Bedtime with my kids usually consists of my husband reading stories to our toddler while I tell my older son made-up tales about my fourth-grade nemesis. (This has been going on for years; there are subplots, cameo appearances and ongoing story lines more intense than any soap opera. It’s serious business.) But I always rush through it so I can go back to my regularly scheduled programming of working or watching TV or stressing out, and so he can get the hell to bed before 9 p.m. because he has to wake up for school.

Now, all bets are off. There is no school! There is no structure! What is morning, and what is night? Who knows!

This is all to say that he and I have been able to read together at our leisure. I don’t have a color-coded daily homeschool schedule and I don’t think COVID-19 is going to turn him into a budding homesteader-genius, but I did set one goal: We’d embark upon a good book together, something he normally wouldn’t have time for, and discuss it.


We settled on Revolutionary War classic “Johnny Tremain.” (I had a major crush on ye olde Johnny and slept with this tattered cover under my pillow when I was 10, procured at The Concord Bookshop.) We read a chapter per night, which always takes forever because he interrupts with plenty of questions (silversmith lingo is rather confusing). We’re just about at the part when Johnny injures his hand, and I’ve told him that something very bad is about to happen. He loves it when bad guys get justice and good guys come out on top, so he’s eagerly awaiting Johnny’s downfall and ultimate redemption. He stretches out on my bed in PJs like a grandpa on a cruise ship, slippers tipped upward, and away we go. This never would have happened under normal circumstances.

I asked some of you for similar bright spots. Let’s face it: This situation is terrifying, restrictive and anxiety-producing with no real end in sight, so we need to eke out solace and meaning to keep from turning into Tostitos-eating zombies.

And so, here are your positives. Revisit next time you want to hide.

“My musical 8-year-old has (rather inexplicably, but delightfully!) begun writing a Chanukah song.”

“I love seeing my kids play together. They are creative and inspirational to me at ages 2 and 4.”

“Online learning through MetroWest Jewish Day School—social engagement, academic continuity, meaning and Jewish community. Unbelievable. It’s saving us.”

“My kids are chatting daily with their cousins and so excited about it. I also bought flour to make challah, and I know we are going to have time to do it.”

“We’ve been doing family tefillah every morning: 10 minutes of a tot-style service, adding in components of adult prayer for our family (two adults and three kids). We started with a substitute Tot Shabbat service on Shabbat morning since shul was closed, and since it was a highlight, we’ve just kept going. Turns out it’s the best motivator for our 2-year-old to get dressed, since we made a rule: You have to get dressed for tefillah (the rest of the family, too).”

In our home, we always say that Shalom Bayit (a peaceful home) is the strongest resource for successful family. That’s why we chose a home on a lake, so that we’d have access to nature and the ability to greet each day with appreciation for the Creator. In a disagreement, we choose peaceful words rather than allowing offense or battle lines to be drawn. Although having a bored toddler cooped up is a challenge, we keep coming back to the fact that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and we’re lucky to have the life we do together.”

“We’ve spent so much time socializing in person and with screen-time limits that we haven’t truly invested in geographically distant, extended family relationships. Now my kids are calling cousins across the country, chatting online with aunts and uncles, truly growing these relationships more than ever.”

“I got to overhear my son’s now-virtual bar mitzvah lesson yesterday.”

“This might be a little silly, but I enjoy seeing my son play PS4 games with his Hebrew school friends. I haven’t even tried any formal Jewish learning from home, but I’m glad to see him maintaining those connections.”

“No time constraints of rushed mornings, after-school pickup rush, et cetera. It’s a slower pace, the kids have rediscovered old toys to play with and we have the feeling of community rallying together.”

“Typically, we do not completely unplug on Shabbat. During this time, we have gone on a one-hour walk as a family with no cell phones. It’s almost like our own mini Shabbat, daily.”

What are your silver linings? Let us know in the comments.