housesDr. Corinne Masur

Our past few posts have been positive: great podcasts for kids and teens, resources for parents staying at home with their children, that sort of thing.

But today it feels like time to write a different kind of post.

Parents who I “see” (online) in my “office” (house) have been saying things to me like, “I just had to get out of the house so I went to the store to buy some bread” or “I’ve been babysitting for my niece while school is out so I thought it would be alright to have dinner with her parents and a friend of theirs.”

Staying home is hard. For everyone. People who live alone are feeling incredibly isolated; people who live with their families are feeling incredibly suffocated; children are missing their friends; teenagers are crawling out of their skins not being able to hang out with each other. We have never been through anything like this and it’s hard to know what to do or how to handle this.

But…..we have to.

Recently a lecturer in epidemiology at Yale, Jonathan Smith, wrote the following: Continue reading

Great Podcasts for Kids and Teens


For Little Kids: Little Kids:

A Big List of Podcasts for Little Kids – The New York Times

My son’s podcast addiction began when he was 2, with “The Gingerbread Man.” He was hooked at first listen and asked to hear it constantly. Eventually, I could recite the entire story …


For kids of all ages:

The 25 Best Podcasts for Kids | Common Sense Media

Entertaining, informative, and kid-friendly podcasts for bedtime, road trips, and more. Best part? They’re screen-free. Advice from Common Sense Media editors.


For Teens:

The Best Podcasts for Teens: 11 Programs They Will Actually Listen To – SheKnows

If you’re stuck at home self-isolating with teens, you may be ready to rip your hair out right about now. Because in between all that Zoom school work, you trying to get your own shit done, and …

Enforced Togetherness

photo-1576089073624-b5751a8f4de9Dr. Corinne Masur

One of the hardest things about this pandemic, other than the anxiety it creates, is the forced home stay. Couples who aren’t used to spending long stretches of time together are suddenly together 24/7. Parents who have never even considered home schooling are having to do just that. Children who are used to the structure and routine of school are home all day, where the refrigerator is always available and where they can say “NO!” in a way they’d never dare to with their teacher.

Nerves can fray. Anger is coming up between partners, between children and parents, between siblings.

It’s extremely hard: There is literally no way to completely take a break from each other for more than a short time.

How to survive?

Here are a few suggestions.  If you have others, please let us know! Continue reading

Helpful Links for All of Us

We compiled a list of links for everyone staying home these days, including parents, kids, teens, people working from home, bosses, and just plain people:

For all of us:

For those working from home:

For Parents:

For Teens and Parents of Teens

Continue reading

What To Do When School Is Out

photo-1476703993599-0035a21b17a9Dear Parents,

What a strange new world we are living in! This is a tough time for all of us. There’s the worry about Coronavirus, the questions about how to stay safe, and the reality of school and office closures amongst so many other things.

How do we adapt to these new and ever changing circumstances?

How do we manage the anxiety and the terror within ourselves and within our loved ones – especially our children?

No one likes change, and the changes in our lives right now are just enormous.

We’d like to suggest some ideas for dealing with suddenly having children home from school for those of you who have experienced school closures.

And going forward we’ll be posting about other aspects of life as we try to manage during this Coronavirus epidemic.

Below you will find some resources and ideas for what to do during the time that your children are not able to attend school.

No one way of dealing with this unprecedented situation will work for every family – we must all experiment and see what works for us and for each of our children – but perhaps some of these ideas will be helpful right now.  We’ll post new suggestions regularly during the next few months.

  • As you have undoubtedly heard, it’s best to stay at home and to forgo play dates or teen hangouts. This will be hard for your children AND for you! Your children will complain.  They will be angry. TRY not to take this personally.  Try to remember that when you set these limits you are doing the BEST thing for your child – whether they agree or not.

  • Everyone needs a break from each other now and then.  Everyone needs to be with friends– and in this situation, creativity and patience will be needed to figure out how to meet everyone’s social needs without having direct contact and, quite frankly, just how to stay sane at home!
  • Create a schedule. Some children and some adults can handle long stretches of unstructured time, but most cannot. Write on a big piece of paper or poster board what each person’s schedule will be and post in their room. Schedule meal times, snack times, school work times, rest/alone times, exercise times, clean up the house time, reading/story time, computer time, and online friend time.

  • Everyone in the house will need special social time. You as parents need time to meet with friends online (have coffee or a drink together!), so schedule a chat though FaceTime or Zoom at least once a day.

  • Each child in the house should also have online time to meet with friends,  Even small children can do online hangouts with their friends. Children ages 3-6 will need parental supervision in order to stay focussed on talking with their friends, of course.  They can also draw and show each other their drawings and other creations.  You can talk to their parents while this going on as well.

  • Also, schedule daily online chats with family, especially older family members. This will be fun for your children AND good for your older relatives. Have your young children make a drawing or Lego creation or whatever they like to show when they chat with others.

  • Make sure everyone pitches in to keep the house clean and organized. Make it fun.  Put on the music for a half hour of clean up time once or twice a day and clean all common areas and dance, sing, etc.  Or for your teen, let them wear their head phones and listen to whatever they want while they work.

  • Start a few projects and make time each day to engage in them.  Each child can have a special project they do with a parent and/or there can be a family project. For example:

    – Order seeds and start a garden. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can grow some flowers or herbs or veggies in pots.  Or if you have a yard, dig up part of it and do a little each day to get it ready, plant the seeds, water them, and watch it grow.

    – You will think this is crazy – but – consider getting a new pet.  You and your children have time to take care of it, train it, etc. now that you are home. One family profiled on NPR got chickens after school was cancelled for Covid 19 and have been enjoying taking care of them, gathering the eggs, and making things with the fresh eggs.

    – Learn something new! Each member of the family can choose their own new thing and practice it each day – a new language, a new instrument, a new art form.

    – Cook with the kids.  Each day can be a new cooking project. Make bread if your grocery still has yeast (mine does not – I think a LOT of people are baking!) or make muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies – or just make lunch or dinner, for that matter. Kids usually like to cook and can start helping as early as 3 or 4.

  • See below and take advantage of these online possibilities. Every parent will need a few hours a day to themselves during this time – in ADDITION to any work being done from home. Take time to read something other than the news, do an online exercise or yoga class, learn to meditate or just watch a show.  NO guilt!

Live Free Concert of Sephardic Music:

Continue reading

The On Demand Life

andrew-neel-fkalryO4dUI-unsplashDr. Corinne Masur

These days, everything is on demand.  If you want to watch a movie or a TV show, it’s right there, right now.  If you want coffee, you can get it any time in any flavor– or an easy dinner, call Caviar – or if you want a ride, well, you know what to do.

It used to be that if you wanted coffee, you’d have had to remember to buy a can of ground coffee at the store and you’d have to make it in your percolator and wait for it to finish before you got a cup.  Or if you wanted to watch a show, you had to be in front of the TV at the time it came on.

And while we are used to all this convenience, and we love it, it also takes a toll.

We have SO much choice now – instead of doing the work we said we were going to do at home, we can watch a movie, a cooking show, a comedy series.  You might have thought I was going to say that all this on demand was making us lazy but what I am going to say is this: it requires MORE self-discipline than ever.  It actually requires us to be able to say NO to ourselves more often than we used to.  The discipline was more built-in when we had finish dinner by 7 if we wanted to watch our show, or when we had to make coffee at home if we wanted some.  Now we have to discipline ourselves.  And it isn’t easy.

This goes for our children as well.

As a child psychologist, I’ve had innumerable kids in my office talking about how they just can’t get off YouTube to do their homework.  They want to – they know they should – but they just can’t stop.  There is one funny video after another after another, and turning off the computer is their job and it’s hard.  Homework isn’t as appealing as one more video…

When kids only had TV to watch, they often did their homework in their rooms or at the kitchen table – where there was no TV.  The temptation to watch something was not there every minute.  Or, if it was, it was harder to sneak over to the TV and turn it on before the homework was done without someone noticing. Now, they have to do at least some of their work ON their computers – and YouTube is just one click away.  And they have ear buds, so no one really knows WHAT they’re doing when it looks like they’re doing homework. The discipline, the self control, has to be within them. And it’s SO hard to develop that.

I don’t think we as a society, or we, as parents, have caught up yet with the difficulties of the on demand life.  How NOT to watch?  How NOT to eat or drink too much.  It’s always there.

How do we help our children develop the self-discipline to not watch or not eat or not stop doing homework too soon before it’s done or to go to sleep when the phone is right there and the friends are still on the group chat.  It’s hard.

We need to help our children first by encouraging the focused attention we want them to develop.  We have to provide some structure and some monitoring in the years before they have internalized the structure and the self-monitoring. But that is how it works: children take in the rules and the structures provided for them when they’re young.  As they mature, they become increasing able to self-structure and self-monitor. We need to help them to do this by insisting that they stick to some rules in the beginning and then by encouraging them to do more and more on their own using their own self-discipline!

Here are a few brief ideas to begin the process:

  • Impose some structure on your children’s phone and computer use during homework time.
  • Don’t leave the choice up to them. For example, up to age 15 or so, you can insist that they put the phone in a centrally located basket during homework time and after a certain time at night.
  • Have your children – through high school age – do their homework in a centrally located spot where you can casually walk by and SEE what’s on their screen from time to time.  This may seem intrusive but again, kids need help NOT distracting themselves during homework time.
  • If your child just cannot get off YouTube to finish their homework, offer to sit with them while they work or do your own work in the room where they’re doing their homework. You can be a reminder that it is not Youtube time.  And try to stay off your own phone during this time.  Read a book or a magazine or make dinner while they work.
  • Some parents even set up a “study hall” time at home for an hour before dinner and an hour or two after dinner.  Everyone does homework then and parental controls are set on any computers used for gaming for those times.

Let us know what has worked at your house!


Mom Friends

pexels-photo-1655329Tejal Toprani, LCSW

Mom friends? Who friends? What are those? Are mom friends just people you end up standing next to at the park while your kids play?

True to my assertive (aggressive?) personality, I’ve approached moms in public places who look seemingly normal and have kids about the same age as mine and asked for their number to schedule a play date. This however, has never happened to me.

I also tend to forget why I have someone’s number. Especially, when I look at my phone later and it says “red sweater woman at park son likes trucks.”

Much has been written about the topic of mom friends – but I have one question: Do the moms who need friends even have time to read about the importance of mom friends?

I practice the philosophy that friends – both mom friends and other friends – is a numbers game. This comes from all the moving I’ve done over the last decade. Continue reading