As the days grow shorter and we creep toward autumn, parents eagerly look forward to the time-honored tradition of sending their kids back to school. With kids finally out of the house and accounted for, maybe there’s even a little bit more time to linger over that last cup of coffee in the morning. Unless you’re in the midst of a global pandemic. In which case the longest commute your child will most likely have this fall is downstairs to the breakfast table. Yes, parents, students, and educators find themselves in the midst of remote learning once again. It’s Zoom calls galore, at-home work sheets, projects and three-square meals a day all in the confines of your home. So, in an effort to mitigate some of the stress this scenario will undoubtedly bring, we’ve put together a list of things to make your house more conducive to at-home learning.
Before even determining the space you or your kids will use, make sure everyone has a clear idea of their daily schedules and routines. Everyone should get up and get ready as if they were leaving the house and know what each hour will bring. Something as inexpensive as a dry erase wall calendar from Target can do the trick. Additionally, desk organizers or files can go a long way in keeping students motivated and on task.
Create Usable Space
Your pre-pandemic home improvement punch list probably looked a bit different than it does today. Perhaps you dreamt of a bathroom rehab or kitchen facelift. But with everyone tripping over each other, functional space is at a premium. Fixing up lower levels, spare bedrooms and sunrooms has become essential. And while rehabbing an unfinished attic or basement might be a little more costly and time consuming, it can ultimately provide more sharable space while adding long-term resale value to your home. If you’re not up for a major overhaul, small enhancements can do the trick. Bookshelves can offer more space for storage while also dividing up a room. Wayfair offers several affordable options.
Let There Be Light!
Are you adequately using the natural light in your home for yourself and your newly minted e-scholars? Are bedroom desks placed near windows? Are shades lifted during daylight hours? Maybe you have some heavy drapes that are blocking natural rays and confining space. Smith and Noble can offer a quick fix for custom window treatments, allowing you to spruce up your space while getting a little more vitamin D as the days grow shorter and kids are outside less.
Call The Help Desk
The one thing you’ll be most dependent on in your new role as proctor is, without a doubt, technology. Make sure your router is up to date and you’re getting the best service and deal from your internet provider. There are a bevy of plans and packages, so do your research. If you have internet dead spots in your home, look into internet boosters that plug in to electrical outlets and improve signal strength. Also consider noise cancelling headphones for Zoom calls or to block out ambient noise (Might we suggest getting yourself a pair as well?).
This may seem basic, but you’ll probably find the need to stock your fridge and pantry a little more generously than you would during a ‘normal’ school year. Keep healthy snacks that are easy to reach at eye level – string cheese, yogurt, individually packaged Goldfish. A lovely bowl of fresh fruit is a welcome addition to any kitchen countertop and allows kids to easily choose a healthy pick-me-up.
Although the 2020-2021 school year is shaping up to be rather unconventional, the kids are alright. Patience and humor can go a long way to maintaining your sanity. And once those classroom doors do open back up and your schoolhouse is vacated, pour that extra cup of coffee, put on the noise cancelling headphones, close those window treatments and dance like no one is watching. Because finally, they won’t be.
Coronavirus has undoubtedly had a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. It has affected everything from how kids are learning to how we do our jobs and complete once-basic tasks like grocery shopping. We’ve put a lot on hold, but there are some things that absolutely cannot wait. So, what do you do if you have to move during the pandemic?
We’ve outlined all of the steps you need to take to make your move as safe as possible.
Purchase New Packing Supplies
According to USA Today, coronavirus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard, so play it safe by ordering new boxes and supplies from Home Depot or U-Haul. UBoxes.com even helps you build your own moving kit, which comes with various box sizes, heavy duty tape, bubble wrap, and textile blankets, among other necessary supplies. You can also rely on suitcases, laundry baskets, and reusable grocery bags to transport your belongings.
When it came to moving before the pandemic, you could easily tempt friends to help you pack and schlep boxes with the promise of pizza and drinks. Nowadays, it’s important that you tackle your move with as few people possible to avoid unnecessary contact with each other and your belongings. Try to pack and move as much of your stuff on your own, saving the largest and heaviest items for movers. And if you are moving to or from a multi-unit residential building, ask building management about their policy on reserving elevators so that you can limit contact with neighbors.
Check In With Movers
Movers are considered essential, so should you need them, check on your chosen business’ current operating procedures. Ask them if they are sanitizing their truck(s) before and after moves and inquire about any additional safety precautions employees are taking, such as wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to slow the spread of the virus.
If you have to be physically present for the move and are not able to supervise via video chat, make sure you maintain six feet between each other. You can also minimize contact by turning on lights and opening all doors, cabinets, and gates ahead of time.
Put Boxes and Packed Belongings In One Area
Limit the contact movers have with your home by placing all of your packed items and smaller furniture in a low traffic room or garage. This will keep any potential germs confined to one area of the home, making it safer and easier to clean and disinfect. If your movers must go into other rooms to pick up larger objects, be sure to clean those areas before and after they enter.
Get Your Sanitizing Materials Ready
When move-in day has arrived, you should be armed with sanitizing materials and enough personal protective equipment for everyone involved. Have hand soap stocked at both locations and hand sanitizer for any contact that’s made along the way. Disinfectant should be used to lightly spray boxes before and after the move as well as any objects (car doors, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and light switches) or surfaces (counter tops, toilets, faucets, and sinks) that are touched.
Deep Clean Your New Digs
Before you move your belongings into your new home, be sure to deep clean every room. The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves while you clean, throwing them out after each use and washing your hands immediately after the gloves are removed. If you are not able to find or purchase household disinfecting sprays and wipes at the store, you can make your own using bleach and water.
Wait To Unpack
Just as you put your items in one low traffic area when you moved out, you’ll want your movers to take a similar approach when you move in. Confine items to the garage or one room of your home and then be sure to disinfect and wipe everything down. You are advised to wait at least 24 hours to open the boxes, so pack an overnight bag with your essentials separately!
Chicago goes through a sort of metamorphosis as winter takes a firm grip over the city, bringing cold weather and incredibly short days. But don’t feel bad making runs to the local convenience store in sweatpants and slippers — during the coldest winter days, it takes a lot of motivation and sheer willpower just to leave the house. When not hibernating, Chicago residents can be seen digging their vehicles out from snow drifts and ice, meeting up at corner bars, or even jumping into a frozen Lake Michigan.
With winter officially here, we thought it was only fitting to highlight a few noteworthy Chicago traditions that mark the season. Keep reading and let us know your favorite winter traditions in the comments.
Try to picture hundreds of people clad only in bathing suits running and fully submerging themselves into a frigid Lake Michigan during the coldest period in Chicago. Sound like fun? That’s basically what the Polar Plunge is. Each year towards the end of winter, the event takes place to great fanfare — even sometimes featuring surprise celebrity guests (think Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga). And it’s all for a good cause, as proceeds from participant entry dues and their funds raised go to support Special Olympics Chicago.
There’s no local tradition more polarizing than parking dibs. For the uninitiated, the idea is simple: residents claim, or call “dibs” on a street parking space for a few days to upwards of a week (or sometimes longer) after clearing that spot out after a heavy snowfall. When not parked in that space, the dibs participant will place a chair, a traffic cone, or some other item in the spot to signal to others that it has been claimed. Let’s just say some people get particularly creative with the items they use to claim their territory.
One of the greatest things about the holiday season is the wonderment of lighting displays throughout the city’s neighborhoods and cultural attractions. In particular, the ZooLights installation at the Lincoln Park Zoo is a dazzling experience that excites the senses for people of all ages. For over 25 years, the recurring event has been free to the public, showcasing 2.5 million lights throughout the zoo.
Getting into a neighborly spirit
While the jury may be perpetually out on parking dibs, one theme that can be identified as a positive force is that of neighborly camaraderie and unity during cold snaps. We look out for each other during storms and dreaded polar vortex periods. Checking in on neighbors, helping shovel neighbor’s sidewalks, and generally being affable and available towards friends and neighbors is something Chicagoans do. It’s not only a point of pride, but one more reason why Chicago is a great place to call home.