Minnesota families focus on well-being amid COVID-19 outbreak

Arin Rasmusson couldn’t keep from laughing as she and her 1-year-old son tried to maneuver a kite on a windy Sunday in Como Park.

"Getting out, you feel like you’re less exposed to things, back in nature," said Rasmusson’s husband, Rafael Lister. "Seems like a good way to reset."

For this family, a kite-flying outing is the ideal therapy for dealing with the pressures and concerns of COVID-19.

"Yeah, I feel people are anxious," Rasmusson says quietly.

Anxious, not just about the coronavirus disease but also its ever-invasive presence — hour-by-hour, even moment-by-moment — in our lives.

Disruptions due to COVID-19 outbreak

"I think that’s the biggest thing, the fear of the unknown," Lister said. "If I knew everything was over in two weeks, I’m probably good with what we have. If it kind of drags for six months, you kind of feel like you might hit shortages or something like that."

"I am purposefully putting away my phone and not looking at that because I feel like there’s almost too much information coming out," Rasmusson added.

The St. Paul couple says their chief concern is the safety of their boys, 1-year-old Iver and 4-year-old Alex. Add to that the complications of school closings and trying to find family activities in a newly restricted world.

"Finding things to do with the Children’s Museum closed and all kinds of other entertainments shuttered, it’s hard finding things to do," Rasmusson said. "We have an incredibly active 4-year-old boy, so just keeping him entertained and having the house somewhat in order is being really difficult."

Megan Sigmon-Olsen, a St. Paul-based therapist, and a parent herself, knows those challenges all too well.

"Well, schools are closed, so how do you work from home, be productive? Having your children at home … you can’t really ship them off to grandma and grandpa’s," she says.

Sigmon-Olsen agrees it’s vital for parents to get current, accurate information about the virus.

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But she says it’s also important to take good care of yourself and your family during this stressful time.

"Enjoy some family time, cook some meals, and just kind of slow down and take care of yourself," Sigmon-Olsen advised. "The best thing parents can do is be planful. If you’re not planful, then you’re reacting to kids being cooped up and stressed out and crying, and you’re upset. Doesn’t go well."

She says it’s a good idea to focus on your family, take time off from social media and make a conscious effort to give yourself time to relax.

"Taking walks, going to the park a little bit. We’ve been trying to do yard projects around here," Sigmon-Olsen said. "Downshift your life."

Rasmusson says she’s trying to do just that: maintain awareness on her family’s health while trying to not obsess on the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I am trying to distance myself from that," she says. " Just trying to enjoy time with the kids."