Convinced you suck at corona-parenting? You’re not alone.

Mar 30, 2020 | Parents' Guide to Safe Climates (During Corona)

Greetings friends!

How’s that social distancing, working from home AND homeschooling going? Convinced you suck at it? You’re not alone. This preview from my Parents’ Guide to Safe Climates (During Corona):100 Ways to Engage & Empower Kids, Protect the Future — And Not Lose Your Mind list can help!

By “Safe Climates,” I mean that every climate we inhabit — from womb to home to the global climate we share — needs safeguarding, now more than ever.  The free list will help you:

* Create a safe & harmonious home climate while social distancing
* Maintain a healthy internal climate (body and mind)
* Educate and empower your household to demand a safe climate (more on this as we approach Earth Day, April 22)

Many of us feel anxious, trapped — and enraged by Tr*mp. These tips help with the first two feelings. My next newsletter focuses on creative ways folks are organizing from home to fire the madman.

I invite your tips and questions. What’s working? What’s driving you crazy? Write me at
Please subscribe to my email newsletters so you receive the full 100 list soon (ideas are based on my book The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution)!
With love, determination & chapped hands –


1) Lower your parenting bar

  • My sister once told me, “If your kids are alive at the end of the day, you’re doing fine.”

2) Breathe

  • Practice taking 3 deep breaths whenever you’re anxious or losing your cool. It’ll really relax your overall nervous system. Teach kids to do this.

3) Get support

  • Find a “whine buddy” and take turns listening to each other; Join the Facebook support group Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic; Try online yoga, exercise, or meditation (Yoga with Adrienne is free, or your local studio might offer donation-based or free Zoom classes); Consider giving room and board to a cash-strapped college student in trade for 10-12 hours a week of child care (this kept me sane).

4) Listen to and validate kids’ feelings

  • Everything just changed for kids. Ask how they’re doing. Don’t judge their feelings or try to fix anything; just give loving attention so they feel safe to express themselves. Or post a feelings chart. Try family meetings to check in or solve problems together.

5) Exude Gratitude 

  • My family’s corona communication board has columns for requests and cool things to do together — and one just for us to praise each other.

corona covid white board family communication mary democker parenting

6) Encourage indoor creative play

  • with masks, capes, play swords, pillow and fabric forts, kazoos, ukuleles, penny whistles, slide whistles, magic trick books and supplies.

7) Play Games

  • With nothing special: Salad Bowl (our all-time fave); In the Manner of the Adverb; Charades;
  • with Regular Cards: Rummy 500, Go Fish, Capitalism, BS, 2s & 5s, Hearts
  • With specialty games: UNO; Slamwich; Rat-a-Tat-Cat; Trigger; Spot-it; Catan; Pictionary; Balderdash, Catch Phrase; BattleShip; Codenames; Connect 4; Stratego; Mancala; Checkers; chess; backgammon

8) Try bibliotherapy

reading a book family unplug mary democker

9) Get everyone moving inside – without special equipment

  • Indoor obstacle courses (simple ones work, too); Toilet Paper Boots (see top photo: Make hole in top of a multi-pack of TP, slip kid feet between top TP rolls, add music); Wear Your Closet: Kids don several layers of clothing and dance, or run a simple obstacle course; King of the Bed: Kids battle to push one another off of parents’ bed; Dish Towel Tag: Snap teens with a cloth napkin or dish towel without actually hurting them (warning: quickly becomes an indoor chase); Indoor flashlight tag (leader has flashlight; others hide and try to tag leader before getting tagged themselves by the light).
  • If you can acquire some equipment, try: Indoor basketball, Velcro darts, Nerf gun wars, Ping pong on the dining table, hacky sacks, juggling balls

10) Kick Out the (Corona) Blues

11) Acquire (order or borrow, then appropriately quarantine) these tools for outdoor play:

  • Jump ropes; coffee-can and string (to make “stilts”); shovels, buckets, and a hose for outdoor free play; balls of all shapes and sizes; badminton – our kids loved this  (can substitute rope for net); basketball hoop tacked to outdoor wall; Frisbees; hacky sacks; slacklines; dartboards; bows and arrows (cardboard boxes or hay bales as targets) 

12) Try these games for outdoor recess with other kids with Social Distancing (SD)

  • Hopscotch; Obstacle courses on foot or bike; Red Light, Green Light; Potato Sack Race (with SD variations: Place start / end points 6+ feet apart; have kids cross a personal line or base instead of tagging anyone); Skipping stone contests; Throw-the-rock-the-farthest-out-in-the-water contest.

13) Put a teddy bear in your window

  • Find out if your community is participating in “Going for a Bear Hunt” –  kids walking through town, spotting teddy bears in windows. Or, help kids initiate the game in your neighborhood.

14) Put a climate strike sign in your window

  • Help kids partake in FridaysForFuture. Make and display strike signs, then share photos of them on social media  (#DigitalStrike #climatestrike  #fridaysforfuture #ClimateHowl #Silentstrike)


Student on climate strike from his home in India


15) Help kids connect with older, ill, lonely, or grieving relatives

  • Deliver groceries or medicine; do yard work; check in by phone or through a window or from the porch; Have kids draw or write “3 things I love about you” letters to photograph and send electronically. 

16) Help kids connect with neighbors

  • Have them post colorful signs in an apartment building hallway offering help to those in need, or just post drawings and messages to cheer up neighbors during this shared crisis.

17) Challenge kids to cut food waste

  • Americans waste 40% of our food, which hurts our wallets– and the earth. Those misleading “Eat by” date stamps on food are the main culprit. With kids, learn how to know what’s safe to eat when. 
    Challenge kids to make meals from what’s on hand.

18) Encourage kids to attend Sunrise School

  • Climate activists are “seizing this moment to become the leaders we need.” Build connections, learn how to confront the crises gripping society, and “take action online and with small groups of others in your area while social distancing”

19) Talk about how “Everything is connected to everything else”

  • My son’s 5th grade teacher taught this concept. Talk with kids about what’s happening in the world, how it impacts their family & friends, local businesses, civil rights, the 2020 election, our environment. Discuss how the EPA’s not enforcing laws now. Help kids find reliable information (more on that soon). Listen to their opinions, ideas, solutions.

20) Love up health care workers – and get them PPEs

  • Put kid-made “thank you” signs in your window, in chalk messages on sidewalks, or online. Learn here how to make or donate personal protective equipment (PPE), drive supplies to support front line workers, or spread the word about PPE campaigns near you.

Stay well!


Connect with Mary on social media: