Making Lemonade Out of a Pandemic
Helping Your Kids Change Their Lives During the Lockdown
David R Smith
“Never let a crisis go to waste.”
That ominous phrase has been spoken by politicians, pastors, coaches, and plenty of others. And while the Coronavirus certainly qualifies as a crisis, we can actually use it to benefit our kids.
That is, if we’re willing to help them grow….
The old expression is true: “When you’ve got lemons, make lemonade.” Nobody likes lemons by themselves; they’re just too bitter. But almost everyone loves the sweet and refreshing taste of ice cold lemonade. To get the good stuff, you’ve got to make the most out of the bad stuff. The Coronavirus pandemic offers us that exact opportunity. We can fill the coming weeks with even more Netflix binges…or we can help our kids make some personal changes to benefit their future. If you’re interested in the latter, here are some really simple ideas.
#1: Learn to play a sport.
Literally, any sport. It doesn’t matter which one. (Seriously, anything from football to Frisbee golf!) After your kid makes a selection, have them spend some time learning the objectives and the rules of the game, along with some simple strategies for winning. Then go play (as social distancing rules allow).
No, this isn’t so your kid can win a multi-million dollar contract to the big leagues, or even a scholarship to a D1 school. It’s just a really good way to combat the rampant obesity plaguing so many young people today. According to recent postings in Pediatrics, more than 40% of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 are obese. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that 26% of kids between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight (with 15% of them landing in the obese category).
Playing a sport will encourage young people to stay active…which will have a positive impact on their overall health.
#2: Learn how to play a musical instrument.
No, the recorder from 2nd grade doesn’t count. Nor does the Kazoo.
Before dismissing this idea over fears of screeching violins in the family room or having to force kids to practice hour after hour, just know that studies by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have found that 9 in 10 kids desire to learn a musical instrument. Of course, instruments like guitar (45%), piano (36%), and drums (35%) were the most popular choices among young people.
I know the benefits of musical ability, firsthand. I learned to play guitar and piano when I was young and both are a blessing to me these days. I keep a guitar in my office and play it quite regularly for a number of reasons. In fact, I’m such a big believer in musical ability that I serve on the board of No Fret Guitar Camp, a ministry that provides totally free guitars and instruction to kids across the nation.
There are plenty of reports – like this one – that show exactly how prevalent and influential music is in the lives of young people. Kids listen to hours and hours of music each week! If they learn to play an instrument, not only can they play their favorite songs, but they can also create music of their own!
#3: Learn how to cook.
Look, you are planning to have your kids move out one day, right? If so, they’re going to need to know how to cook for themselves. No, they don’t have to become an executive chef with 14 Michelin stars in some internationally renowned French restaurant, but their lives will be far more interesting if they know how to cook more than just a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal.
Again, I look to my own life experiences to see the value in this endeavor. I was never taught to cook as a child, and not long after I got married, I tried to cook a fairly simple meal. I almost burned our house down (and I mean that in the most literal sense). We couldn’t live in the home for a few days while the smoke and mess was cleaned up. But I’m not the only one who didn’t learn to cook; tons and tons of Millennials don’t know how to cook simple dishes, either. Let’s make sure Gen Z is prepared for adulthood by helping them learn to cook.
While everyone is in quarantine, you can have fun cooking ethnic meals from other cultures. Some family friends of ours are cooking Disney movie-inspired meals during these days. There is no end to the amount of creativity you can enjoy at the dinner table! Just remember, while teaching your kids to cook, you should also try to instill in them the ability to plan meals, purchase supplies, and maintain safety/hygiene in the kitchen. All of that is a part of “cooking.”)
#4: Develop spiritual disciplines.
OK, OK. The “pastor” in me is coming out.
When I’m conducting parenting workshops around the country, moms and dads confess that “spiritual” life routinely gets pushed to the back burner so they can focus on “real” life…you know, like paying bills, getting to soccer practice on time, finishing science fair projects the night before they’re due, and the never-ending pile of laundry. But right now, life has hit the pause button in a profound way. Most of us have plenty of time on our hands. We can either squeeze in one more season of Friends…or we can begin developing a few long-lasting spiritual disciplines. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:
- Bible study. There are so many Bible reading plans and devotionals available today (and most of them are totally free.) Make time to study God’s Word together as a family.
- Prayer. Nothing goes better with Bible study than prayer. You don’t have to spend multiple hours in prayer each day like ancient monks, but it will instantly impact your family to start praying together.
- Serving. Right now, each of us could be used by God to be a blessing to those around us. Get into the habit of finding at least one simple way to serve someone around you. Trust me; it’ll add up to a lifetime of impact!
- Contentedness. What? This is a spiritual discipline? Well, according to the apostle Paul, yes. (See Philippians 4:11-12.)
There are plenty of ways you can invest the time given to us by the Coronavirus lockdown. It can be as simple as teaching kids how to tell time on an analog clock! Whatever you do, make the most of it for the sake of your kids’ future.
David R. Smith
David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.