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10 COVID-Safe Date Night Ideas for Parents and Caregivers

COVID Safe Valentines Dates The Arc Amplified 1

10 COVID-Safe Date Night Ideas for Parents and Caregivers

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Yes, it’s here again!

Like so many of you, I hoped this year would be different, that the world would be in a better place, and that we could once again safely venture out to — you know??? — enjoy the brilliant luxury of a night out. It is a wild idea in these prolonged pandemic times, I know…

And yet, as we cruise into the month of February, it appears that we will all be spending another Valentine’s Day in some degree of isolation.

Is it disappointing? Yes. Of course it is.

Should we throw our hands in the air with a “to-heck-with-Valentine’s-Day” dramatic flair?

No! Of course not.

We may just need to adapt and plan ahead, and throw a bit of creativity in there for good measure. But, as family caregivers, adaptability is already our bread-and-butter.

Spending quality time with our partners — whether we go out or stay in — is important. That is especially true for all of us parent-caregivers who struggle to find time to focus on anything but our kids.

Valentine’s Day is an excuse to focus on the special relationships in your life.

Grab on to that opportunity, people!

Here are 10 ideas for planning a COVID-safe, date night at home.

*Stay tuned for a future article featuring creative ways to find respite care for the kids*

1.  Recreate your favorite date night of the past. Do you remember the excitement of your first date? What about that honeymoon trip to Disneyland, or that weekend getaway to Vegas? Or, maybe that one, AMAZING night you once shared following an unexpected lay-over in Atlanta? Perhaps your best date ever was closer to home, where something monumental happened: a first kiss shared with the love of your life? A proposal? Whatever it is, take time to recreate the fun of that night at home. Make your own version of the meal you shared, dance to the music that played.

2.  Register for a virtual cooking class. Work together to create a meal for a dinner and movie night in your living room. There are now many opportunities to participate in virtual workshops, including cooking classes. If you happen to be a couple who would rather brunch, than dine — never fear! There are brunch-making and sweet-baking virtual classes for you too. A bit of research on trusty, old Google should do the trick!

3.  Plan a Zoom double-date with friends in a far-away place. Increased social connectivity via online platforms has proven itself to be one of the few silver-linings of the pandemic era. Take the time to reach out to friends who live in a far-off place (or even not so far away — your choice!) and schedule a Zoom date. Watch a rom-com while Zoomed together, play a couple’s game, or simply enjoy a glass of good wine, big laughs and an hour or two of reminiscing.

4.  Spend a Saturday afternoon outside together. Invest in some quality time and a healthy dose of fresh air. Make a plan to spend a Saturday together doing your favorite outdoor activity. For the runners of the world: Plan ahead to map out a new route through surrounding neighborhoods, and stop at a café for coffee or a tasty treat to refuel you along the way. If you enjoy hiking: the greater Seattle area is home to some spectacular winter hikes. (Click here for ideas!)

5.  Share a pot of your favorite hot drink and plan your summer together. Yes, it is only February. However, those with previous experience in certain activities, like yurting or attempting to snag your kid a spot at youth summer camps, know that late winter is the prime time to start making plans and booking reservations for a summer of fun. And, while it sounds simple, a cold, February evening spent cuddled up on a couch, with a hot drink in hand, dreaming of the warm, sunny months ahead, also sounds pretty dang cozy and wonderful.

6.  Sign up for a home based, ceramics class. Even some local studios and galleries now offer a virtual option! Find a fun, hands-on, art class online, or look locally. For example, Glazed & Amazed in Edmonds has Pottery To-Go Paint Kits available, which are perfect for a low-key, date night at home. If you are really itching to get out of the house in a COVID safe way, places like Salish Sea Ceramic Studio, located in downtown Everett, offer private pottery classes for two.

7.  Schedule a “Pizza & Pie” night. Have your favorite ingredients delivered to your doorstep and spend the evening throwing dough and baking pie. Make something simple (traditional pepperoni pizza and apple pie, anyone?) or venture into the more artisanal. Whatever your taste, pop on some fun tunes and spend the evening in the kitchen with your partner, dancing, laughing and creating a memorable meal.

8.  Date and Donate for Heart Month. February is recognized as American Heart Month (because #hearts), and blood supplies nationwide are currently at critical lows. What better time to schedule an appointment to donate blood! And, why not turn it into a Day-Date with your partner?! Schedule concurrent appointments at your local blood bank, or during a pop-up blood drive in your community, and grab take-out to eat at a nearby park before heading home. It’s quality time for a quality reason! (Also: Heart Month serves as an annual reminder to schedule a check-up of your own. It’s important that we take care of ourselves too! Get those wellness checks on the books.)

9.  Set up a home spa experience for two. Order all of the fancy lotions and face-masks ahead of time, lower the lights and draw a bubble bath. Splurge to pamper yourselves with the spa-day oils in aromas that you would never otherwise buy, or explore making your own products. Enjoy yourselves, even if the spa experience lasts only for the overlapping hour of the kids’ soccer practice and scout meeting. Savor those rare, quiet and calming moments together.

 

10.  Enjoy a personal chocolate-tasting together at home. Set a budget and task both partners with finding unique and flavorful chocolate bars. (Thanks to the internet and next-day shipping, no chocolate bar is out of reach!) Carve out an evening together to enjoy tasting and talking about your finds. Extend the experience by pairing your chocolates with local PNW wines. (Here are some tips from the experts to get you started!)

However you celebrate, and whenever you are able to carve out time in this hectic life we call caregiving, I hope you savor every ounce of joy the time brings you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

Snohomish Fun Run

Chase the Grinch 5K 2021 Community Inclusion Story The Arc Amplified

Family Fun in Snohomish:
Chase the Grinch Outta Snohomish Fun Run

10 year-old JoJo and 11 year-old L.J. are brothers and best friends. This active duo are both students attending their school district’s online academy. Mom, Sherri, says virtual school has allowed her sons to catch up academically and thrive. But, Mom is always looking for inclusive opportunities to provide her sons with new experiences in the community.

2021 Dec Run LJ and JoJo 3“I often check The Arc’s newsletter for things to do. In December it mentioned this run in Snohomish.” Sherri registered JoJo and L.J. for the Kids Dash at the Chase the Grinch Outta Snohomish Fun Run. It was further than the boys had ever run, but the experience paid off. The boys’ participation earned them some racer swag, including a Santa hat, bib with their registration number, finisher’s medal, and snacks. They even got a personal visit and photo-op with the Grinch!  Sherri said their family will definitely look for other local Fun Runs to participate in because “it was so fun!!”

When not racing, JoJo and L.J. are building their skills at boxing classes. Mom enjoys the boys’ boxing lessons because it gives her a little respite and creates time for her to work out at the boxing studio’s onsite gym.

The Arc of Snohomish County’s Recreation Guide, Facebook page, and Arc Happenings emails are great resources for connecting with things to do.

Or contact The Arc’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Teri McKeehan at Teri@arcsno.org or 425-258-2459 x108 to help your family connect with inclusive recreational opportunities near you.

Don’t hesitate to try something new; you may discover a new hobby or hidden talent!

*****

~Submitted by Alaina Kube, Parent to Parent Coordinator

A Self-Care Support Group for Parents & Family Caregivers

Caregiver Connections January Followup The Arc Amplified

Caregiver Connections:

A Self-Care Support Group for Parents & Family Caregivers — January 2022

On Tuesday, January 18th, The Arc of Snohomish County launched a new support group for parents and family caregivers of children with developmental disabilities and complex medical needs.

It is a “self-care focused” support group for caregivers, which will be held every 3rd Tuesday of the month, from 7 PM to 8 PM, via Zoom.

Each month, a new self-care strategy for caregivers will be introduced. These self-care practices will align with a monthly theme. These practices will vary widely as one of the primary goals of the Caregiver Connections group is to support parents and family caregivers in identifying beneficial self-care practices. What works well for one person will not work for everyone, so, in self-care as in life, we strive to maintain an open mind and try new things.

Following the initial portion of each meeting focused on learning and self-care, the group will then transition into an open discussion about self-care, current stressors and other challenges facing caregivers.

The topic of the “Caregiver Connections” January kick-off meeting was: A New Year’s RESET. The meeting provided a time for discussion on resetting our caregiver minds, our goals and our priorities, in order to step forward, refreshed and with renewed hope, into the year ahead.

The self-care strategy introduced at this meeting was “The Power of Personal Mantras.” A mantra is a positive, affirming statement that, when repeated frequently, can serve to inspire, encourage and guide behaviors and actions in a way desired by the individual. Research shows that Mantra Meditation may support family caregivers through stress reduction. It can also serve as a continuing source of positive thought and motivation. This is based on the idea that “words have power.”

At the January “Caregiver Connections” meeting, the group learned how mantras can be found or created. (Click here to learn how you can create your own personal mantra.)

Self-care focused mantras for family caregivers may include:

  • My personal needs and goals are a priority.
  • I will show up for myself no matter what the day brings.
  • My health is important and impacts everything else.
  • I am the best parent and caregiver when I take care of myself.
  • I will move more and make things happen today.

Discussion on the topic of “self-care” and “resetting” our mental focus for the New Year can center on questions such as:

  • What are you doing this month to reset your energy and center yourself for the year ahead?
  • What caregiving goals do you have for 2022?
  • How will you prioritize your needs, in balance with other caregiving responsibilities?

Before closing the meeting, information about a second, “take-home” self-care strategy was offered: New Year Vision Boards.

Vision Boards are a flexible tool that serve as a visual reminder of the goals and desires of the individual who created the board. They are an excellent project to develop at the beginning of each year to capture your goals and hopes for the next twelve months. Vision boards can be created by hand, using various art supplies, printed clipart or collage materials from magazines; or, with the assistance of “Vision Board” apps. (Click here to learn more about the benefits of vision boards.)

The next “Caregiver Connections” meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 15th, at 7 PM. The topic is: Reclaiming Control of Your Story. REGISTER HERE to join other parents and family caregivers for a discussion on how to take back control of your schedule, your goals and your personal needs. Contact Whitney Stohr at whitney@arcsno.org if you have questions about this program.

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

Easy, Everyday Strategies for Physical Fitness

39. Resolutions for the Busy Caregiver Easy Fitness

New Year Resolutions for the Busy Parent-Caregiver:

Easy, Everyday Strategies for Physical Fitness

Aw, yes, the often dreaded, sometimes cringe-worthy, “I will finally get into shape this year” New Year’s Resolution.

We all know it well. We may have made that resolution for ourselves at some point throughout the years.

I have.

In fact, I make some version of that resolution every year.

My inner dialogue is constantly reviewing that long list of tasks I really need to accomplish in order to take better care of my personal health and wellbeing. It’s long and, admittedly, checking-off tasks on that list is slow work because… well, I am a caregiver.

You may be too.

And, if you are a caregiver, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

And yet, we still make those health resolutions…

AND, we absolutely SHOULD make those health resolutions. KEEP MAKING THOSE RESOLUTIONS!

Do whatever it is you need to do to take care of your own health. Being a caregiver cannot be an excuse to ignore your own health needs. (That is a personal mantra I repeat to myself every day.)

Will we get into such amazing shape this year that we decide to register for next year’s marathon circuit? Let’s be honest. The answer to that question is a solid “Probably not,” bordering on “No way! Not in a million years.”

(If you do: Seriously – I will be your biggest fan-girl! Please send pictures!)

BUT, can you incorporate a few new activities into your daily routine that promote activity, movement and personal wellbeing? Absolutely! That is an entirely achievable resolution.

Here are some ideas for the busy parent-caregiver:

1.  Play Music During Household Chores: Housework is constant! As parents and caregivers, we have already integrated household chores into our daily routines. So, make the decision to maximize your time and energy by turning housework into up-beat movement. Turn up the tunes and dance your way through chores. Shake it while you wash the dishes. Salsa while folding laundry. Give your best two-step with a broom as your partner. (Try THIS playlist of “Housework Hits!”)

2.  Stretch During Cartoons: A cartoon or movie break for the kids is also a slow-down opportunity for parents and caregivers. Cartoon time is a time for caregivers to. Get. Work. Done! Take advantage of those daily cartoons for a 5-minute stretch break. Take deep, slow breaths and focus on each stretch. (Try these!) The simple practice of daily stretching is fantastic for both mind and body.

3.  Plan a Daily 2-Song Dance Break: Include the kids! Set a “dance party” alarm on your phone and turn the songs up when you hear the tone. Get your groove thing on and have fun. Even in short intervals, dancing offers many health benefits. It is also fun and can be re-energizing for caregivers in need of a mid-afternoon boost. Start with a dance party that lasts for two songs. Commit to a daily “dance it out” time. (Try THIS “Family Dance Party” playlist, or THIS playlist for all my fellow Millennial parents out there.)

4.  Take a Brisk, 20-Minute Walk: If you have a schedule that allows for a consistent break in caregiving duties, getting into the habit of walking is a great way to improve your physical health, clear your mind and reset your energy for the day. Start slow, but commit yourself to getting outdoors every day.

5.  Get Pumped with a 10-Minute Power Sesh: Find yourself a pair of light hand-weights — maybe 8 or 10 pounds — and carve out a 10-minute time in your day when you can focus on simple repetitions. (Click here for a list of easy exercises.) Maybe this is 10 minutes every day before you shower, or before you make lunch for the kids, or right after you drop them off at school… Whatever works best for your schedule, block off those 10 minutes for yourself.

Perhaps some of these ideas will resonate with you. Others may not. Maybe you have a few simple strategies of your own that have sat on your “Personal Health To-Do List” for months and months. Whatever strategies you choose — Make 2022 the year that your daily, caregiving routine also prioritizes your personal care needs.

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

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