Of course there’s no magic button any of us can push to make this insanity go away. And yet, we are so incredibly fortunate to live in a world where we can – somewhat magically, if we pause to reflect on a life without current technology – push a button and have things arrive at our doorstep. Imagine COVID-19 without the internet? I can’t.
There is so much privilege right now in being able to work from home. And in being able to afford to order things. And hard is hard for all of us. (I just urge you to consider, if you’re in a position to order things to your door, how you can also help those who may not have those resources.)
But if you are able to afford it, what exactly can we have delivered to our doorstep to make life a little bit easier? In addition to my own experiences, I queried my Mindful Return alums. If you’ve already worked your way through all your closets and drawers and are fresh out of new ideas, here are a few (24 to be exact) to help you through.
What Can We Order to Help with Our Remote Work?
Let’s start with our working worlds. Our kids do seem to demand every ounce of our attention these days. So, for one blissful moment, let’s put our careers first. Go!
Wi-Fi Extenders: Are there patches of your living space that don’t get a solid Wi-Fi signal? Perhaps you’d like to work out on your back porch, but the Wi-Fi doesn’t reach? Or maybe you’ve got too many devices running at once? These eeros mesh Wi-Fi extenders have completely saved us.
LED Ring Light: Having trouble with that Zoom meeting lighting? My office is in the attic, and the overhead lights shine directly into the computer camera, so I need to turn them off. This leaves me in relative darkness. I just ordered one of these at the recommendation of a Mindful Return alum, who said it revolutionized the lighting in her work space.
Standing Mat: I’ve heard lots of cheers lately for these mats, to help with standing while working. Here’s a recommendation for a flat one, and another for a contoured one. I’m told these are particularly helpful for anyone with back problems.
Portable Speaker: Right before the crisis hit, my husband’s internal speaker in his laptop starting acting wonky. This Jabra Wireless Bluetooth Speaker has been a lifesaver for him. Not cheap. But such amazingly high quality.
What Can We Order to Entertain Our Kids?
Okay, blissful career moment over. Sigh. On to our small people. I recognize that so many of these suggestions are age-specific. So just scroll through for things that might work for the age and stage of the kiddos you have at home.
Latch Hook: A blast from the past, perhaps, but still enticing! Inspired by a 1980’s episode of Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood, my 9-year old got really into latch hook a few weeks ago. He first did this baseball, and is now in the middle of creating this soccer ball. (Probably good for ages 7+, but I’m just guessing.)
Sculpey: A friend tipped us off to this amazing clay a few weeks ago, and my boys are now hooked. You sculpt with it and then bake it. Great for homemade presents from kiddos. (Yes, my birthday is this coming week, and I know what I’m getting from my boys!) (Ages 3+)
Mead Workbooks: One of the Mindful Return alums has been “really pleased with the appropriate level of complexity and ease of the exercises” for her 3 ½ year old in this Mead Success in Preschool Workbook. (For the Pre-K crowd.)
Laminating Machine: We got a few votes for laminating machines like this one. Kids love making labels with them, and they can be helpful in teaching kids how to organize. (Adult supervision required.)
Mini Trampoline: Crummy weather (or no outdoor space) but still need to get wiggles out? A mini-trampoline is a great option. These can go indoors or outdoors and don’t take up much room.
Picasso Tiles: Did you avoid buying Magna-Tiles because your daycare already had them and they’re crazy expensive? I’m told these Picasso Tiles are just as good and at a fraction of the cost. Truly keeps kids busy for hours. (“Not a day has gone by without my kids playing in them,” noted one mama.)
Butcher Paper: Want to turn your dining room table into Macaroni Grill? Put some of this brown butcher paper down and pull out the crayons! Also great if you’re trying to keep those messy art projects from getting all over the place.
Wobble Stool: We asked our youngest son (now age 7) what was better and what was worse about having school at home. His answer to “worse” was having to sit in uncomfortable dining room chairs to do his work. He said he missed his “wobble chair” from school, which he said he used “to get my wiggles out while I work.” Turns out this Hokki wobble stool is the same kind he had in his classroom, so we ordered it immediately.
Bouncy House: Yep. Once the domain of birthday party rentals, this Blast Zone bounce house is now a staple in many families’ yards. Prices have definitely gone up since COVID-19 struck, but I’m told they guarantee hours and hours of fun.
What Can We Order to Save Our Own Sanity?
With regrets for the short list here, I’m going to go with “you know yourself best.” Think about what would make you most happy right now. Then order something that resembles some tiny fraction of that thing.
Gratitude Journal: The tool that is probably the most responsible for my own sanity over the past few years has been The Five Minute Journal. There are 6 months’ worth of pages in here, and they don’t put dates on the pages, thus alleviating any guilt of missing a day or two. The journaling prompts literally only take 5 minutes a day, and they re-orient my brain in a more positive directly. (I wrote more about making time to journal here.)
Live in the DC Area? Some Local Food-Based Suggestions
A DC-area mama also offered up ideas for local food delivery that she’s been happy with:
Souper Girl: Support a woman-owned business and get some healthy and delicious soups and sandwiches. Use coupon code COMMUNITY15 for 15% off. You can also donate meals through the site to front line healthcare workers.
Seasonal Roots: Like a CSA, they “support local family farmers and artisans who use sustainable practices.” Pro tip: they’re only taking new customers on Mondays. Use code EATLOCAL247 to save on membership. You can order weekly or bi-weekly and customize your own delivered basket.
What would you add to this list? Please share your ideas in comments below!
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave