of spending the next month at home with my children, but I know that many of you will still need to find a way to go to work or work from home. For those of you with older kiddos I am attaching some updated printable that I shared on the blog last summer. Whether you are at home with your older children or they will need be on their own, this checklist can offer some structure to the day and make sure that it is not just a month spent in front of the screen. A blog reader recently asked me to include a blank checklist as well so that you have the ability to edit it to fit your needs.

Click here to print

The closest experience I have had to what we are going through now was duding the ’89 earthquake. I lived very close to the epicenter and due to the damage my town experienced, school was cancelled for a week. Although I’m sure it was a scary and stressful time for my parents, I have only positive memories of gathering with neighbors in the front yard, eating oreos for dinner and camping out in sleeping bags. My parents did a great job shielding us from scary images, while at the same time making the best out of the situation and assuring us that we were safe.

Here is a great page of resources for the current situation.

I want to be intentional with this time together. Although my son says he would prefer to spend his days playing Fortnite, I know that when he looks back on this time 10 years from now he will be more likely to remember a day we set a goal of playing every single game in our collection or took a late afternoon hike and enjoyed a sunset picnic dinner. Here are some of the ideas I have for making the most of the next month:

  • Listen to the How I made This podcast.
  • Listen to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls podcast
  • Watch a TED talk
  • Practice a foreign language using Duolingo You can compete with family members and friends to make things a little more exciting
  • Pull out your old camera, look up photography tutorials and practice using the manual setting
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Go for a bike ride, hike or even just an after dinner walk every evening to get out the wiggles
  • Sketch, paint, color, create…
  • Check out Art for Kids Hub. It includes art lessons for kids, including how to draw, paint and do origami
  • Use this checklist to get a jump start on spring cleaning. Make a list of all the areas in your home that need a little organization and cross one item off your list each day. Check out the @mel_larson #40bagsin40dayschallengewithmel highlight on Instagram for inspiration.
  • Check out e-books from your local library if you need to replenish your reading supply and don’t feel comfortable visiting your local branch.
  • Fill a bowl with writing prompts and have your child draw a new one each day

Be aware of the media that you allow into your home. While we need to stay informed the constant news updates can cause anxiety. This article is a good resource for parents of all ages to help their kids deal with disturbing news. This article is another great resource.

Don’t Forget:

  • Continue to pay housecleaners, gardeners, etc… They count on the money they receive from their clients. Encourage them not to come to your home if they show any signs of sickness and assure them now that they will still get paid.
  • Continue to support you local businesses. Ask your favorite boutique or fitness studio to send an e-gift card to friends on their birthday. Ask your local bookstore if they would be willing to ship book purchases to your home if you pay the shipping. Order take-out from you favorite restaurant for a date night at home.
  • Check in with your neighbors, friends and family. The next few weeks can be isolating and FaceTime, an old fashioned letter or phone call can brighten someones day.

I’m keeping you all in my prayers. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything or have advice you would like to share. I’m would love to update this post with your tips, ideas, and strategies for the next month.

Take Care,


  1. Andi

    March 14, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you for the blank checklist! I love your practical tips. I do think that this time is a great time to take back the simplicities of life. Thanks Parker Post!

    1. M Parker

      March 15, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      You’re very welcome! Enjoy these next few weeks with your kiddos 😀

  2. Sherrill

    March 14, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Love this MP! Thanks you! I just knew you would have a list of things to do to help the pass the time! Great food options too!
    Agree checking on your neighbors is key! G has been sick last few days and I ran out of tissues – luckily my neighbors came to the rescue! It’s so crazy out there – hard not to panic when others are panicking! Scored some tissues early this morning – very grateful! Thanks so much for your post! xo

    1. M Parker

      March 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      You’re welcome! I am so glad that you found this useful. I’m sorry that G isn’t feeling well, but it warms my heart to hear about neighbors taking care of each other. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

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