First there was an unprecedented call to Americans: #Stayhome to help decrease the anticipated spike in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Then last Thursday, Governor Thomas W. Wolf announced that all of Pennsylvania’s schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year to protect the health and safety of the students and our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stores are closed. Streets and six-lane highways are empty.

Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation are unfortunately the mandated buzz words.

Changes in routine can be downright stressful.

And solutions are clearly not “as seen on TV” or available at Home Depot.

Families are facing new challenges and most are creating and incorporating ingenious, novel boredom remedies to cope with this “new normal" until the virus is under control.

The COVID-19 boredom boom brings uncharted parenting dilemmas!

The first step: take a deep breath. JUST BREATHE.

Enjoy the extra family time during this hiatus and play, read, watch a movie, or exercise and stretch jointly. Know that we are all in this together. And together we will get through it.

"Isolation is bad for a species addicted to social intercourse," said Henry Porter, novelist and Vanity Fair editor.

Stay connected with family, friends, and support systems using technology. Embrace the tools available.

“A virtual connection to the world is currently mandatory, as many things are ONLY accessible now through the internet," shares Bob Strack, aka Dr. Bob Computers in Bristol Borough (215-206-5909). "Particularly during this time, we all need to be extra vigilant re: Phishing [fraudulent attempts to obtain personal info], as well as advertising scams. We all need to double check any requests for info by calling the company directly that requests that data."

The plea presented was that someone would pitch something positive regarding dealing with their coronavirus cabin fever. Exactly how does one stay entertained, engaged and feeling positive?

Everyone seems so desperate for any bright, humorous and positive stories to help cut through all the doom and gloom of this difficult and uncertain time.

Try to focus on ways to disconnect and feel calmer. JUST BREATHE.

There’s simply no getting around it. Boredom can be excruciating.

Have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee.

You may be bored, but others are scared. Always be kind.

“No matter what comes our way, we are connected by love. It makes us rise over, and heal,” explained Ewelina A. Zettlemoyer, Croydon.

Call. Your. Grandmother.

While you're at it, shop around online for something for your grandmother. And do it with a smile.

"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are," said Mason Cooley [1927-2002].

First, have a look at your own personal library and pull out that book that you’ve never managed to get around to reading. In this time of restriction, TV, film, books, and video games can offer us somewhat of a chance to be mobile, while keeping loneliness and boredom at bay.

Reading is a great way to occupy oneself and keep the mind sharp while staying mentally engaged.

“Snyder-Girotti Elementary School has issued a challenge to our families. It's called the 21 Day Read Aloud Challenge," said Title 1 federal program coordinator, Mary Younglove Gesualdi. "It's a great opportunity to get parents excited about reading books with their children and to build a daily read aloud habit. Our teachers, community members (shout out to Jim Fine who provides one every day) and our students have posted videos of their “read alouds”. If anyone would like to contribute, send a video of you reading a favorite children's book or poem [*April is National Poetry Month] to our Title I Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Facebook page at snydergirottipac@gmail.com."

Libraries are closed during the coronavirus lockdown but digital collections and tools remain available.

“Libraries are really stepping up to help their patrons during this pandemic, focusing on all of the digital resources they have available. Many are offering story times and art lessons for kids on Facebook and YouTube and everybody loves libraries. What a wonderful resource the local library really is!” confirmed Michele Pavone Stricker, Deputy State Librarian of New Jersey.

Creativity and art matters, more than ever, as people now have the time to move inward to the vast inner space of their thoughts and imagination. Arts and their contribution to our well-being become evident and, in some ways central, to coronavirus confinement for those of us locked in at home.

Art really can set you free. It tests creative methods, and it connects one to a world where anything is possible. Hey, you may even want to consider entering a contest.

What are your passions? What are your interests?

Explore new forms of creativity. Art is a great way to keep our spirits uplifted.

Shuttered doors mean nothing to some of us.

“I celebrate Jesus' Judaism, and ask for His protection that COVID-19 will pass over this house. When you can’t get to church, bring it home where it belongs...in your heart,” shared Valerie Mitchell Vitzthum, Feasterville.

HA! Then there is always the genial chuckle that can be the panacea for people ‘confined to barracks’, another one of the skills of resilience. Positive reframe time.

Laughter primes the pump for working towards solutions.

“Humor! That’s how I get through. I’ve been writing ‘Sun’ on the calendar every day that we’ve had sunshine. I couldn’t help but notice that since they ordered a “stay at home”, it just started raining all the time, so I was tracking sunny days. Well my son looked at the calendar and looked at me and said, “You’re keeping track of the sun?” It didn’t seem crazy until he pointed it out to me. Now I feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining,” admitted Debbie Lebo, Bristol.

Then there is still cooking and baking and eating…. the kitchen just may earn the favorite room award!

Now is a great opportunity to meal prep, cook, and fill up your freezer to its limit.

By the way, rumor has it that cakes make everything better, so baking is a sure way to make you and your loved ones feel a little less stressed!

Still nothing to do, you say? Learn how to cook even better. Put your boredom where your mouth is!

“I cook, since the 'stay at home' was ordered. I have been reading recipes from magazines and YouTube. I found this chicken recipe and it is colorful and looked good. I had all the ingredients required, so I cooked it,” confirmed Raquel Cruz Vertucio, R.N., Bristol.

Hard boiling and decorating Easter eggs is always a thing; an especially beloved tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century. Easter, April 12th this year, usually occurs towards the beginning of spring, a season when plants bloom and animals give birth. Eggs in particular are a clear symbol of rebirth and fertility.

“We consider ourselves fortunate during Week 4 of isolation that it coincided with Holy Week and we were able to pursue this Easter family tradition created by our daughter, Valarie,” shared Susan and Eran Rubinstein, Esq., Buckingham.

Granted, a time like now can test our collective ability to make sense of a new normal, and we mourn for the time before, that may never come back. So, start structuring during unstructured time!

Throw away that pile of newspapers, magazines and random papers that have been building up in a corner for months. You don't need them, trust me.

Yes, the public is still continually being urged to #StayHome as we reach the critical stages of our national response to COVID-19. So, don’t waste this time. Improve your skills and knowledge.

Perhaps this is your chance to learn a new language, learn how to code, or just to do anything else you’ve been putting off, or even try something not exactly essential in life, like juggling.

But do pursue some meaningful goals. Knowledge is power, always.

Study! It’s now possible to take thousands of top-level courses online, completely free.

Visualize possibilities and take big strides toward them.

And if you're still really bored: Take a shower, fix your hair, dress up, and snap a selfie.

Stay ready my friends.

The treadmill we have been on for decades has merely stopped for now.

This situation really isn’t going to last forever. We are just on “pause”.

Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com

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