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  • October 17, 2020 3:07 PM | Anonymous

    Moving is not easy on anyone — adults or kids. John is a 14-year-old boy who recently moved from the US to the Netherlands. According to his parents, he is moody and angry, and he is having a hard time making friends and engaging in schoolwork at his new school. His parents are not sure if he is depressed or just being a teenager.

    Research shows that young people who have moved house may experience unresolved grief from the loss of their home, school and friends, and this may manifest itself as denial, anger, depression, withdrawal or rebellion. Like John, kids who have recently moved may exhibit difficulties with their identity formation because previously stable factors at home and school are missing during an important time in their life.

    Parents and caregivers have an essential role in supporting kids during a move. They can help children and teens create a sense of identity, belonging and rootedness. The following are some strategies to help improve self-confidence and minimize cultural homelessness: 

    Realize that every child is unique when it comes to change

    One of my kids had a much harder time with a recent move than the other. He missed his friends, his old school and his routine, and he grieved this loss. Know your child and take time to explore how they may be addressing change. Remember that moving during the teen years is significantly harder because this is a formative period. Having said that, many young people are extremely resilient and handle change well. 

    Create belonging in the local community

    Kids that feel connected to the local community will feel more self-confident. Ensure yours have a good understanding of the culture by encouraging them to be involved with community service, be part of a local sports team, or engage in other activities. For my son, who was struggling with our recent move, activities like walking the neighbor’s dog every day, joining a local soccer club, and speaking with his grandparents regularly were very helpful. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support, whether it is from a family member, counselor, coach or teacher. 

    Use social communities to build language

    Multilingualism can be hard to maintain, especially if there are more than two or three languages at play. As Mariam Ottimofiore, who is the author of This Messy Mobile Life and who has lived in nine countries with her husband and two children, suggests, “Get support from others to encourage using the local language, to make it fun and exciting for kids. Think about joining clubs or camps where the additional language will be used or enrolling in a study-abroad experience for immersion. At the same time, realize that it is OK if your child is unable to maintain all the languages they have been exposed to. You and your teen will need to prioritize which languages are important and how to continue learning them.

    Use virtual tools to maintain contact

    For some kids, having connections with their old community and friends is a meaningful way to handle loss. As we have learned from Covid-19, using virtual tools such as Skype or Zoom are good ways for kids to stay in touch with family or community far away.

    Demonstrate healthy ways to grieve, and get help if needed

    Encourage healthy ways to address loss, such as journaling, connecting via a phone or video call, exercising, meditating, and listening to music (even crying can be cathartic). If needed, look for a counselor or mentor to help your teen identify and deal with loss directly.

    Be aware that adults can struggle, too

    Adults who have moved may not have a clear sense of identity in their new location or may struggle to belong, which can add to their child’s or teen's challenges. On the other hand, cross-cultural adults may also impart skills and values honed from their own experiences. As an adult expatriate, I realized that each time I moved, it took me two to three years to settle into my new environment. I now know that finding a community and creating a sense of identity and belonging have been crucial to my happiness and sense of well-being in each country that we have lived in. Having friends who have gone through similar experiences, visiting online forums, and being involved with cross-cultural organizations such as Families in Global Transition (FIGT) have also helped me immensely. Being aware of these issues may be important for families as they navigate change and uncertainty  — both now and in the future.

    Dr. Anisha Abraham is a pediatrician and a teen health expert who is on the faculty of the University of Amsterdam and Georgetown University Hospital. Anisha works with cross-cultural teens on issues such as stress, substance use, body image, and self-esteem. This piece was adapted from her recently released book, Raising Global Teens. For more information or to order the book, see dranishaabraham.com.

    Have any questions or comments, or want to share more ideas? In the American Women’s Club member-only Facebook group, you can join the lively conversation! Not yet a member? We’d love to have you!

  • October 17, 2020 3:06 PM | Anonymous

    For a tiny country, there is surprisingly no shortage of things to do in the Netherlands. From cinemas to live theaters and concerts to comedy, there are plenty of entertainment options in Amsterdam and beyond. American Women’s Club of Amsterdam members have access to a full calendar of great in-person and virtual events. But beyond the club, how do you find out what’s going on? We aim to provide you links to find out what’s happening, plus a bit of Dutch vocabulary to help you when Google Translate isn’t available or doesn’t work well.

    For a general overview of what's happening in Amsterdam, go to www.iamsterdam.com. You can search for upcoming art, music and theater events up to one month in advance. For Haarlem, check the www.visithaarlem.com page (although not everything is in English; you can search for upcoming events by date) or the Haarlem Guide. The events overview for ‘t Gooi can be seen (with some translation) on their Dutch website: Select Uitagenda (events agenda) and, in the filter area, choose between ‘vandaag, morgen, dit weekend, kies datum’ (today, tomorrow, this weekend, choose date) to see what’s happening when. You can also filter on Regio (region). Google Translate works well with this website, so it’s worth checking out, especially if you live outside of ‘t Gooi and want to explore a little. For our Utrecht members, we have some AWCA member-recommended, evergreen ideas for Utrecht on our very own travel blog.


    Films in English or foreign films with English subtitles

    Most cinemas show a mixture of films in Dutch and English. The listings below are for independent theaters in Amsterdam that show arthouse films in the original language with English subtitles.  Most of these cinemas are part of the Cineville group where you can use a monthly unlimited pass for €17.50 (up to age 29) or €21 (age 30+) per month.

    Cinema AmstelveenDe FilmhallenDe UitkijkFC HyenaThe Movies, Studio/K may also show English language films but do not have special information about them in English. They are listed in the normal agenda online and in the film description it should say [Gesproken] Taal: Engels ([Spoken] Language: English) or will list where the film was produced. Verenigd Koninkrijk and Verenigde Staten are the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively. 

    Other movie theaters outside of Amsterdam with some films in English include: 

    Pathé theaters show the latest Hollywood films. Pathé has theaters all over the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, Haarlem and Utrecht. The majority of films are in their original language, English. Children's films are often shown in Dutch and in English. Children’s films that are dubbed in Dutch will be listed with NL or Nederlandse versie (Dutch version) after the title. For films from the US, they will be in English if Originele versie (original version) is listed. The Pathé agenda is available in English.

    Live Performances

    *Note: When you look at the Dutch agenda for many of the venues listed below, you may see Verplaatst or Afgelast for some performances due to Covid-19 regulations. That means those performances have been moved or canceled.

    To keep informed about upcoming concerts and theater performances, it’s a good idea to sign up for newsletters from the venues listed below. Ticketmaster.nl will also notify you when upcoming event tickets are going on sale if you register for their newsletter. Most larger venues sell their event tickets through Ticketmaster.

    Eventim is another big-name ticket distributor for theater, musical, and concert tickets and even sports (horse riding, ice skating) and family events. Most theater performances will be in Dutch, but sometimes there are English subtitles, and occasionally they are with an English-speaking cast. Some performances are at the Amsterdam RAI. Cats played in the RAI Theater in 2019 and some form of Holidays on Ice is an annual event at the RAI, so there is a large variety of events available. Other theaters include the Stadsschouwburg Haarlem (English website), the Beatrix Theater in Utrecht, and Spant! in Bussum.

    Live Music in Amsterdam

    • Melkweg (1,500 capacity): A venue with multiple halls for concerts (from up-and-coming artists to famous bands), exhibitions and occasionally film and theater performances 
    • Paradiso (1,500 capacity): Mostly concerts, also occasional lectures 
    • Concertgebouw: Classical and jazz concerts as well as family concerts. There are free concerts on Wednesdays at lunchtime. 
    • The Ziggo Dome (17,000 capacity), AFAS Live (6,000 capacity) and Johan Cruijf ArenA (54,990 capacity; Ajax football [soccer] matches are played here) in Amsterdam Zuidoost are all big venues for well-known music concerts. Tickets are usually available through Ticketmaster.  

    Live Music in Other Areas


    Patronaat has live concerts and club nights on the weekends.

    Lichtfabriek sometimes has dance events.


    Cafe de Kaars is a bar/restaurant with live music on Saturday evenings.

    De Vorstin has two halls for concerts.


    Tivoli Vredenburg has several concert halls. The website has limited information in English and the agenda is in Dutch only.

    Theater and Other Stage Performances: Amsterdam

    Outside of Amsterdam

    Speeldoos Baarn has live theater performances ranging from musicals and concerts, dance and opera to cabaret and comedy. The Peking Tuin in Baarn also has an open air theater that is used for outdoor movie screenings and live music (all currently canceled due to coronavirus). The Beatrix Theater in Utrecht shows musicals, concerts and other stage performances. At the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht (City Municipal theater), you can search for performances that are labeled “language no problem.” English Theater Utrecht offers amateur theater productions in English. STET is one English-language theater company in The Hague, and another is the Anglo-American Theatre GroupStadsschouwburg & Philharmonie Haarlem has “language no problem” performances of music, dance and theater. Spant! in Bussum (agenda only in Dutch) presents a variety of performances in its large and small theaters.


    You can find a list of Amsterdam bars and clubs here (this also includes The Hague, Rotterdam and other larger cities) and here. The Haarlem Guide has a list of different types of bars (beer bars, regular bars, music bars) and nightlife.

    For comedy, there are some well-known venues in Amsterdam, such as Boom Chicago, as well as Toomler and other clubsLiveComedy.nl promotes international comedy performances at venues all around the Netherlands. You can also find nationwide comedy events listed on Ticketmaster.


    Museumkaart: Valid for one year, the The Netherlands Museum Pass (museumkaart in Dutch) gives you entry to over 400 Dutch museums. It can be purchased online (only in Dutch) or you can purchase one in many museums. You can also find information about current exhibitions and activities in museums around the country on the museum pass website. See the Haarlem Guide for a list of museums, historical monuments and statues around Haarlem.

    This is a long but not exhaustive list of entertainment options around the Netherlands. If you have any suggestions to add, please let us know!

    Looking for more? Members of the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam have access to a wealth of additional information, including web resources and a members-only Facebook group with a long archive to search and plenty of willing help.

    For more information about the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam, check out our website or drop us a note. We are an active, diverse club that welcomes new members with open arms, whether you’ve been in the Netherlands for 20 minutes or 20 years.

  • October 17, 2020 2:12 PM | Anonymous

    This article was originally written in 2018 by past president Rhonda Jimenez and was focused on Amsterdam shopping. It has been updated for 2020 by Marcie Asplin. 

    *Most of the stores mentioned have branches across the Netherlands and you can order articles from several of the others. For shopping tips beyond Amsterdam, please watch for a  more extensive article which includes information for Haarlem, Utrecht and ‘t Gooi.

    So, you’ve just arrived in Amsterdam and you have no idea where to shop for what you need. If only there was a Target! Here are some basics to help you survive without that Target or Walmart down the road, and a few go-to’s and tips to help you find what you need — fast.

    Groceries: You have probably already found Albert Heijn (AH), but did you know that they deliver? It’s so much easier than balancing your bike with a full load of groceries and then carrying it up two flights of stairs. Other grocery stores are JumboAldi and Lidl. For organic groceries, try Marqt (similar to Whole Foods, although not everything is organic but rather local, ethically-sourced or sustainable) or Ekoplaza. TIP: Many items you can’t find are usually shelved in strange locations and or have unique packaging. American peanut butter can sometimes be found in the wereldkeuken (world cuisine) aisle with Indonesian foods, not with the Dutch nut butters. Sweetened condensed milk is in the Asian food section. Evaporated milk is called koffiemelk and is found near the coffee, as is sugar (rather than the baking aisle). Bleach is called bleek (or dikbleek) and looks like toilet cleaner. Ask for help if you need it. You will slowly find everything you need.

    American Stuff: If you still can’t find what you need in the grocery chains, try Tjin’s Toko in De Pijp or Eichholtz on Leidsestraat. Both international stores charge a big premium but offer things like canned pumpkin puree, Betty Crocker cake mixes and frostings, Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms, and many other American treasures. Newer to the expat food store scene are Kelly’s Expat Shopping (also with locations in The Hague and Wassenaar) and The Junior’s, both located on Ferdinand Bolstraat in De Pijp. Make a trip to one; it’s worthwhile! There are also small international grocery stores called tokos dotted around the city. They are great for pan-Asian ingredients and may also have some American ingredients (looking at you, Arm & Hammer baking soda). If your local searches don’t unearth what you are looking for, you can try ordering online from My American Market

    Health and Beauty: EtosKruidvat and Da (drugstore is drogisterij in Dutch) are like CVS or Walgreens, except you can’t get prescriptions filled. TIP: Solid deodorants are hard to find, hydrogen peroxide (waterstofperoxide) is only sold in tiny bottles and Visine isn’t sold here, so if you use any of these regularly, you should probably stock up in the US before arriving or pick them up on a trip home. To fill prescriptions, you need to go to an apotheek (pharmacy), which you can usually spot by the neon green cross hanging outside. You will also need to register at a pharmacy so your doctor can (digitally) send your prescriptions there to be filled. You can’t just have a prescription filled at a pharmacy that happens to be closest to your location at that particular time. Holland & Barrett is classified as a drogisterij but focuses on vitamins and natural soaps/shampoos, and it has an extensive range of teas and alternative (baking) ingredients (including superfoods, vegan and gluten-free items). If you’re looking for a store like Sephora, Douglas and ICI Paris XL sell higher-end makeup, beauty supplies and perfumes/colognes.

    Home goods: Blokker has most items that you would find in a Target: supplies for cleaning, kitchen and bathroom items, small appliances (personal care and household), and some home decor. HEMA also has home and office items as well as food and clothing basics. ActionWibra and Zeeman are similar to Kmart, selling inexpensive clothing and some home/kitchen goods. Big Bazar is like the Dollar Store, as is Xenos, which also has a Pier1 feel to it.

    Appliances: MediaMarktBCC and Expert sell all things electronic — from irons to video games to TVs and refrigerators — much like Best Buy back home. They have physical stores in many locations. Coolblue (which also has 10 stores across the Netherlands), bol.com and Amazon.de are good online sources for electric appliances as well. Recently, Amazon.nl came online but their offering is still limited in comparison to Amazon.de.

    DIY stores / Garden centers: PraxisGamma and Karwei are the Home Depot equivalents; most sell garden supplies, and larger ones will have plants and flowers, too. You can search for a bouwmarkt + (the name of your city) to find the DIY store closest to you. There are also places to rent tools and equipment for building projects; Boels and Bo-Rent are two of them. There are also large garden centers around the country if you are really into plants and gardening. Search for tuincentrum + (city) for the garden center nearest you. Intratuin has several locations in Noord Holland and Tuincentrum Osdorp is one of the larger garden centers near Amsterdam. DIY stores and garden centers also sell holiday decorations as well as live and fake trees if you celebrate Christmas.

    Fashion: The trendy Nine Streets and busy Kalverstraat are always fun shopping destinations. But when it’s wet or cold, try the Stadshart mall in Amstelveen. There is a large De Bijenkorf department store in the mall. Closer to Amsterdam you’ll find the Gelderlandplein shopping center in Buitenveldert. They have free underground parking for the first 1.5 hours. 

    Furniture: Ikea is a mainstay, but stop by Loods 5 and the outlet behind it — together, they take up a full block — for a huge selection of furniture. There is also a woonmall (home furnishings mall) called Villa ArenA located near the Amsterdam ArenA — you’ll experience long waits, but also good quality custom furniture. In the Bovenkerk area of Amstelveen, there are several furniture stores to be found, including De TroubadourLeen BakerKwantum, and more. Online, try Woonexpress and Wehkamp

    Outlet Shopping: Not an outlet per se, but the T.K. Maxx discount store has arrived in the Netherlands. There are a few locations, including Osdorpplein in Amsterdam. There is also a huge outlet mall about 1.5 hours away in Lelystad, called Batavia Stad. The outlets will remind you of home, with many of the same outlets you know and love — from Nike to Michael Kors. There are other similar outlet malls in Roermond and Roosendaal, as well as Maasmechelen Village in Belgium. 

    School Supplies: HEMA and Gebroeders Winter have stores all over the Netherlands. Big stores like Office Depot do exist (OfficeCentre is one) but you need to have your own business to become a customer. 

    Sporting Goods: If you’ve got kids, or are a sporty person yourself, chances are you’ll need sporting goods of some kind. You can find shoes, clothing and equipment for various sports at places like DecathlonIntersportSport2000 and BristolHockey District in Amsterdam and Special Sports in Amstelveen specialize in field hockey equipment and also carry clothing for some clubs. Voetbalshop.nl is a great place to find football basics online, and your (child’s) club may get their uniforms from there as well. If you are a runner, Runnersworld has stores in Amstelveen, Bussum and Utrecht (among others), and Run2day has stores in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Hilversum and Utrecht. Bever, with stores across the Netherlands, is the place to look for your hiking and camping needs. You can also shop for those things online at Trekkinn or A.S. Adventure.

    Second-hand Shopping: If reducing, reusing and recycling is more your style, there are lots of places to find second-hand goods. A thrift store is a kringloopwinkel in Dutch. A second-hand (children’s) clothing store is a tweedehands (kinder)kledingwinkel, some of which are consignment shops. There is a list of stores in central Amsterdam and, to find a second-hand store near you, check Alle Kringloopwinkels. There are also consignment shops in Amsterdam Zuid that offer designer clothing, like Mooi and Freddy’s. For children’s clothes and toys, you can try Lino & MoosJunJun and Kids & Queens (which also has some women’s clothes). Boomerang in Amstelveen has clothing and accessories at one location, and another location a few blocks away sells furniture and home goods. Rataplan is a large thrift shop which has household goods, appliances, clothing and furniture. They have three locations around Amsterdam. If you are moving and have things to donate, they will come and pick it up by appointment (there is often a wait for pick-ups, so book your appointment in advance!). Online, Marktplaats is a cross between Craigslist and eBay; you can find almost anything you need or want there (also from businesses)! While plenty of items are offered by genuine, individual sellers, there are also some dishonest people selling items there, so it is better to (agree to) buy something you can collect in person so you can check that it’s legitimate (certainly for big-ticket items like secondhand phones). There is also Facebook marketplace, where you can set your location and then search based on a certain distance to find items you want in your area.

    Good luck on your next shopping adventure: you will survive! Remember, look carefully — and you can probably find it!


  • April 27, 2020 1:56 PM | Anonymous

    By Meredith Mani

    These days, everyone is trying to stretch the supplies they have on hand. People are baking their own bread, looking online for recipes that use canned goods, and finding hacks to get around missing ingredients like yeast. The Greatest Generation — the one of our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers — pioneered these skills during the Depression and in periods of shortages during WWI and WWII.

    What can we learn from these wise women and apply to our life now? When resources are scarce and time is plentiful, there is actually a wide variety of things you can do. Here is a short list. What can you add to help out our members?

    1. Regrow your grocery scraps. Seriously, this is easy and is much faster than starting from seed. There are two types of scraps you can regrow: tops and bottoms. Bottoms include celery, bok choy, romaine, spring onions, fennel, leeks and garlic. Tops include beets, carrots, radish and turnips. The principal for both is the same: Cut or leave the veggie with 1-3 inches intact, fill a small jar or bowl with 1 inch of water and place the top or bottom in it, and put in a sunny space, like a windowsill. Then all you need to do is change the water every day. You are now growing your own food and reducing food waste.
    2. Get creative. No yeast to be found? Sourdough to the rescue. It takes a week to start but then you have all the rise you need to bake everything from English muffins to baguettes. You can also make bread with beer or bake a cake with Coca Cola. If you do have some yeast, stretch your supply by making a Poolish (also called pouliche, a bread starter) from 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, ¾ cup room temp water and ¼ teaspoon yeast. Mix in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and wait 12 hours. the mixture will then have the lift of a full package of yeast. Remember to subtract the flour used in the Poolish from the recipe you’re using it in.
    3. Start a Corona victory garden. Many veggies are easy to grow in pots on a balcony or rooftop. Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers are the easiest. Save your old egg cartons and either sow directly in soil in each cup of the carton or put soil in an empty and clean eggshell half and then put in the carton. Water as needed until your sprout is a few inches high. Then you can easily replant in a pot in the garden by either cutting around the carton and planting each cup or by delicately transferring the individual eggshell halves, cracking the shell lightly as you plant. Eggshells provide the added bonus of feeding the roots as the plant grows. More start-a-garden tips from NPR!
    4. Waste not, want not. Grab a big zip top bag and start slowly filling it up with vegetable scraps and peels and herbs to make your own broth. Throw in onion skins and tops, carrots and celery that’s wilted, thyme that has gone off-color, those itty-bitty cloves of garlic in the middle of the bulb that are impossible to peel, and even chicken bones. Keep it in the freezer until the bag is almost full and then toss it all in a medium-sized pot along with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar if you have bones in the broth; simmer for several hours. Let cool and then strain. Freeze in pint size bags and/or ice cubes trays. Ice cube size broth is perfect to throw into rice or add to a recipe that just calls for a little. If, for some crazy reason, you have leftover bits of wine, these also freeze nicely in ice cube trays and are great for adding to a recipe that needs a splash of wine.
    5. Repurpose glass jars. Glass jars can be used as containers, drinking glasses, pretty votive holders on the porch, or storage containers for nails. I like to use them to make quick jars of pickles or small batches of jams. Save your orange and citrus peels and you can make an easy marmalade to store and use in the refrigerator — no pectin required.
    6. Extend, extend, extend. Make the most of your meat by extending it. Add diced potatoes or a can of black beans to taco meat. Lentils or oatmeal can easily be added to meatloaf or meatballs to stretch a meal. Give new life to old food by bringing back Sunday Soup. To make this soup, put all your leftovers and odds-and-ends veggies into a pot, add a can of tomatoes and some spices, maybe even some rice and noodles, and you have a delicious dinner and a clean refrigerator. Remember: THE MOST EXPENSIVE FOOD IS THE FOOD YOU THROW AWAY.
    7. Make it at home. Sure, this is true for food but there are also lots of personal care items you can whip up in your kitchen. You can make dry shampoo, hand sanitizer, room spray and multi-purpose counter spray at home using simple ingredients like corn starch, essential oils and white vinegar. While you’re at it, stretch your soaps by adding a little water to the bottle when they are 1/3 of the way down. Today’s products are highly concentrated, so you won’t lose effectiveness but you’ll gain many more uses.
    8. Wear an apron. You realize you have now officially become your mother, right? I know, I know, but wearing an apron while you are cooking or doing messy tasks will keep your clothing from getting stained.

    We all need to be creative throughout the home and in our kitchen to help family members adjust to being quarantined. Thankfully, as expats, we have had to learn to adjust before and are all the stronger for it. There are no tricks or hacks for the mental fortitude it takes to get through an event like we are currently living though. Reach out to friends and family through FaceTime or Zoom to stay connected. Ask for help when you need it and know you are not in this alone. AWCA women have always taken inspiration from the women who went before us. They have handled wars and crises and upheaval we can’t even imagine. But they stayed strong and relied on each other to get through while they were far from home. You got this.

  • March 30, 2020 1:57 PM | Anonymous

    As part of the AWCA's efforts to encourage physical distancing, flattening the curve, and staying safe and healthy, we are sharing our favorite local food and grocery ordering resources. We have a Google form where you can submit your best ideas, and an always up-to-date list of those responses.

    Don't forget our Benefit Partners and your fellow members! There are lots of great food and drink products on these pages, and supporting them supports us:

  • March 19, 2020 2:05 PM | Anonymous

    by Dr. Anisha Abraham

    How are you adjusting to social distancing, school closures, home offices, lockdowns and toilet paper shortages? If the onslaught of memes and cartoons are any indication, the last few weeks have been difficult for many families holed up at home! Here are a few tips to help kids to cope with the unfolding uncertainties and challenges of COVID-19.

    1. Maintain routines. Maintaining routines and schedules can provide children and teens a sense of stability. There are good online tools for creating a schedule for school-age kids. In our house, we made schedules with our tweens, which include online school hours, mealtimes, exercise, piano practice, small chores and free time. Of course, we had our share of drama and eye-rolling, but it does provide a rough guide for the day. For teens, consider their need for independence and creating their own path for learning, but also encourage them to take time away from media use, get physical activity and break large assignments into smaller ones. Finally, a reminder to parents-manage your expectations. Your child or teen may not be working at the same pace or intensity as a regular school day. Acknowledge this, as hard as it may be to do. 
    2. Empower kids to be responsible. Remind children and teens that they can protect themselves and others by practicing proper hand washing, sneezing into your elbow and maintaining social distancing. What we have seen is that children and teens may not get as sick as adults but can still transmit the virus to the elderly (over 60 years) or those who have chronic illnesses. By ensuring our kids use social distancing, we help decrease the total number of infections. What is social distancing? In our house, it means that there are no friends over and we don’t visit friends. If they do meet a friend outdoors to bike or kick a ball, they need to keep about 6 feet away. They are allowed to use the phone, skype or Whatsapp to connect with others. This all may seem tough to enforce, especially with teens. Still, it is ultimately our obligation as parents to teach social behavior and to keep our kids and our community healthy.
    3. Discuss information based on age. Realize that many kids are curious about what’s happening, and issues are changing by the hour. My kids, for example, are very interested in the daily statistics for COVID-19 rates by country and often check this John Hopkins site. Discuss what’s happening in an age-appropriate way. ​This may mean avoiding having adult-level conversations around small kids while talking about public health strategies and recent research studies with older ones. Also, knowing that constant social media updates can increase stress levels so encouraging kids to back off on news streams if they are feeling irritable, anxious or depressed.
    4. Build on strengths and allow boredom. Every child has strengths and interests, whether it is music, arts, science, writing and so on. Building on their strengths helps kids develop resilience and handle challenges. One of my son’s friends is an excellent illustrator and is spending some time each day drawing elaborate cartoon strips. For a teen that loves coding or math, try Khan Academy. For kids that enjoy being with animals- try zoos around the world such as the Smithsonian that have live cams. For those who enjoy the arts and want to create their own masterpiece, try a virtual tour of a museum to get inspired. Finally, how many of you have heard the phrase, “I’m bored” at home recently? Remember allowing a little boredom is a great way to promote creativity and self-sufficiency.
    5. Embrace uncertainty and start dreaming big. Research shows that kids don’t need to have a linear path to succeed. In fact, those with a slightly squiggly journey end up doing better in life. This is a great time to move beyond what has been planned and do some creative brainstorming on how to redirect and move on. Did the family trip get cancelled? If so, what is on your bucket list for your next adventure? Did the final term of high school or university just get cut short? How can you navigate the next steps? Do you have a cool idea for a short story, or a community service project? How can you start it now?
    6. Emphasize kindness and caring. Unfortunately, some communities have been the target of unkind remarks and even outright racism as a result of coronavirus. Encourage kids to continue to be kind to all people, regardless of where they are from or what they look like. Also, think of ways to give back to your community and provide outreach: for example, helping a neighbor that is elderly, donating items, to a food bank or buying gift certificates to support a local business.
    7. Model positive behaviors. Kids learn from adults as to how to react in new situations. We need to model positive ways to stay healthy and handle uncertainty, including exercising regularly, eating healthy foods to boost immunity and staying connected with loved ones. In our house, we pulled out the board games (Pandemic, anyone?), scheduled a virtual dinner with friends, created a Netflix list and are having regular calls with family around the globe. If possible, get outdoors and bike, run, hike or walk as a family. If that doesn’t work, try striking a few yoga poses or doing a mindfulness app at home. Finally, adults need to limit their media use around coronavirus and ensure devices stay out of bedrooms at night.
    8. Look out for warning signs. Changes in eating or sleep habits, increased irritability or sadness, the inability to get off devices, or the need for constant reassurance can be signs that kids may be struggling and need support. Try talking things out or getting another adult or mentor to be involved. If these don’t help, it may be time to reach out to your health provider or a counselor for additional help. Keeping with the times, many are providing telephone and electronic consults.

    What is happening around us with COVID-19 can be scary and difficult for kids and adults. Hopefully, with creating routines, encouraging social distancing, having developmentally-based discussions and building on their natural strengths, we can support our kids at home. In addition, don’t forget the importance of embracing uncertainty, modeling kindness and positive self-care skills as parents while looking out for signs of depression and anxiety. Stay safe and calm!    

    For more tips:

    Parenting during coronavirus: What to know about play dates, education and more

    Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus

    7 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety

    A List of Indoor Activities That Will Keep Kids Entertained at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak


    Dr. Anisha Abraham is a pediatrician and teen health specialist based in Amsterdam, NL, and on faculty at both the University of Amsterdam and Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.  She works with teens, parents, and educators globally, using her 25 years of experience as a practicing clinician, researcher, and health educator. Her book Raising Global Teens: Parenting in the 21st Century will be released this autumn in local bookstores and on Amazon. For more information, see https://dranishaabraham.com/.


  • March 18, 2020 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    or, How to Stay Sane During a Pandemic

    by Kate Spaulding

    Friends, neighbors, countrypeople, this is an unprecedented time in our world. We know some of what we have to do: wash our hands, physically distance ourselves from each other, wash our hands, limit grocery runs, be kind to ourselves and our community, wash our hands, and work together. But we're also learning to navigate working from home (sometimes for the first time), cooking more, battling cabin fever, and managing kids who aren't in school. It's times like these that demonstrate the strength of our communities and adaptability of the human race. You're not in this alone.

    To that end, we're rounding up resources to help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Do you have more great ideas? Please, add them to the conversation in the AWCA Facebook Group!

    Working from Home

    • 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You
    • How to Work From Home the Right Way
    • The most important thing is to have a routine - it can be the same for 5 days a week and then slightly different for 2 days a week - like that you can try to keep a similar rhythm to normal (whatever that is). Don't be afraid to do things that use to seem stupid - move furniture away from walls so you can walk around rooms completely. Create different spaces in your home so that it is clear what happens where to support routines - this is the play corner - or we play when we put this out etc. This is the eating time. This is quit time. Create virtual community groups - there are other people out there that you know with small children that can organise whatsapp singing a longs or reading stories etc. But ROUTINE and virtual communities will save you! --from Aine Markham via Facebook
    • The Remote Work Mega Guide
    • How to Work from Home Like a Boss


    Especially for Parents




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