Safer-At-Home is a Learning Experience

When safer-at-home orders began, our household entered the same state of chaos that many readers experienced – suddenly becoming teachers while also trying to do our jobs.

The week we were due to start the grand adventure, I asked my colleagues a simple
question one afternoon: Should I be documenting this whole thing for posterity?

From that, the Sheltered Diaries were born, publishing almost daily on

From the first entry on March 23, I’ve talked about my son’s (a third-grader we refer to as Tiny) opinion on things, ways we’re beating the cabin fever, and even great conversations with Sisters of Red Erin Duvall and Molly Duvall Thomas and Momentous Institute executive director Jessica Trudeau.

The first entry had Tiny telling us that he was “not in the mood” to get COVID-19. His journal entry that day gutted me: “I miss my friends. I miss my teacher. I miss my school.”

But a month later, we had a conversation about how things were going.

Me: What do you think about having to stay at home?

Tiny: “Oh, it’s pretty much fine. I like getting to spend more time with you guys, and I like having more time to play. But I can’t go anywhere that much, and I miss my friends a lot.”

Me: What is one thing that surprised you during all of this?

Tiny: “I didn’t think my birthday would be so fun, but it was fun to be with you guys all day and to have a virtual birthday party. I still want a real one, though, so don’t think you’re not going to do that or something.”

Me: What’s one thing you would like to tell everyone?

Tiny: “Stay home so everyone can keep from getting sick, and then we can all go out again and create mayhem.”

Me: What are some things kids can do around the house to help keep people safe from COVID-19?

Tiny: “I wipe down the doorknobs, the remote controls, the Xbox controllers, and the light switches every day. I do it for money because nothing is free in this world. I have over $100 now.”

With the diary, I hope we’ve also let everyone know that we’re not homeschool masters. We’ve shared the anxieties, the tears, the days when nothing went right (March 31: “The wheels on the bus fell off today, off today, off today, The wheels on the bus fell off today, so Mom hit the sauce”) and the days where nearly almost everything went right.

I’ve also written about the pivoting you have to do to help a child with special needs (Tiny is on the autism spectrum) navigate a whole host of things – anxiety, disruptions to schedules, general irritation with his completely uncool parents, and more.

We’ve learned a lot, and I’m sure you have, too, over the past couple of months – including that I like my family a lot, even when we’re all angry about math.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at

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