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Monday, May 18, 2020

Covid Creativity


Moms battle COVID-19 boredom by engaging their kids in creative activities.

Rachel Penwell, aka “Mom,” and hubby Kevin have kept their kids – and themselves – occupied. They’ve enjoyed an outdoor movie night, a birthday parade and a Virtual Field Day for school.

Louisiana families have been spending a lot of time together during the past two months, and parents have rolled with multiple changes in their personal and professional lives.

How have families worked this temporary “normal” into their lives? And how do some unwind or find ways to enjoy quiet time when homes are bustling all day and being alone is rare? Several area moms have found their own ways to handle all of the new and old responsibilities and find time for self-care.

In addition to writing for 318 Forum, Betsy St. Amant Haddox works full-time from home and writes novels. She is on an October deadline for her next book and has another novel, “The Key To Love,” releasing in October. She has been stepping away from the computer for sanity breaks to grab a snack, read or sit on the porch to get some fresh air.

Her husband, Topher, is also working from home, and the couple have two daughters. She says the family has been working to carve out “quality time” amid all the togetherness.

A favorite quarantine outing has been family trips to the carwash. “We’ll go drive through the carwash, and it’s literally the best thing ever,” she said. Swimming, working in the yard and experimenting with gardening have been good outlets for the entire family. St. Amant Haddox says she and her husband are also re-bingeing “The Office.” “Our date nights while we are home with the kids, literally are wine and 10 episodes of ‘The Office.’ We’re super happy with that.”

Virtual Camp Gladiator workouts have been an outlet for Rachel Penwell. “I have been on there every morning. It’s a way I can have ‘me’ time,” she said. With workouts being virtual, she has worked out with trainers in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Colorado.

She and a neighbor have put together fun theme nights for their children that include movie nights and playing nighttime hide-andseek. “It reminds when of when I was a kid, and you could be outside and hang out. Our kids don’t really know that anymore because of all the technology and their activities,” she said.

Husband Kevin has been working one week on and one week off, so the family has enjoyed having him home during the day.

They have participated in birthday parades and go on long walks together. “One day, we walked nine miles. Who does that?” she laughed. “I just don’t want to sit in the house.”

Penwell also goes to work a few hours a week to put together materials for Broadmoor Baptist Church’s B Group. “I’m working on that because we’re putting that on our Facebook pages for parents to teach their kids their Sunday School lesson.”

Learning new languages is something Kelly Powell has always enjoyed. She has restarted her study of Irish and is trying her hand at another language. “A friend of mine is Vietnamese, and I decided, during quarantine, I would try to learn some Vietnamese – which is not going very well, honestly, but I still enjoy trying,” she laughed.

Powell says she has powered through her “mom guilt” to claim crucial alone time. Listening to her air pods, sewing, painting, drawing and journaling have been helpful. “[Journaling] is a big one ... it’s really, really good for my mood,” she said. “It really started to help me be in a more positive mindset.”

Jigsaw puzzles have been an outlet for the entire family, and husband Blake, who is a local actor and director, has been working on some voices. “The one he’s been trying to do is Bender from ‘Futurama,’ which is very hard to do. It’s been pretty fun to listen to Blake do his different voices. He learned Sir Ian McKellen and Peter Dinklage, and he does an excellent Winnie the Pooh,” she said.

She says the family is also fortunate to live near both sets of grandparents. “The other day we went by, and the kids played in the front yard, while my parents just sat on their front porch and watched them,” she said.

The Social Media Lady owner, Haley Reggio, runs her company from a separate studio building at her home. The studio has morphed into a work and learning space for her family. “Typically, my studio is my escape. I have found as they go over to the studio – [fiancé] Brandon goes over to work and the kids over to do their school stuff – I stay over at the house, where it’s quiet,” she said.

Physical activity is a vital part of each day. Reggio started practicing yoga several years ago and has added it to her sons’ morning routine. Evenings consist of walks. “Then we go jump in the pool afterward. Keeping everybody active is a big part of trying to keep sanity around here.”

She set up a schedule for her two sons that includes blocks of time for yoga, math, reading and time to run off energy outside. She even had them learning to type. Both boys were also set up with a book series to read, and they have been watching educational documentaries. “I have them watching a bunch of documentaries that I love – about bees, about geography – anything,” she said.

The board games Risk and Monopoly have been another addition to family life. Reggio says she has learned a lot about her sons’ personalities this way. “Board games and getting to know the kids more has been a lot of fun,” she said.

Betsy St. Amant Haddox is a novelist and contributor to 318 Forum who works full-time from home. Along with her husband, Topher, also working from home, she has carved out “quality time” for togetherness for the family as well as date night for the two of them.

Rachel Penwell, aka “Mom,” and hubby Kevin have kept their kids – and themselves – occupied. They’ve enjoyed an outdoor movie night, a birthday parade and a Virtual Field Day for school.

Super-mom Hailey Reggio has kept her sons engaged in blocks of time for yoga, math, reading and time to run off energy outside. Board games like Risk and Monopoly have been fun for the whole family.


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