Family living during the coronavirus pandemic

From a yoga-inspired workout routine to how to speak with your kids about the virus

Shani Blatt and Mia Kroll (photo credit: TOM PELLEG/QUICKSHOT)
Shani Blatt and Mia Kroll
(photo credit: TOM PELLEG/QUICKSHOT)
COVID-19 has already destroyed so much in our personal lives, our country and the world at large. Coping with the new normal isn’t easy, even for the lucky ones whose biggest problem is having too much free time. But devastating situations are an opportunity to build and grow. We spoke with experts from a variety of fields to get home workout inspiration, advice on speaking with our kids about the virus (and how to help them burn off energy without tearing down the house!), how artificial intelligence will impact our education system, and the lowdown on an enjoyable way to support the Israeli economy (read: wine).
Yoga-inspired home workout
Take advantage of this rare off time to partake in a yoga-inspired workout created by personal and group fitness trainer Maya Katzir. Designed to sculpt long, lean lines while being low impact, do each move for 45 seconds. Then, rest for 15 seconds. Do the moves as a circuit and repeat the circuit three times, taking a one-minute rest between each round.
Half-Bridge: This is a great exercise for glute activation (read: butt lift!) without putting pressure on knees. It also strengthens the lower back. Start by lying flat on the ground with your hands by your side, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor under your knees. Tighten your abs and butt muscles by pushing your low back into the ground and then pushing up, raising your hips to create a straight line from knees to shoulders. If you can’t hold this for 45 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat when ready.
Chair Pose: This full-body move is a variation of a basic squat. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Lower your thighs as you lift your arms, creating a straight line with your back. If you can’t hold this for 45 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat when ready.
Dynamic Three-Leg Down Dog: This move will not only stretch, but also strengthen your back, hamstrings, calves and shoulders. Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders and toes tucked. Push your hips up and back, straightening your legs. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and engage your core by pulling your stomach towards your spine as you lift one leg up. Hold three seconds before bringing your body into a plank position with the knee of the raised leg reaching for your nose. Alternate legs, taking rests as needed.
Boat Pose: This is a wonderful exercise to build strength in your abs. Begin seated with your knees bent, feet flat, and hands beside your hips. Keeping your spine straight, lean back slightly and lift your feet bringing your shins parallel to the floor. Draw in your low back, lift your chest, and lengthen the front of your torso. Then, extend your arms forward in line with your shoulders with your palms facing up. If you can’t hold this for 45 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat when ready. You can also hold your thighs with your hands or place your heels on the ground to modify.
Harness your children’s energy at home
Many working parents lament that they don’t get to spend enough time with their children, but right about now many of those same ones are starting to feel like they’re spending too much time. Despite the chaos and unknown, it’s important to keep kids on a schedule, especially if they will have online schooling and homework. Kids do best when on a schedule – and that includes a schedule for “fun time.” We turned to Heather Gunn Rivera, co-founder of Grassroots Fitness Project, to get her tips for energy-busting, kid-friendly activities.
Have a dance party: Create a fun playlist that runs 10 minutes and have the kids dance the entire time.
Sign up for a kids or family virtual fitness class: There are plenty of options from hiring a local trainer to customize a workout via Zoom to free workouts via YouTube and Instagram. Shani Blatt (@shani.blatt), who specializes in workouts for all ages, also has a YouTube channel, Star Coach, that she continuously will be populating with workout and nutrition videos for kids.
Time them to clean up their rooms: The child who cleans the best and the fastest wins and gets an award.
Send them on a scavenger hunt: Have them find household items like a blow-dryer, a spoon, a basketball, etc.
Work on projects: This can be anything from puzzles to tackling a home project.
Talk about COVID-19 with your kids
As conversations everywhere center around COVID-19, children may worry about themselves and their loved ones. It’s important to not act like an alarmist.
“Children sense parental anxiety and internalize this, which can lead them to become nervous and sad,” says founder of Gramercy Pediatrics, Dr. Dyan Hes. “Remember that for many children, they went from a busy life of school or daycare, play groups, sports, and bike riding to almost complete confinement. This is a dramatic change for them.”
Hes recommends that parents tune down the severity of the disease with smaller children who really don’t understand what coronavirus is.
“Some kids think it’s a monster, some think it’s a ghost-like virus, and some kids are afraid to touch anything from fear of catching it.
This is because they hear adults talking. Adults often have the news on in the background, sometimes all day. Children hear this. Kids may also feel guilty thinking that they ‘can kill their grandparent.’ Be very careful what you say around children.”
Of course, with older children you can have a more intellectual conversation and explain why you cannot allow them to have a playdate or go to the movies.
“They may be mad and pout, but for the majority, they will listen,” says Hes.
Teenagers can be a whole other story because they often feel invincible.
“This is when a more serious talk may be needed. They need to know that many children are asymptomatic, but can bring home the virus and infect many other people. If older people or sick people are exposed, this virus can be fatal to them.”
Hes recommends speaking about being part of a community and how they have to do their part for the overall health of the public. Reassure them that the virus is not dangerous to healthy children.
No matter what ages your children are, Hes says it’s very important to discuss the future and how when the epidemic passes they will go back to school and their friends. “They need to have hope that their lives will normalize.”
Get excited about the future of AI learning
Due to the recent circumstances, we’re seeing a shift towards remote learning. One thing seems inevitable: school settings, as they stand today, will change.
“Online and remote learning, we believe, will be systems that educational institutions will adopt for future emergencies,”says Elnaz Sarraf, creator of Roybi Robot, an AI (artificial intelligence)-powered educational robot  children.
“We envision a future where the new culture of learning begins at home through devices with sophisticated AI technology. As the cost of living, attending school, and even the cost of commuting to school rises, AI-powered tools can help children, schools and educators by providing content remotely. AI allows educators to follow the child’s progress in a smarter way and provides a personalized approach to every child,” says Sarraf.
With uncertainties around school closures, many educators have already started remote learning, but lack of personalization and progress tracking has been a major challenge.
“The role of AI becomes even more significant for a modern world, as it can monitor each child individually and provide feedback to educators more accurately than traditional approaches,” says Sarraf. “We envision a future where AI can democratize education across the globe by connecting learners, educators and parents through technology and cultural immersion.”
Temper coronavirus panic with Israeli wine
When governments around the world included liquor stores as an essential service permitted to stay open, it set off firestorms online. This decision, however, is not about supporting alcohol habits, it’s about supporting small businesses that can be carried out with low risk. For those in a position to do so, now is the time to support local Israeli options.
“Israel produces a wealth of wines from distinct regions throughout the country, utilizing a myriad of grape varieties,” says Gillian Sciaretta of Wine Spectator. “Overall, quality is consistent and the next generation of winemakers is aiming higher, finding ways to set the wines of Israel apart including bringing back indigenous grapes from near extinction.”
Unless it’s for religious reasons, Elizabeth Erickson, founder of Israeli Good Wine, suggests looking for wines that aren’t kosher mevushal – meaning “boiled,” which some consider essential for kosher wine to be handled by non-Jews. “The wine is slightly hampered, though I do drink and enjoy mevushal wines as well.”
So, what should we pop open while in quarantine? Kobi Aroussi, the restaurant manager and sommelier at Six Senses Shaharut, opening later this year in the Negev, highlights some standouts.
Best Value: Blanc de Blanc, Golan Heights Winery 2012 (kosher). “This sparkling wine made from chardonnay grapes grown in the cool mountains of the Golan Heights is light bodied, floral, and has refreshing acidity. Enjoy it any time of day.”
Best White: White Concepts Sauvignon Blanc, Sphera 2019 (not kosher). “Situated in Judea, the winery produces white wines only. As the days get warmer, there’s not much better than this fresh, crisp, and mineral sauvignon blanc.”
Best Red: Wild Carignan, Recanati 2016 (kosher). “Grown in a 20-year-old-plus unirrigated vineyard situated in the slopes of the Judean Hills, this wine best expresses Recanti’s mission to define Israeli wine at its best. This is a great option with a meat-based dinner.”
Best Rose: Rose, Nana Winery 2019 (not kosher). “This pick from a winery situated in the middle of the Negev expresses great balance of acidity, fruit-forward, and just enough mid-palate to be enjoyed with or without food.”
L’haim to keeping mentally and physically healthy while heeding the new regulations about staying at home.