Coronavirus has arrived. Now what.

With today’s announcement that schools will be closing in our area, you may wonder what your life will look like for the foreseeable future. The following is some straight-talk for families to help you prepare for what is to come:

1. Things will change.

The worldwide community is facing a crisis bigger than we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. Life for the next few months will take on a new normal. You will not work, not be “productive.” You will not travel or attend entertainment events. You are working a new job: to keep yourself and loved ones healthy so that we may care for each other when we fall ill.

2. It will take months to return to normal.

This will not be a sprint. It will be a marathon. Best case scenario, it will pass us in a matter of months, but we could be facing the repercussions for at least a year. This means that we need to find a new routine which is sustainable.

3. You are the leader of your family – so get your head on straight.

It is normal to be afraid or lose sleep, to be skeptical of the news, to feel annoyed or angry at the loss of your accustomed schedule, etc. Make space for yourself to feel these things and express them openly and honestly – you have a right to feel them. Call your family and friends often for support. Don’t read the news every minute, take breaks to think about other things. Exercise daily, even if the kids are home. Count your blessings that you are surrounded by loved ones.

4. Create your children’s environment.

Your children rely on you to set the tone of their lives for this event. They will follow your anxiety or your dismissal of danger or your modeling of faith in humanity or science or God, or any combination of the above. Speak to them about what is going on (a guide for this is coming shortly), and show them with your behavior how to adjust your life to a new routine. Not only do they have to get through the coming months, but they will remember this period for the rest of their lives. It is an opportunity to teach what really matters: how to be flexible, self-reliant, resilient, and a good citizen of the world.

5. Balance fear and realism.

The fact is that things are scary right now. There is much unknown, and the virus could potentially be a disaster of unimaginable proportions. But we have seen that it is within our power to protect each other. In South Korea, for example, the initial spike of cases that temporarily overwhelmed the healthcare system has slowed to a more manageable pace because people are observing the directives to separate, and not gather. This means people who need treatment can access it, and the death rate is much lower. It is encouraging to know that this uncomfortable period in our lives does actually work to protect the ones we love.

In this fight, we have been drafted against our will, but we will rise to the occasion and care for one another, and get through this together.

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