By Dina Alexander
What a strange, fascinating, time to be alive! With all of our modern comforts and technology, we have found ourselves naturally vulnerable to a debilitating virus known as COVID-19. Although only 2-5% of the population is directly affected by the actual virus, 100% of us are being impacted by the stay-at-home orders and the threat of illness.
There have been so many changes to my everyday life that I can’t keep track of them all. Everyday has new surprises–some negative and some positive. Sometimes there is a new found peace and relaxation, and other times there is an immense anxiety and frustration. We’ve had financial setbacks and blessings. For my husband and kids, there have been disappointments and tender mercies.
Although we’ve been discouraged and lonely at times, I have gained a strong testimony of the mindfulness of our Heavenly Parents. During the first few days of quarantine, my two boys were under the delusion that they were now on vacation. Within a couple of days I was arguing with them about doing chores, practicing piano, and working on online homework assignments. My husband and I quickly realized we needed to change up our parenting strategies. We also realized that EVERYONE we knew seemed to be going through something.
I’d like to share some of what we learned in the hopes that these truths will help you.
If You are Prepared, You Will Not Fear
My husband is an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor. So, when the COVID-19 news coverage started, we discussed the virus and what it would mean for our family, community, state, country, and the world. We couldn’t understand the panic (and we still don’t understand it). There were, and continue to be, so many conflicting “expert” opinions, salacious headlines, scared social media posts, and a variety of national and local policies to sort through. We had to remind ourselves over and over again that we were fine. We had a savings account, no personal debt, and most importantly, a habit of spiritual nourishment.
We found comfort and solace in doing those things that have spiritually prepared us: personal and family scripture study, family history, “home church” with our kids, reading uplifting books and articles, daily exercise, and work. For me, working on my next books, even if just for a few minutes a day, helped give me purpose.
Prioritize Come Follow Me and Family Prayer
What a blessing this program instituted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been for my family! Introduced last year, my family and I had already included it in our family routines before church meetings had to be canceled.It is an inspired program with an easy-to-use manual and thought-provoking discussions. We are far from perfect in conducting our family scripture study, but like President Russell M. Nelson said in our April General Conference, “The Lord loves effort, and effort brings rewards…He doesn’t expect perfection today. We keep climbing our personal Mount Sinai.”
God blesses us when we try, even if our kids may look bored out of their minds, or the discussion only last a few minutes. My testimony of Come Follow Me has grown over the past year and a half as a result.I know there is a spiritual protection to each family member when we do all that we can to head the council of the Lord’s prophets.
Pick Your Battles–with Yourself too!
When schools closed, I had so many plans about the things I could do with my kids and the things I wanted to teach them. I wanted to take them hiking, teach them various home skills or art projects, and so much more. Most of those things didn’t happen. I felt overwhelmed at the idea that I wouldn’t be able to give my children the enrichment they needed and deserved during these isolating times. And soon, the Spirit whispered to me, “It’s okay.”
Just like many of you, I had to learn to be flexible— to compromise. Every single day I had to really think about the most important things that absolutely needed to be done. It turned out the number of “really important things” was very small. I decided to pick which things to insist upon with my kids and which things were not of long term value. I’ve come to realize that prayer, scripture study, exercise, food, and some form of intellectual stimulation are essential to each member of my family–but almost everything else can go.
This was a little more difficult for my personal list of “to-do’s.” Thankfully, the Holy Ghost helped me to realize many of my personal deadlines were just dates and numbers, and our Heavenly Parents aren’t particularly fussed about such things. Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, reminds us, “Women wear many hats, but it is impossible, and unnecessary, to wear them all at once. The Spirit helps us determine which work to focus on today.”
Work on Yourself
Suddenly faced with stay-at-home orders, many of us find ourselves with a lot more time, whether alone or with family members, than we quite know what to do with.
There have been a few times during the quarantine where, while journaling and praying, I’ve realized that I could be making better use of my time. I’ve often found myself staying up late watching too much Netflix or scrolling through social media for long periods of time only to realize these wasted hours have not been beneficial to my spirit. They have generally been an impediment to my emotional and spiritual health. Though it may be tempting to slip into holiday habits while we self-isolate at home, we would be wise to set screen limits for our kids and ourselves. Now is the best time to pursue meaningful hobbies and improve skills that we simply didn’t have time for before now. All of us will be healthier and happier for it!
I hope life gets back to semi-normal soon, but I know I can be flexible whatever happens. I’ve learned that much. And I’ve grown closer to my Heavenly Parents. I know that whatever our trials, whatever our frustrations, They are on our side blessing us, guiding us, and listening to us. Whether in quarantine or not, if you are facing hard times, please talk to Them. Pour out your heart and ask for help. Listen to Them and allow Them to bless your life.
Dina Alexander is the founder of Educate and Empower Kids (educateempowerkids.org), an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. She is the creator of How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She is also the author of Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good and Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure.
Most recently, Dina has published This is the Spirit of Revelation for Latter-day Saint children and their families, and Conversations with My Kids, 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age.
Dina received her master’s degree in recreation therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelors from Brigham Young University. She loves being a mom and spending time with her husband and three kids. Together, they live in New Mexico.
Prioritize and Give Yourself a Break!
“Women wear many hats, but it is impossible, and unnecessary, to wear them all at once. The Spirit helps us determine which work to focus on today.”–Joy D. Jones, from her talk An Especially Noble Calling given in April, 2020 General Conference
Great FHE Resource!
Great discussions and timely topics. Conversations with My Kids has all the vital talking points you and your kids need for our Digital Age. Written by Latter-day Saints who know and understand your challenges. All profits from the sale of our books are donated to LDS Philanthropies.