#NJstrong has taken on a whole new meaning since we started staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Finding the silver lining of quarantine life matters more than ever. Never before have we been more united in our gratitude for healthcare heroes on the front line of this pandemic as well as every essential worker making sure we are safe and have access to food, medicine, and other necessities.

Meaghan Murphy chalk art

These past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. We’ve felt anxious, scared and hopeless. But we’ve also felt peaceful at home with our loved ones, grateful for all that we have through this tough time and more united than ever before knowing we are in this together. And we feel hopeful, knowing we will get through this and be stronger for it. We feel thankful knowing that the simple act of staying home is making a big difference and that we can pull together to help those who need it most by donating supplies, food and more.

yoga at home

In the spirit of positivity, we asked our mom friends to share the silver lining of quarantine life. We hope reading about their bright spots will bring you joy at this tough time. Want to share your silver lining with us? Email me at editor@njfamily.com so we can share it with other #NJstrong families.

Stay healthy, stay positive and stay home!

Meaghan Murphy, Westfield
Mom to Charley, 9, James, 8, Brooks, 6
Content Director, Woman’s Day
Co-host Off the Gram Podcast
Author “The Fully Charged Life: A Radically Simple Guide to Having Endless Energy and Finding the Yay in Every Day” (Penguin-Random House 2021)

Meaghan Murphy

NJF: What’s been the silver lining for you and your family through this period? 
MM: Family dinners! Pre-pandemic we were running in a million different directions from practices to playdates, never really sitting down at the table for a meal TOGETHER. Now Team Murphy GETS to eat as a family every night. My favorite part is that we throw out a “table topic” and go around answering the question of the night. Things like: If you could make a castle out of any material, what would it be? Or, Fill in the blank. I’m most confident about…You’d be surprised by the interesting conversations these stimulate.

NJF: What has been a sanity saver for you and the kids on work from home/school from home days?
MM:
Homeschooling is harrrrrd. My husband and I both have full time demanding jobs that haven’t slowed down and our 3 kids require hands-on guidance. The key for us has been waking up and brushing teeth, making beds and getting dressed as if we were leaving for school. We’ve established a pretty rigid schedule with even things like snacks, lunch and trampoline time literally penciled in. Kids (all of us!) thrive with routine and sticking to the daily calendar has been a sanity saver.

NJF: What have you done to make the weekend at home special and fun?
MM: We save the big projects for the weekend—not that there’s any free time during the week. The days feel packed! Last weekend we created a giant chalk mosaic in the driveway. This weekend we decorated for Easter and we’re making bunny crayons and baking. Also, we let the kids have a “sleepover party” in their big sister’s room, watching movies on the ceiling with a mini projector. They love it and my husband and I get a little quiet alone time to binge-watch Joe Exotic!


Karen Cahn, Montclair
Mom to David, 16 and daughter Ryan, 13
Founder & CEO of iFundWomen

Karen Cahn, iFund Women

Karen Cahn

NJF: What’s been the silver lining for you and your family through this period?
KC:
Oddly, we’re all getting along better. One kid has been making extra money by babysitting her sister to give her working parents an extra set of hands so they can get work done. She has also been selling her gently used clothes on Depop. So, we have a budding entrepreneur in the house. The 16-year-old has been keeping us all abreast of every piece of breaking news so I don’t have to watch TV news at all, and I consider this a real perk of him being home.

NJF: What has been a sanity saver for you and the kids on work from home/school from home days?
KC: Ignoring them and letting them do whatever they want. I’m not trying to control anything anymore and they’ve actually been better behaved than ever. They have fallen into a natural rhythm of doing their school work in the morning, going outside in the afternoon, and pretty much tethered to their iPhones in between. It’s been fine.

NJF: What have you done to make the weekend at home special and fun?
KC:
Nothing. Just being together and present is fun enough. At least for me. I’m sure if you ask them they would say they are bored.


Mary Massey, Boonton
Mom to Kiana, 15, Sebastian, 8
Life & Business Coach

Mary Massey

Mary Massey

NJF: What’s been the silver lining for you and your family through this period?
MM: I’m thankful to already have been working from home for a long time but adjusting to having the kids at home full time was a challenge due to not having that “quiet time” to work anymore BUT I must say that it’s been a blessing to get to know each other a little better, especially my teenager.  We have played games and have tried new recipes together. I’m just immensely thankful to still be able to work, help others and enjoy my family and putting all my mindfulness exercises to good use in order to remain calm, patient and look at the bright side of this situation.

NJF: What has been a sanity saver for you and the kids on work from home/school from home days?
MM:
Being able to continue to teach my fitness classes via Zoom keeps the endorphins going!  There’s nothing better than a good sweat session to decompress and clear the mind. I’m so grateful that we have the technology to help us get through this period of quarantine.

NJF: What have you done to make the weekend at home special and fun?
MM: When the weather is nice, we have gone bike riding, for hikes and just toss the ball outside.  When we are in, we bake or make popcorn to watch a movie we all love. We have also FaceTimed and Zoomed with family and friends and have celebrated Zoom birthdays.


Lauren Decker, Summit
Mom to Eva, 7, and Nate, 4
Co-Founder, The Co-Co

Lauren Decker

NJF: What’s been the silver lining for you and your family through this period? 
LD: Without birthday parties, sports, activities, social and work events to attend, we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy unrushed family downtime.

NJF: What has been a sanity saver for you and the kids on work from home/school from home days?
LD:
I won’t say we’ve established a full schedule, but we’ve established a family rhythm.  Knowing when everyone needs a break has been key.

NJF: What have you done to make the weekend at home special and fun?
LD: We’ve checked out new hiking trails that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.  We’ve made special breakfasts together each morning. We’ve had a movie night with kids eating at a special little table in the living room.  We’ve had virtual zoom play dates with the kids’ friends and virtual “mystery readers” with grandparents. We’ve engaged the kids in all kinds of housework activities (from cooking and cleaning to yard work)… and we got a trampoline in the backyard.


Liz Matheis, Parsippany
Mom to Jake, 13, Abby, 11 and Ben, 7
Co-founder & Co-CEO of Psychological & Educational Consulting, LLC

Liz Matheis

NJF: What’s been the silver lining for you and your family through this period?
LM: Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, I was definitely getting to a point where I was feeling burned out. I was worried because I couldn’t figure out where and how I could take a self-care break but I felt like I needed it very, very badly. My daughter’s cheerleading season was coming to an end and my younger son’s baseball season was just about to pick up. That meant more time out of the house, little time to catch up on ‘stuff’ around the house. On top of that, I’m a #momboss with a psychology private practice and my to-do list was becoming endless. I. was. drowning.

NJF: What has been a sanity saver for you and the kids on work from home/school from home days?
LM:
Being quarantined is something we have never experienced in our lifetime (and hopefully, never will again). This is a scary time where we are all concerned about our health, our family’s health, our elderly parents and relative’s health. We are worried about our jobs, our economy, our businesses, our schools, our well-being as a society, as a nation, and as a world.

Although we don’t know when this might come to an end and when we may be able to resume our ‘usual lifestyle’ again, there are several positives that are happening. Yes, we miss our friends, but my children are playing video games and connecting with friends each day when they wouldn’t normally have that time because they would be working on homework or getting ready for their next activity. They are also engaging with friends with whom they would not usually connect, perhaps out of boredom and time, but who cares!?

NJF: What have you done to make the weekend at home special and fun?
LM: I have to admit that I am thoroughly enjoying having time to play a game with my kids (Banana-Grams is our favorite, right now!), taking a walk and having breakfast and dinner with each other daily.  This week, we even played a game of kickball after dinner.. until dark! There is also time for conversations and arguments, and when we argue, the usual scatter doesn’t happen. Instead, we are working through whatever the issue is because we have the time and the ability to follow up and follow through.

 We have time to relax, which is not a usual part of our schedule. We go, go, go until we crash and burn. We now have the time to recharge at the end of each day. My kids, my husband and I are sleeping in a little bit and we feel refreshed each morning.

 As frustrating as this time feels with becoming teachers to our children on top of being an employee or business owner, there is a silver lining to this situation. Perhaps this is the universe’s way of saying, Hey, slow down. Enjoy the moment. Cherish your relationships. Spend time with each other and take time to reflect.”  Despite the physical distance between us right now, I’m feeling connected with friends and family because I have the time to set up a virtual happy hour, and have phone conversations more frequently. Maybe it’s not all that bad!

 

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