Getting creative during COVID-19

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

We may be eating more during quarantine, but many of those stuck at home are getting more exercise than ever. The greenways are packed with fit Farragut residents and their equally fit pets. This is great unless you want to ride your bike fast on your lunch break. I’ve taken to the roads in the subdivisions behind the Farragut Community Center to avoid walkers. While learning my way around Village Green, Fox Den and Country Manor, I’ve enjoyed seeing how kids stay busy during the long days of COVID-19 isolation.

They swing, skateboard and ride their bikes fast, too. They create chalk masterpieces on driveways and hit tennis balls across the road. Surrounded by flowers and electric-green trees, it seems almost idyllic, these cute kids who have been home from school for eight weeks. Eight solid weeks. With no teachers. No activities. Nothing to rely upon except their own creativity and their parents’ patience.

I’ve almost raised three kids and I’m pretty darn sure I couldn’t have handled what parents of young children are being asked to do right now. Many have been sent home to work, and while they’re working, they’re supposed to educate, as well as entertain, their kids. Even without the challenge of working from home, the quarantine makes for a mind-bending amount of togetherness. And grandparents can’t even step in and give exhausted parents a break.

I chatted with one of these super moms today. Caroline Zurhellen lives in Village Green with husband Cody and their children, Porter and Avery. You know they’re super parents because they adopted a quarantine puppy.

Caroline says her secret to keeping it together during COVID is sticking to a schedule. Cody goes to work very early in the morning, and she and the kids get up, get dressed and brush their teeth each weekday before tackling schoolwork for an hour or two. Porter is currently in second grade, and Avery is a kindergartner. After a couple of hours of work, they get cranky, Caroline says. But by then, Dad has come home, and the kids help him with projects and play outside.

“If the weather was worse, I don’t think we’d have made it,” she says.

The “boredom factor” has forced the kids to get creative. They’ve played with squirt guns and tie-dyed T-shirts. Old toys, like a sandbox filled with pea gravel, have become interesting again. Caroline has also taken advantage of Amazon for toys with an educational component. The kids are currently enjoying a new restaurant set that includes menus and pretend food and money.

The family still watches television in the evenings, but she thinks they watch less during the day than they did before the quarantine.

The kids will quit doing schoolwork when the academic year comes to its scheduled end. The family is disappointed that they had to cancel a summer beach trip, but they’ll enjoy camping, biking and kayaking instead, Caroline says. Still, they miss things about their former life.

“Everybody misses going places, seeing people.”

What’s she looking forward to when this is all over? Time alone with her husband. She can’t wait to hire a babysitter and enjoy a date night.

Hats off to all the parents who aren’t just making the best of it but are making memories that will last a lifetime. I hope you all get a date night soon!

Town of Farragut public relations and marketing coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.

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