The Benefits of Letting Your Kids Do Nothing During Quarantine, from an Early Childhood Education Professor

My kids are older, so my struggle is having them do “nothing” instead of being on technology. I hope you have better success that I do in encouraging your kids to be okay with being bored!

I have given a lot of advice to parents during my career as a New York City classroom teacher and professor of early childhood education. About five days into the COVID-19 quarantine, I found myself answering work emails with one hand, holding a baby with the other and pointing to a map with my toe while trying to teach my other child geography. It was a defining moment for me as I understood how exhausting, unsustainable and unhealthy it was for everyone involved. I realized more parents needed real-world advice that was also research-proven and practical. Here's mine: It’s OK to do nothing sometimes

So what does “doing nothing” mean exactly? Doing nothing is breaking away from the notion that you need to schedule every second of the day for your child. It’s healthy to have significant gaps in the day instead of moving from one lesson to another. Focus more on setting up a safe environment that promotes opportunities for exploration (without your participation) and the idea that preserving the long-term love of learning will beat filling out all those worksheets any day.

They will get bored… for now.

Yes, they will get bored. That is OK. It might be a sign of initial withdrawal from their constant need for you to provide them with something to do. Boredom is healthy and a natural transitional phase that everybody needs to experience. It’s a reality check that life will not be full of playdates and one scheduled event after another. However, if you allow these moments to play out, children will eventually look for things to do and their imaginations will ignite. Early childhood experts agree that allowing for these unscheduled/unstructured periods of time promotes creativity, imagination and independence.

Embrace multiple possibilities.

“I’m finished! What’s next?” We have all heard those words. Evaluate toys (concrete and digital) that you are providing for your children and ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Can they use these toys independently?
  • Do they require adult supervision for safety?
  • Are they within reach of the child?
  • Are there multiple ways to use these toys?

Certain toys have more possibilities and allow children to express themselves in different ways. Coloring sheets are fine, but they don’t have as many possibilities as a blank sheet of paper and crayons. Stuffed animals are cute to cuddle, but they don’t have as many possibilities as a set of blocks. Consider creating a makerspace in your home with everyday materials such as recycled food containers, newspapers, and empty toilet paper rolls. Digital learning platforms like MarcoPolo World School promote more independence and allow your child to create a learning experience that is paved more by interest and possibility.

Think long-term.

Most likely, you are not a teacher, and even if you are, teaching your child at home is very different from teaching in a school setting. Academically, what is going to make a difference in the long run, is that you preserve their love of learning. The anxiety that comes from being overscheduled and the pressure to finish every single task, may leave children associating these negative feelings with school and learning. Instead, provide them with the space and time to discover and learn about what they are interested in and love doing, and this will instead cultivate a passion for learning that is more beneficial than any worksheet at this time.

My favorites items that foster independent play and interest-led learning:

Digital: MarcoPolo World School, part of the MarcoPolo Learning platform is a STEAM and literacy digital learning platform with more than 500 premium video lessons and 3,000 interactive learning activities designed to nurture curiosity about the natural world. MarcoPolo Learning has announced free access for 30 days.

Book: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis is a book that asks children to imagine all of the playful possibilities of a simple brown box and a flexible imagination.

Toy: Magnetic tiles are full of possibilities and challenge your child to think about creating shapes, 3D structures and more. The tiles are easy to manipulate, safe for young children and the possibilities are endless!

Nermeen Dashoush, Ph.D., is a mother of two and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Boston University. Nermeen was a classroom teacher for over 10 years in New York City. Nermeen serves as a curriculum developer for MarcoPolo Learning and helped create World School, an Emmy-nominated digital learning tool for children.

Written by Nermeen Dashoush Ph.D. for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Why You Shouldn’t Stress Right Now About Stress If You’re Trying To Get Pregnant

These are stressful times. I hope that, if you are trying to get pregnant, you find this helpful. Sending love and light, Kirsten

Q: What’s more stressful than experiencing infertility?

A: Experiencing infertility during a pandemic.

It’s never a good time to be diagnosed with infertility—the inability for a woman to get pregnant for a year (if you’re under 35) or six months (if you’re over 35) or to carry a pregnancy to term. But as COVID-19 spread across the globe, many fertility clinics stopped or limited treatment, leaving those who were trying to get pregnant to forgo their dreams of becoming parents or of having another. Even as many clinics reopen and resume treatment (in full protective gear), the jury is still out on how the coronavirus impacts women who do manage to get pregnant.

Talk about stressful.

I thought infertility was stressful when I was going through four years of infertility (nine rounds of IVF and four miscarriages) before I had my daughter, but I learned some important things about stress that I hope will help moms who are trying to get pregnant now.

First, forget about the people who say, “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant.” I mean, literally forget they ever existed. Like, if that’s their starting gambit, it won’t get any prettier. They’ll regale you with stories of their best friend’s veterinarian’s aunt’s lover’s niece who had been trying forever—she did forty-five rounds of IVF! Drank witches’ blood! Took a vow of celibacy! And when she stopped everything, stopped thinking about it, lo and behold, she got pregnant.

When someone said, “just relax,” I thought: Now you’re telling me that my own stress is causing this lack of a baby? Are you saying infertility is my fault? That if I weren’t so GODDAMNED STRESSED OUT ALL THE TIME I WOULD BE @#$@# PREGNANT???? (They usually ran for the hills at that point, planning not to return till I gave birth.)

Listen: When I was interminably single, people kept telling me to “stop focusing on finding the one and it’ll happen…” You know what happened when I stopped focusing on dating? I got off all the dating websites, hung out with my girlfriends, read lots of books and grew cobwebs down there. It was only when I decided to leave Los Angeles and move to New York to find a husband that I met mine.

So I don’t buy that simply “not focusing” on conceiving is the magic pill.

Still, I want to investigate the science behind stress and its relationship to infertility.

“The relationship between stress and infertility has been debated for years,” begins a study in Clinical Neuroscience. “Women with infertility report elevated levels of anxiety and depression, so it is clear that infertility causes stress.” DUH. The study goes on to say that women who struggle to conceive are twice as likely to suffer from emotional distress than fertile women.

“What is less clear, however, is whether or not stress causes infertility,” the authors note, saying it’s impossible to prove the causality because it’s based on people self-reporting, and also because people feel really optimistic at the start (as you should!). So is the stress causing the infertility or is the infertility—and its failure—causing people to feel disappointed… and stressed?

Some studies show a physiological relationship between stress and time to pregnancy, and one study notes that “interventions to reduce cortisol prior to commencing IVF could improve treatment outcomes.”

“You need a healthy body and a healthy mind,” says Dr. Amy Beckley, creator of the at-home progesterone test Proov. “Our cortisol steals from our reproductive system, so if you’re too stressed, your body says, ‘We do not believe you can carry a child to term,’ and turns the needed progesterone into cortisol, a stress hormone.” She hates when doctors say, “Just don’t think about it.” She says, “You have to take actions to manage your stress.”

But can we really moderate our stress levels?

I spoke to Tamar Ben-Shaanan, a microbiologist and immunologist studying mice with tumors. In a study published in Nature, Ben-Shaanan and her colleagues found that “activating the reward center” in the mouse’s brain reduced the tumor, and concluded that “a patient’s psychological state can impact anti-tumor immunity and cancer progression.” Some recurrent loss specialists concluded that this would be a good line of treatment for people who fail IVF cycles: “It may be a great first step in a new protocol for IVF patients to focus on creating an environment that would lead to activation of this reward system,” they write, encouraging patients to do “activities that create enjoyment” and establish a “positive environment.”

Ben-Shaanan, who was not involved in that repeat loss study, told me, “It’s not a one-to-one ratio: The way our neurocircuitry reacts to our situations in life can perhaps have an impact. It may be hard-wired.” In other words: We may not have as much control over our stress as we want.

Of course, there’s also a lot of research showing stress has no effect on fertility. As I always say: Correlation is not causation. Yes, of course infertility causes stress. How can it not? Everyone telling you to “just relax” should try living a normal, happy life while waiting every second for a much-wanted event that hasn’t yet happened and they can’t be sure ever will. Of course infertility is stressful. Just please don’t tell me it causes infertility.

“While infertility causes stress, research shows it’s not vice versa,” says Dr. Janelle Luk of Generation Next Fertility. “Everyone’s stressed out, so it’s a silly statement,” she says. “It’s like saying, ‘Don’t eat without biting the food.’”

In fact, total fertility rates are often highest in countries that experience the harsh conditions of war, poverty and famine. In an analysis of 14 studies of 3,583 infertile women, researchers concluded: “Emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events co-occurring with treatment will not compromise the chance of becoming pregnant.”

Dr. Luk says, “Going through infertility treatment can be a high-stress event for most women, especially if they have been trying for a while.” She notes that while stress can cause menstrual and hormonal changes, “these changes are usually self-correcting and do not have any permanent impact on fertility.” So if, for example, you’re so stressed that you’re not ovulating, that can be fixed. If you’re so stressed that you’re not sleeping, eating properly or exercising—well, that can be fixed, too. And fixing those situations will probably help your fertility.

While you can’t fix a pandemic, you can fix your response to it.

And that’s why if you’re trying at home—or even back to your clinic—don’t worry that the added stress of our current isolation situation will negatively affect your chances of conceiving. We already have enough to worry about—stressing about stress shouldn’t be one of them.

Written by Amy Klein for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

How 12 Working Parents Plan to Handle Summer Childcare During a Pandemic

This summer is weird and problematic for all of us. It’s really hard to think of all that our kids are missing and how “not normal” this summer of their childhood is. It’s a lot for us as parents to handle emotionally, and even harder to manage when we are also balancing work obligations. I hope you find these tips helpful. ~Kirsten

Finding the right camp or sitter for the summer has never been easy for working parents, but this year the COVID-19 crisis has made those decisions downright daunting.

Do working parents send our kids to camp or daycare and risk exposing them to the virus? Do we ask Grandma to watch the kids, knowing she’s especially at risk if she catches COVID-19? Or do we continue to watch them while working from home, feeling guilty about all the screentime they’re getting? Not to mention, it’s not exactly the best time to be perceived as distracted at work, in an era of mass layoffs. Or do you (gulp) quit your job or take a furlough just to get through this challenging time?

There are no easy answers, and each family will have to weigh the risks and benefits of each option and make the decision that works best for them. As for my family, we’ve decided to cancel summer camp for our son, because it would have required a commute on the subway here in New York City, and instead we will send him to daycare with his baby sister when it reopens. We aren’t great (read: really bad) at working from home while taking care of a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old.

Here’s what other working parents plan on doing, and why:

Going back to daycare/preschool.

“My kids start preschool on June 1, with lots of extra protocols and smaller class sizes. We are looking forward to some normalcy and them having friends to play with. And I’ve read a lot about kids not likely being good spreaders of the virus. It’s a risk we feel we have to take for our jobs to remain stable.” —Samantha Walsh, mom of two, officer of advancement and development at a Jewish day school, Denver, Colorado

Working from home without childcare

“Our daughter was going to go to camp before starting kindergarten in the fall, but it has been canceled. For now, our plan is to keep her home this summer. My husband is a firefighter/paramedic so he is off enough that I can get work done—as a freelancer, I can be flexible with my work hours. Plus, we just don't feel safe sending her, and we wouldn't have sent her to camp if the decision wasn't made for us. There's still so much unknown about the virus, and we'd much rather make do this summer, create "camp" experiences in our backyard, carve out some time for kindergarten readiness activities and hope that things will feel better/safer come fall so Mila can start kindergarten.” —Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal, mom of one, freelance writer, Fairfield, Connecticut

“I’m working the summer without childcare. I already paid for a spot in summer camp—as of now, they are planning on opening, but I’m not optimistic. Honestly my summer plan is not to have a nervous breakdown.” —Italia Granshaw, mom of one, chief of staff at Office of New York State Assembly, North Bellmore, New York

“We are still undecided, but leaning toward not sending the kids to camp. Our daughter's June dance camp has canceled, and we're still waiting to see what the sports and dance camps do for July and August. My kids are older, 8 and 13, and my husband is also working from home. We can easily keep up our current arrangements. I just feel badly for the kids—while we have a big backyard, they miss their activities and hanging out with friends.” —Jacqueline LaBrocca, mom of two, senior director of conference operations and logistics, Salisbury Mills, New York

“Most of the camps near us are now canceling. Some have canceled only for June right now and plan to do virtual camps. That just seems like more work for us, and I don't think my daughters would appreciate it or find it interesting. Some camps have said they will be open for my older daughter but not my younger daughter, a 6-year-old. This also is not helpful. We've come up with a system that works for us while we are working from home, so we'll just continue that. With the new data coming out about how this virus impacts kids, it just doesn't feel safe.” —Marianne Drexler, mom of two, university program coordinator, Durham, North Carolina

“I'm going to keep working from home with the kids, even though it's bad for our mental health. Our daycare for Zach, 2, so far, is taking more children as of June 1 (they've been open this whole time for essential workers with up to 10 kids at a time), and I haven't gotten word about camp for Jeremy, 6, but I'm not comfortable sending them into any group situations yet. We all had some sort of virus in mid-March, but we couldn't get tested when we tried. Because there are reports of reinfections, and experts say it could take as many as six weeks to know whether cases are truly going up or down because of reopenings, I'm going to continue on as we have these past nine weeks. I already wish I had kept the kids out of daycare and school those first couple of weeks of March. I don't want to regret sending them in again. And maybe by keeping my kids home, I'm keeping other families healthy.” —Meredith Bodgas, mom of two, Working Mother editor-in-chief, Bellmore, New York

Hiring a sitter

"Still no word on camp. Some are opening, some aren’t. We have a nanny starting today. That does freak me out, but the daycare/camp suggested reopening instructions were far freakier: Temperature checks twice a day. Kids in groups of five max. Everyone masked all day, including kids 3 and over. How can I ask my 3-year-old to be masked ALL day? He’d flip out." —Rachel Stuhler, mom of two, screenwriter, Los Angeles

Relying on grandparents

“I’m hoping summer camp/daycare opens. If not, Grandma will come to babysit some of the days. I can’t have the kids inside on an iPad all summer long.” —Nicole Beniamini, mom of two, vice president at Edison Research, Hillsborough, NJ

“I’ll be honest. Up until now, we quarantined. My in-laws also quarantined. Since we know no one in the two households has seen anyone, and we tested negative, they will help us once summer break hits. Without that, I don’t know what we would have done. Camp is canceled and our daycare is closed until at least July 7.” —Larry Collica, dad of two, senior manager of retail planning, Northridge, California


“We live in Brooklyn, but we’ve been renting a house in the Catskill Mountains with another family in our neighborhood who we knew had been self-isolating as well. We have a 2-year-old son and they have two boys, a 3-year-old and 20-month-old. The seven of us have formed a parenting co-op. Each of us takes a two-hour childcare shift during the day. This allows each of us to put in almost a full day's work. It's been a truly ideal scenario, and I think all of the kids have really thrived from the social interaction they're getting with each other. But my husband was recently laid off from his advertising job. So, as sad as we are to leave the mountain house, it’s more important to us to keep our regular nanny employed and make other arrangements. We're taking a road trip to St. Louis, Missouri, to stay with my in-laws until at least August. They have a yard, a pool and ample space, which we think will be best for our son. We know none of these solutions is perfect and all carry their own risks, and we're very much aware of how lucky we are to even have these options, but it's what is working for us for now.” —Lindsey Perlstein, mom of one and content director, Brooklyn, New York

For many parents across the country, like Daniela Egan, a fundraising director in Boston, there are still too many unknowns, even this close to the summer. "Massachusetts has closed all daycares (except for some open for essential workers) through June 29. We use our work's daycare, and I'm not sure if they will want to delay beyond what the state advises or if reduced capacity will mean reduced days for us. Plus, I don't think our campus will be bringing back employees like us anytime soon. My husband and I split our days so we each get about five hours of working time during the day, plus evenings and weekends as we need it. (Spoiler, we do). I guess the plan is to continue in this status quo through the summer if we need to…"

No matter what you decide—or when you decide it—rest assured that there are plenty of parents agonizing about the best way protect their kids, their job and their sanity this summer.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

What Is Tapping? How Emotional-Freedom Technique Is the Perfect Stress-Reliever for Moms (or really anyone)

These are stressful times for all of us. I feel like all of my friends report high anxiety, sadness and trouble sleeping. Most news reports support this same trend. Tapping is an interesting technique that, I admit, I always forget about when I am stressed… then I read something that reminds me about tapping and I think, “I really have to use that stress reliever more often.” I found this article and it was a good reminder (again). Let me know if it helps you! ~Kirsten

San Diego-based Irina Jordan is the CMO for concussion-assessment technology company ImPACT Applications Inc. Married with three children, she, like other working moms, deals with her share of anxiety. She felt like she was always on a quest for a healthy stress reliever. Last year, she found a fix almost accidentally.

Irina, who is a fan of author Gabrielle Bernstein, was watching one of her YouTube videos when she “noticed her doing this tapping thing when she was talking,” Irina says. “Tapping her head. Tapping her face. I did a Google search and found she had made videos about that tapping. I watched them, did more research, and decided to try tapping on my own.”

Irina found more tapping how-to videos on YouTube and started practicing the technique a few days later. She hasn’t stopped since. She even taught her children—ages 8, 11 and 14—as well as a community of local businesswomen. “I use it whenever I feel triggered. Maybe I just had a meeting with a colleague and now I feel anxious, so I tap to make that anxiety go away,” she says. She also sometimes taps preemptively. “If I anticipate a stressful conference call, I will tap beforehand.”

Working moms experience a drop in their well-being when they feel inadequate and under pressure, according to research published in the Springer Journal of Happiness Studies. That affects how they interact with their children. Add the pressure of working while caregiving during the COVID-19 era— and not having access to the usual stress relievers, such as hitting the gym or going out with friends—tapping might be the mental-health helper you need now.

A Touching Technique

Tapping, otherwise known as emotional-freedom technique for its anxiety-reducing effect, is a self-help strategy that has people literally tapping on their bodies, homing in on specific acupuncture points on the hand, face, head and upper body. As the tapping takes place, it affects a part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls emotions and the fight-or-flight response, according to Donna Bach, N.D., a traditional naturopathic practitioner and tapping expert, who helped run many tapping studies. Because it’s noninvasive, anyone can do it anytime, anywhere (just wash your hands first).

The majority of people who tap these days, like Irina, learn through free videos on YouTube or phone apps. The New York Times bestselling author and tapping expert Jessica Ortner, who created a tapping app in October 2018, says anyone can learn how to do it in a few hours. The process starts by studying the nine acupuncture points to tap and following the onscreen demos. Then, you can add in some positive affirmations and imagery. Experts suggest saying out loud what you’re hoping to accomplish as you tap each point, such as ditching a bad feeling or achieving a specific goal.

“You can repeat the word or phrase silently. But people who say it out loud tend to stay focused better since their mind doesn’t wander as much,” Dr. Bach says.

“Gently tap seven to 10 times per point using two or three fingers—the same way you might impatiently tap on a table,” Ortner says. “If both hands are free, you can tap with both hands, but if not, one works as well.”

Move through all nine points to complete a round. Experts suggest doing two or three rounds when you’re feeling anxious or upset, spending a few minutes on each round. One round is enough to boost relaxation and create change inside your body, though, Dr. Bach says.

“But if you’re still feeling any fear, pain or anxiety, you can do the whole round over and over again,” she says.

Proving the Point

Tapping has been around only since 1995, when it was first introduced by Gary Craig, a Stanford University engineer, but it’s based on an ancient science—the Chinese meridian system. Tapping and acupuncture practitioners alike believe that we have internal energy called “qi,” which flows through our meridian points. By manipulating those points, practitioners can move and direct the energy that flows through it, calming the mind and body.

Much like acupuncture, there’s plenty of research behind tapping. For example, one of about 100 tapping studies investigated if tapping could affect levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In that study, test subjects were split into three groups: Some people tapped, some did talk therapy with a pro, and the rest relaxed alone in a quiet setting.

“It was a triple-blind study looking at biological markers,” explains Dawson Church, Ph.D., a lead on the study, who is also the CEO of Energy Psychology Group Inc.

“We saw anxiety and depression symptoms drop right away [in the tapping group], but the more impressive thing was that cortisol levels dropped dramatically after just one hourlong session. If you tell me that a patient feels less depressed or anxious that’s great, but if you tell me that patient’s actual biology changes, that makes me sit up and take notice,” Dr. Church says. He’s run dozens of other clinical trials.

Adds Dr. Bach: “When we did our research, we took saliva samples, and we saw lowered cortisol levels and an increase of immunoglobulins, which increases the immune system, reduces heart rate and decreases blood pressure.”

Other studies have linked tapping to reduced food cravings, improved post-traumatic stress disorder, reduced pain and fear during childbirth, improved sports performance, and eliminated dental-work anxiety.

Finding Peace with Tapping

Speech pathologist Maryann Sucich-Massari, from Glen Head, New York, started tapping to deal with a work problem that was keeping her up at night. She read about tapping on, a website with courses and educational offerings.

“It was 3 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep. I found this video and started tapping, and immediately felt calm.” She didn’t want to learn tapping by herself, so she found a practitioner online. Maryann paid $625 for six phone sessions for that pro to talk her through tapping, giving her scripts to use, and uncovering the big issues she needed to work on.

“Tapping turned everything in my head way down,” Maryann says. She now taps on her own as an antidote to the stress that comes along with a busy schedule, working with children with autism, and taking care of her own family. “There’s a lot of paperwork, and I get lonely since I’m one-on-one with children all day,” Maryann says. “I tap and focus on my emotions and the outcomes I want.”

Ortner, who was a tapper before she was a tapping entrepreneur, says working parents such as Maryann can use tapping at home and in the office—even while in the middle of a meeting. “If you’re with people and you’re feeling stress, you can hold your hand and tap discreetly so no one notices,” she says. Dr. Church notes that situational tapping—before giving a speech, during a tough commute, or while trying to wrangle kids—is actually the perfect time to tap.

Irina says she’s comfortable tapping anywhere, including at the office, and is happy if someone asks her what she’s doing; she likes explaining what tapping is and how it works. “I don’t do woo-woo stuff, and this isn’t woo-woo,” she says.

This “woo-woo” factor is one of the things that can hold people back from trying the technique, Dr. Church says. “The largest misconception people have about energy therapies is that they aren’t visible, so they can’t possibly be effective. It’s hard for humans to accept that energy can change anything. However, we scientists see that it’s changing gene expression, it’s changing biology, it’s changing blood-chemical levels. It’s not mystical or impossible. It’s happening.”

The Tapping Points

Tapping Points with text
. Working Mother

By tapping on the nine points in order, you complete one round of the anxiety-reducing practice.

There are nine tapping points, including the sides of the hands right below the pinkie, as well as spots on the face and upper body. Once you "activate" the starting point under the pinkie, you move around as follows:

Point 1: The “karate-chop point,” right below the pinkie fingers.

Point 2: At the beginning of your eyebrows, nearest to the nose, right where the hair starts.

Point 3: Outer end of the eyebrows, right on the bone.

Point 4: On the bone right below the eye, where your pupils would be if they were lower and you were looking straight ahead.

Point 5: Below the nostrils in the philtrum, the small groove above your upper lip.

Point 6: About midway between the lowest point of your bottom lip and your chin.

Point 7: Middle of the collarbone.

Point 8: Under the arm, right above where your bra ends.

Point 9: At the top of the head.

Written by Karen J. Bannan for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

How to Work from Home with a Baby During the Coronavirus Pandemic

While many restrictions have been lifted for the lockdown, those that can still work from home are doing so. Caring for young children while juggling zoom calls is our new reality for the foreseeable future while we await a vaccine. I hope you find this helpful. Of course, I must note that she recommends finding new toys… think KLEYNIMALS! Stay safe! ~Kirsten

An executive VP shares her tips for balancing work and raising her infant amid a global crisis.

Being a new mom is an amazing challenge in and of itself. Since having my son nine months ago, I have experienced the high of a love like none other, the low of postpartum depression and every emotion in between. Once my maternity leave was over, and I got into the rhythm of working again and feeling comfortable and confident in his daycare, bam—here comes a pandemic.

Working with a newborn at home is definitely difficult. My son is not old enough to e-learn and requires attention from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. Today I’m sharing a few tips on how my husband and I have found a working balance to keep everything moving.

1. Set a routine for yourself.

While it’s too soon to really get your infant on a structured timeline, if you are type A like I am, you will need a structure for yourself. Still set an alarm and shower before your little one wakes up. Take a few hours of normalcy after your child’s bedtime to vent with your girlfriends or enjoy a glass of wine.

2. Create a shared calendar with your significant other.

With a baby that cannot communicate its needs, it is so important that someone is always available. My husband and I have gotten into the routine of adding our meetings to each other’s Google calendars so that we are sure that, as much as possible, we are not overlapping in other priorities at any time.

3. Find new toys that entertain and are great for development at your infant’s age, introducing something new each week.

Our current favorites are the Skip Hop 3-Stage Activity Center, the Joovy Spoon Walker, the Fisher-Price Learning Cube and Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy and anything from Kido here in Chicago!

4. Expand the feedings and nighttime routine.

My daycare sends photos of my infant making works of art, learning music with live guitar lessons and doing yoga. And as the saying goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I still find time for developmental lessons in the day-to-day, practicing pincer grasp during lunch, holding the bottle in the evening and more. Spend a little extra time together at each feeding break, and at night, read a few extra books and sing a few more songs.

5. Set out a balanced meal plan, even for an infant.

Do this if your child has started solids, to take care of what daycare traditionally provides. Make sure that they are exploring new textures and flavors.

6. On the weekends, turn “family time” into “personal time.”

We are all in an abundance of the former right now. Where you usually would carve out activities with the kids, get some alone-time R&R. Take that bubble bath, make that phone call and let your significant other handle your little one.

Above all, remember, this is cherished time that you won’t get back.

I feel lucky that I’ve been home for my son’s first words (“dada”—sigh), and for him to learn how to crawl—two things that otherwise he would have been at daycare for.

Written by Lianne Hedditch for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

New Discovery Reveals Why Babies Kick In The Womb

I admit that this study is not the newest, but I missed it when it was first published. I also admit that I just needed something fun and uplifting to think about and babies always help accomplish that! Did you have any theories on why babies kick in the womb? Do you agree with the outcome of this small sampling?

Have you ever wondered why babies kick? It turns out it isn't just for the excitement of the mother feeling their child for the first time. In fact, a new study has revealed that a baby's fetal movements are performed in order to map their environment and their own bodies.

This is the first way that babies begin to construct a brain network, making connections and building a sense of spatial awareness. It reportedly determines what part of their little bodies are moving and being touched, in turn.

The study analyzed the brain activity of 19 newborns in the UK via noninvasive electroencephalography (EEG). The researchers realized that the brainwaves of these two-day-old newborns corresponded to their limb movements as they slept.

Neuroscientist, Lorenzo Fabrizi of the University College London, attempts to shed some light on the findings.

"Spontaneous movement and consequent feedback from the environment during the early developmental period are known to be necessary for proper brain mapping in animals such as rats," he explains. "Here we showed that this may be true in humans too."

In these animal studies, previous research had shown that the development and processing of sensory stimuli in newborn mammals was a direct result of isolated limb movements. The resulting neuro patterns, known as alpha-beta oscillations, work in the somatic nervous system to form a map of their body.

Researchers discovered this brainwave process was also prevalent in newborns. This is supported by the lack of these patterns as the newborn acclimates to the new world around them outside of the womb.

The study found that these spatial mappings as a result of fetal movement stop quickly after birth. After a few days outside the womb, these knee-jerk movements do not show the same correspondence to these initial brain waves. Scientists have thusly inferred that these fetal movements are beneficial inside the womb and seek to prepare the baby for the outside world upon birth.

Pretty amazing for a human who can't even cry liquid tears until they reach the end of their first month outside of the womb.

These fundamental aspects of touch are useful immediately from birth for skills like breastfeeding," claims doctoral student, Kimberley Whitehead, of the University College London.

With over 2.4 million weddings occurring each year in the United States, countless babies will be born as a result. Now that we know more about how babies grow and develop both in and outside of the womb, we're able to better care for these little bundles of joy.

Written by LouAnn Moss for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Pandemic Silver Lining: My Kids Finally Understand They Can’t Always Get What They Want

This pandemic has highlighted the existing inequalities in our world and made them even worse. I know how lucky my family is to be able to isolate at home with food on our plates. We are bringing food to people in need and donating to various non-profits, but it still never feels like enough. These are big, scary things for our littlest to comprehend, but perhaps the power of “can’t have” and “no” is a good (smaller) lesson for them in these moments. This article spoke to me for that reason. ~Kirsten

It took COVID-19 to teach my kids (and me) the value of money.

“I want red grapes. Where are the red grapes?” my 4-year-old demanded with a scowl creeping over her face.

We always had green grapes and red grapes plentiful. As two working parents, sleep-deprived and overworked, we had red grapes on hand to stop tears streaming down the face and the inevitable rolling and kicking on the floor. To get more fruit (and not fruit snacks) into her system. To make us feel better about ourselves: our daughter wanted red grapes, so we had red grapes.

And that was pre-COVID-19.

“We don’t have red grapes, we only have green grapes,” I explained. “It’s whatever they have in the grocery store now.”

She whined for a bit. I cleaned the kitchen as I watched her move the green grapes around. My husband helped our 7-year-old with his homework. She mumbled to herself. And then, several minutes later, the bowl was empty. Green grapes gone. She went off to play with her Peppa Pig set.

As the child of immigrant parents, there was no choice between red grapes or green grapes. I didn’t even know there was a choice. I didn’t even know grapes came in different colors. I didn’t even know I could have grapes over a banana. And sometimes there were no grapes at all. It was whatever was on sale at the grocery store that week, plus whatever coupons Ma had scoped out for the additional discount.

We never asked, we never questioned. We accepted what was given.

For my younger brother and me, gifts were only for birthdays and Christmas. We knew we only received gifts on those designated holidays. It was understood.

“Can I get some more Pokémon cards?” my son asked. “I did my homework this week. You can just order it off Amazon,” he added, pointing to my phone.

For my younger brother and me, we got McDonald’s Happy Meals a few times a year during road trips. We treasured those little toys; lining them up against our bedroom windows.

When cleaning our car recently, I discovered some McDonalds Happy Meal toys. Much to my embarrassment, I found that two of the toys had never been opened, nestled in their plastic bags.

For my younger brother and me, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were the two occasions when we would go out to eat. We went to Chengdu, the local Chinese restaurant. I would wear a dress with stockings, spray on some of my mother’s Beautiful perfume and tie a pink satin bow at the end of my braid.

“Mommy, food is here!” my 4-year-old screamed as she raced to the door. Our Seamless delivery had arrived for dinner. “Where are the dumplings?”

In a dual career household with two demanding careers, we were constantly racing. Racing out the door with backpacks, racing back in the door on a conference call while ordering dinner to be delivered. Racing to make the presentation; racing to find a silly hat for hat day at school. Racing to make that flight; racing back the next day to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.

Racing to be great leaders and racing to be great parents in a race that seemed to have no finish line in sight.

And as we raced, red grapes were a way to make our lives easier. Red grapes were a way to avoid tears and kicks. Red grapes were for our convenience, more important to us than to my 4-year-old. Red grapes fueled us, helped us to continue this race. Red grapes, green grapes and the abundance of all the fruits piled into our fridge were a quiet reminder of a life of privilege our parents could never have even imagined for us.

The new coronavirus pandemic had brought about the great slowdown. Our races had come to an abrupt stop.

And red grapes? There were no red grapes to be had. Red grapes had disappeared from our grocery store.

As I educated my children on COVID-19 and explained why red grapes were no longer available, why we could eat green grapes instead and why they tasted the same, how on some days we would eat whatever fruit was available, they nodded and kept coloring on the kitchen table. I’m not sure how much they understood about COVID-19. And I’m not sure how much I understood either.

And what I did understand: our on-the-go, on-demand lifestyle of getting what we want when we wanted and where we wanted to satisfy ourselves and pacify our children was a life that was unraveling. And a life that during this forced stop I looked at and no longer recognized and had a hard time understanding. It’s a life in some ways I am embarrassed we had led.

Our lives were slowing down to start up again. It was an opportunity to understand that those things that gave us convenience and allowed us to race around were actually no longer needed. Maybe those things were never needed in the first place.

During a recent family walk, we passed our favorite bagel place, Think Cup in Jersey City. I explained to the kids that Think Cup and other places were suffering because we weren’t allowed to go and sit and eat there anymore. Our new rule is we can pick up bagels twice a week when they have good behavior. And it’s a way to support and keep our local restaurants open.

During family story time, we go through bins and look for books we haven’t read in a while. My son told me he had already read the Magic Tree House books a year ago and he needed more off Amazon. Our new rule is that we reread the books that we have. For Easter, they each selected one new book they wanted. To my surprise, he agreed.

During our family meals, we remind our kids that the grocery store has now limits per family: one milk, one dish soap, one one of each critical item. We don’t need to hold onto items; we need to be sharing. And we need to be using what we already have. Our new rule is that you only ask for what you can eat. And one addition from my mom’s playbook: your plate needs to be clean at the end of every meal.

“You get what you get and you don’t get upset!” my son loudly proclaimed as he settled in for our mac and cheese dinner, this time made with ziti noodles instead of their favorite elbow noodles. And it took COVID-19 to make us all realize that ziti noodles and elbow noodles in fact do taste just the same.

Written by Working Mother Editors for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

A Panic Attack Can Mimic the Symptoms of COVID-19. Here’s What to Do About It.

It’s hard not to feel anxious during these stressful and trying times. I have been using meditation and breathing exercises to get me through the moments when reality hits hard. Here are some tips I found helpful to share. Sending love and light, Kirsten

Sweating, shortness of breath, a sense of impending doom: The symptoms of a panic attack are never particularly pleasant. But in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic they can be downright disconcerting—especially for people experiencing them for the first time. Here is what to do if you think you might be having a panic attack, and how to deal with your pandemic-related anxiety in general.

If you’re in need of immediate help, call 911 or one of the mental health hotlines listed here.

Shortness of breath is a symptom of both COVID-19 and anxiety. Here’s how to tell the difference.

A panic attack is when your fear or anxiety trigger sudden, physical symptoms with no obvious cause. The exact result can vary from person to person, but classic signs include some of the same symptoms folks have been told to look out for from COVID-19: chest pain, shortness of breath, and a feeling of feverishness or chills. If you’re having chest pain or serious trouble breathing for a sustained period, or when you already feel physically ill, you should absolutely call a doctor. But if you think your symptoms might be due to fear or anxiety, there are strategies you can use to breathe through it.

“The piece that gets people going in a classic panic attack is often that they feel as though they can’t breathe,” says Sheila Addison, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Oakland, California. This is usually because you’re taking very fast, shallow breaths, which minimizes your oxygen intake and causes your muscles to tense up.

Often, Addison explains, focusing on making your breathing more structured—lying down and counting through a pattern such as square breathing, where you count to four while inhaling, pause for a count of four, exhale on a count of four, and pause for another count of four before starting again—can help steady the body and get oxygen flowing normally again. Once you no longer feel starved for air, your body should stop tensing up. Your panic probably won’t disappear in an instant, but it will dissipate.

If you already know you have anxiety, don’t forget to keep doing what works

When it comes to people who have already been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder before, Addison says, the first line of defense is simple: Stick to your usual coping mechanisms.

“Sometimes when a stressor like this comes up and routines get disrupted, people inexplicably stop doing the things that work for them,” Addison says.

If you know exercise helps lower your anxiety, keep exercising—go for walks or runs outside as much as you’re able, or take up yoga at home. If you’re already prescribed medication, keep taking it (and be diligent about getting refills if at all possible). If journaling has been an important tool in managing your stress, don’t stop making your entries. This might sound like common sense, but if your anxiety has been spiking lately, stop and take inventory of your usual strategies and routines. Have some of them fallen by the wayside? There’s no shame in that—it’s a scary time, and doing your morning yoga might feel silly or self-indulgent—but it’s time to get back to your best habits. The CDC recommends eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and disengaging from the news occasionally to give your brain a break.

If you’re experiencing anxiety for the first time, here are things you can try at home

Meditation is a great thing to try if you need to destress, and there are apps to help you get into a meditation practice if you’re new to the idea. But Addison points out that it doesn’t work for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel bad if it doesn’t work for you.

“I don’t meditate,” she says. “I’ve found that trying to do it just stresses me out.”

Still, she says, the broader concept of mindfulness has been very helpful to her and her clients. She recommends reading the works of Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, for help grappling with dark times.

“I’m not a Buddhist myself, but a lot of her work really resonates, especially now,” Addison says. “She talks a lot about how we like things to be certain, we like to have control, and we like to have choices.” When we’re in a situation with lots of rapidly-changing circumstances and looming unknowns, Addison says, our first instinct is to resist that reality as much as possible. In doing so, Chödrön argues, we only add to our own anguish.

“I may not be able to do much about the suffering of canceled plans or missing my family or worrying about someone I love,” Addison says, “but I can do something about the suffering caused by the stories I tell myself about the situation—worrying it will always be like this, or thinking about how unfair it is and how much I hate it.”

But how can we change those stories we tell ourselves? A lot of this comes down to internal dialogue; investigate the way you’re thinking about your current situation and ask yourself what parts of that you might be able to change. Addison thinks a recent resource published by Russ Harris, a psychotherapist and author of The Happiness Trap, is a good place to begin:

FACE COVID is a series of steps for dealing with fear and anxiety in the time of COVID-19. Start by focusing on what’s in your control. The economy, for example, is not in your control. But you can decide you’d like to write out a new budget that takes some of the uncontrollable financial pitfalls you’re worried about into account.

Acknowledge what you’re feeling: Very matter-of-factly recognizing that you’re experiencing anxiety or grief has the dual benefit of encouraging you to be kind to yourself and discouraging your mind from running away with those feelings. Grief is a valid feeling, but it doesn’t have to consume your whole day. Recognize that it’s there, but also that it isn’t you.

Come back into your body. Meditation might not be for you, but taking deep breaths and grounding yourself—or even using one of the breathing patterns mentioned earlier in this article—can help you regain a sense of control of yourself.

Engage in what you’re doing. Smith recommends thinking about three or four things you can see from your current position, or taking note of the smells and tastes you’re experiencing, as a way of refocusing before you move from thinking about your anxiety to honing in on whatever task you have at hand.

The COVID part of the acronym deals with moving forward from the moment of acute anxiety: Committed action is about picking things to do that align with your values and will make good use of your time. You might text a friend who you know is self-isolating, donate protective gear to a local hospital, deliver groceries for an immunocompromised neighbor, or commit to accomplishing some long-put-off task while you’re stuck at home.

Opening up is about continuing to engage with your own feelings, and being as compassionate and patient with yourself about them as you would be with a loved one who came to you for advice. “Values” is a reminder to think about what is important to you and what you would like to contribute to the world during this crisis—sharing kind words and offering emotional support to others. Identify resources by figuring out who you can and should reach out to when you’re in crisis and finding reliable sources of information to keep your anxiety in check. Finally, Smith throws in a “Disinfect and Distance” instruction to remind us all of why we’re cooped up at home alone: To protect ourselves and our communities.

Don’t forget that reaching out to friends and family is still quite possible, thanks to technology—and that some of them may be feeling just as anxious as you are. Sharing love and resources can help both of you feel more calm.

“We’re finding some fantastic ways of staying in touch thanks to technology,” Addison says. “It’s so cliche to blame tech for separating people, but I’m blown away by all the ways people are finding to connect.”

Written by Rachel Feltman for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

How to stop touching your face

Right before the COVID-19 shut downs started, my son and I went into Washington, DC on March 10th to speak to our congressional representatives about World Wildlife Fund and the importance of protecting nature. The coronavirus weighed heavily on my mind and I admit to being all over my son about touching his face. I spent the day constantly swatting his hand away from his face, and dousing his hands (and mine) with hand sanitizer. Here are some helpful tips for you and your family!

Public health officials consistently promote hand-washing as a way for people to protect themselves from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

However, this virus can live on metal and plastic for days, so simply adjusting your eyeglasses with unwashed hands may be enough to infect yourself. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have been telling people to stop touching their faces.

We are experts in psychological science and public health. Brian Labus is an expert in communicable diseases who knows what people should do to avoid becoming infected. Stephen Benning is a clinical psychologist who helps clients change their habits and manage stress in healthy ways. Kimberly Barchard is an expert in research methods who wanted to know what the research says about face-touching. Together, we used our clinical expertise and the research literature to identify the best practices to reduce face-touching and lower people’s chances of catching COVID-19.

People touch their faces frequently. They wipe their eyes, scratch their noses, bite their nails and twirl their mustaches. People touch their faces more when they are anxious, embarrassed, or stressed, but also when they aren’t feeling anything at all. It's been estimated that students, office workers, medical personnel, and people on trains touch their faces between nine and 23 times per hour, on average.

Why is it so hard to stop? Face-touching rewards us by relieving momentary discomforts like itches and muscle tension. These discomforts usually pass within a minute, but face-touching provides immediate relief that eventually makes it a habitual response that resists change.

Change habitual behaviors

Habit reversal training is a well-established behavior modification technique that helps people stop a variety of seemingly automatic behaviors, such as nervous tics, nail-biting, and stuttering. It trains people to notice the discomfort that prompts their habits, select another behavior to use until the discomfort passes, and change their surroundings to lessen their discomfort.

You may have already changed some of your other habits—for example, by coughing into your elbow instead of your hands, or greeting others with a bow or wave instead of a handshake. But unlike coughing and hand-shaking, people frequently touch their faces without being aware of doing so. The first step in reducing face-touching is becoming aware of it.

Each time you touch your face, notice how you touched your face, the urge or sensation that preceded it and the situation you were in—what you were doing, where you were physically or what you were feeling emotionally. If you usually don’t notice when you touch your face, you can ask someone else to point it out.

Self-monitoring is more effective when people create a physical record. You can create a log where you briefly describe each instance of face-touching. For example, log entries might say:

  • Scratched nose with finger, felt itch, while at my desk
  • Fiddled with eyeglasses, hands tingled, frustrated
  • Rested chin on palm, neck sore, while reading
  • Bit fingernail, nail caught on pants, watching TV

Self-monitoring is more effective if people share their outcomes publicly, so consider sharing your results with friends or post it on social media.

Create new responses

Now that you are aware of the behavior you want to change, you can replace it with a competing response that opposes the muscle movements needed to touch your face. When you feel the urge to touch your face, you can clench your fists, sit on your hands, press your palms onto the tops of your thighs, or stretch your arms straight down at your sides.

This competing response should be inconspicuous and use a position that can be held for at least a minute. Use the competing response for as long as the urge to touch your face persists.

Some sources recommend object manipulation, in which you occupy your hands with something else. You can rub your fingertips, fiddle with a pen or squeeze a stress ball. The activity shouldn’t involve touching any part of your head. For tough-to-break habits, object manipulation isn't as effective as competing responses, perhaps because people tend to play with objects when bored, but touch their faces and hair when anxious.

Manage your triggers

Changing your environment can reduce your urges to touch your face and your need to use alternative responses. Use your log to figure out what situations or emotions are associated with your face-touching. For example:

  • If your glasses keep slipping off your nose, you can use ear hooks or hair ties to prevent slippage.
  • If you bite your nails, you can use a file to keep your nails short, or wear gloves or fingertip bandages, so that nail-biting is impossible.
  • If allergies make your eyes or skin itch or make your nose run, you can limit your exposure to allergens or take antihistamines.
  • If you get food stuck between your teeth, you can brush your teeth after each meal.
  • If your hair gets in your eyes and mouth, you can use an elastic, scarf or hair product to keep it back.

Face it, you may not be able to stop

Most people cannot entirely eliminate unwanted habits, but they can reduce them and just reducing face-touching lessens the opportunities for viruses to enter your system.

Sometimes you need to touch your face: flossing your teeth, putting in contact lenses, wiping food off your lips, putting on makeup or shaving your jaw. Remember to wash your hands first. To adjust your glasses without first washing your hands, use a tissue and throw it out immediately after use. Avoid finger food and using unwashed hands to put food into your mouth. Wash your hands first, or use utensils or the wrapper to handle the food.

Other ways you can reduce the spread of infectious diseases include practicing social spacing, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand santizer, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces regularly. When your hands touch contaminated surfaces, though, the suggestions above may help you avoid touching your face before you wash them again.

Written by Labus for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

A Guide to Safe Outdoor Activities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

With officials urging us to limit unnecessary travel, many of us might be starting to feel a bit stir crazy. Being outside and in nature is important for dealing with stress and anxiety—the exact emotions in overdrive right now. But is it possible to safely head outdoors without putting your and others’ health at risk?

The short answer is yes—we can technically walk, run, and bike alone or with our immediate household without violating social distancing rules. But there’s more to consider before opening the door.

Adhere to official guidelines

Before you lace up your shoes, check what local health officials are saying for your area. “It's really important that people understand the situation that they're in,” says Lisa Miller, epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Understand your own locality and the public health recommendations or public health orders that are in place and abide by those first and foremost.”

In some locations with more cases of the virus, access to beaches, parks, and trails is being restricted. Restrictions can be very localized—while the California Coronavirus Response website says that you can still hike and run outside, individual cities and counties in the state are closing outdoor areas that proved to be too crowded to maintain safe distances. Also, while national park fees have been waived, many are individually cutting back on camping and visitor services, or closing altogether.

For some activities, you may be able to find guidance from local sport-specific organizations. In Salt Lake City, for example, the local rock climbing association has told climbers to stay away from outdoor cliffs, as there are simply too many rock climbers in the area to maintain a safe distance.

If we’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that the guidelines for best practices can change from day-to-day. So stay informed. “If that means you really need to stick to indoor exercise, then stick to indoor exercise,” adds Miller. “If it's still allowed to be outside and exercising, that's great, but really maintain that six-foot distance from people and don't engage in activities that are going to bring you into contact with other people.”

Safe activities: minimize contact, shared surfaces with others

In general, running, walking, and biking solo or with your immediate household can be done with minimal risk of catching or spreading the virus. But sports performed in groups and involving physical contact are a no-go. Miller says to remember that the virus can be spread by direct contact or by touching the same objects. When considering an activity, think about how close you’ll be to others and whether you’ll be touching the same things. The more often a ball or other piece of sports equipment is touched by someone other than yourself, the more risk you’re introducing for disease spread. If your go-to sport has too many uncertainties to make a clear call—say, not knowing if it will be possible to maintain distance at a particular trail or park—it’s better to be conservative and don’t go.

If you’ve satisfied all the above precautions and are ready to go, “wash your hands before you go out,” says Grace Roberts, a virologist at Queen’s University Belfast. “You don’t know if you’re infected.” Also, bring everything you need—water, snacks, etc.—so that you can minimize having to stop at any stores. Don’t use public restrooms or other shared facilities.

Then, when you’re out, avoid touching surfaces with your hands and keep your hands away from your face. For example, you might use your elbow to hit a crosswalk button. Roberts says that when she’s running, she reserves her left hand for hitting the crosswalk button or any other surfaces, while her right hand is used for adjusting her glasses, or handling water and snacks. Once you get home, immediately wash your hands.

Stay local and spread out

Those experiencing a layoff or the newly-found freedom of remote work may have misinterpreted what it means to self-quarantine. In recent weeks, officials in outdoor tourism hotspots have made calls for travellers to stay home. In a letter, hospital executives in the outdoors-centric Moab, Utah-area expressed concern over the impact of tourism: “As a 17-bed critical access hospital, we have no ICU and minimal capability to care for critical respiratory patients. Additionally, we are now concerned that tourism will drive the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

Even the best-intentioned travellers will have to make stops for gas and groceries, introducing opportunities for the virus to jump to new locations. Stay close to home to prevent this. Miller says to think about all the steps involved in a particular activity—will you have to stop for food, equipment, or anything else? The more stops, the more you risk contracting and spreading the virus. “You can’t just think about the end goal,” says Miller. “You have to think about all of those other things.”

Even for local trips, plan routes carefully. Think about which locations tend to get crowded, and choose less-busy alternatives. As the nonprofit outdoor organization Leave No Trace puts it: “Absolutely avoid crowded parks, trails and beaches. Social distancing applies in the outdoors just as it does anywhere else.” And, the group adds, be prepared to pack out any trash, since many parks are only providing limited services right now.

Hospitals don’t need more patients—choose low-risk sports

With many areas concerned about hospital capacity, now is not the time to take any risks. Tommy Caldwell, a professional rock climber, told his Instagram followers last week that he wouldn’t be climbing outside during the health crisis: “Soon taking up space in a hospital bed will amount to a death sentence for someone else."

With ski resorts closed, the Colorado Sun reports that more Coloradans are taking to the backcountry to ski, facing increased risks. Especially if that new crowd includes skiers without essential gear and training, it could place an additional burden on emergency services and hospitals. And, of course, denser crowds means it’s harder to maintain six feet of space.

This advice even goes for city-bound activities, like road cycling. Roberts says that cyclists should think about which routes put them in close contact with motorists. If you’re planning bike rides, you may want to avoid routes where you have to share the roads with cars to reduce the odds of getting in an accident.

“You want to make sure that you are limiting risk and not getting injured because the last thing you want to do is end up in a health care system, especially for communities that may not have a lot of healthcare resources,” says Miller. “Most health care resources right now are really focused on making sure they preserve all the resources they possibly can for COVID-19.”

Written by Ula Chrobak for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to