From Groceries to Babysitting, Life Tips for Getting Through This

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KQED staff share shelter-in-place tips: Baking sourdough, renting digital books and Zoom-calling family. (Tommaso Urli/Unsplash)

When the shelter-in-place orders came down, life as we knew it in the Bay Area changed. Getting groceries and taking care of loved ones became a whole new adventure, and for a lot of us, it's meant huge adjustments.

As the weeks have gone on, some of us have come up with new strategies for finding flour, free entertainment and even babysitting.

Here are some collected tips from the KQED staff on how we're making things work during this difficult time:

Connecting with Family

Lisa Pickoff-White, data journalist, senior producer, KQED News
Perhaps you need to make dinner, do some work or are locked in a bathroom for two hours? Often before dinner and sometimes during an emergency I've called family on their favorite video chat app so they can read, sing or play with my toddler. He'll sit through piles of books and anything musical. Friends can also show off their pets!

Sasha Khokha, host, The California Report Magazine
My parents do one hour of Zoom with my kids every day from L.A. They play bingo, do word searches, drawing time, virtual chess and more. My parents have even learned how to share screens on zoom to do virtual museum tours together. It's the highlight of my parent's day — and allows me and my partner to have and hour when we can both work!


Bianca Taylor, associate producer, KQED segmented audio and podcasts
My pro tip is getting e-books from the public library. You can download books FO'FREE NINETY-NINE on your Kindle, or even as a PDF on your computer or phone. Extra pro tip is once you have the book on your kindle, you turn that puppy on airplane mode so it doesn't get whisked off your device once the loan is over! (the loan goes back to the library so someone else can check it out but the book is still on your device until you take it off airplane mode and sync it).


Carly Severn, KQED senior social media specialist
One unexpected perk of my lack of commute (apart from, you know, not having to commute) has been an extra hour in the evening to properly watch movies. When you’ve reached “the end” of Netflix — it does exist — there’s a number of streaming options out there I hadn’t really ever considered before.

Limited free trials are common, but with a little digging you can find their promo codes to extend them – for example, I got a month of the excellent horror-only streaming service Shudder with such a code, rather than their usual two weeks. Try searching Twitter for “[name of service]” + “trial” + “code”, or sign up to their emails – they’ll probably send you one. Of course, there’s Kanopy, too, which you can access free online with your library card. The selection there is stunning, and I am ashamed it took a pandemic for me to discover what your library card can get you.

Screen time

Sreehari Menon, reader submitted tip
To reduce effects of screen-time that doubled (8hrs/day), I turned the night mode, which cuts blue light, to Always ON mode.

Lina Blanco, Digital Manager of Engagement, KQED Arts & Culture
I need to get away from my screen! What's helped is trying to become a plant mom and be aware of my plant's needs. Also — JIGSAW PUZZLES!


Rachael Myrow, senior editor, KQED Silicon Valley News desk
I'm making a point of stocking my larder and freezer with orders from small, conscious food purveyors local and further away who've lost much of their restaurant and farmers market business in recent weeks. In a similar fashion, I'm sending birthday gifts from the same folks. Note — this is not an original idea, and many of the online stores are sold out of many items: Andy's Orchard, Bariani, Charles Chocolates, Cowgirl Creamery, Far West Fungi, Heritage Foods, June Tayor Company, Lummi Island Wild, Native Harvest, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Weavers Coffee and Tea.

Molly Solomon, KQED housing reporter
Something I discovered the other day was that a lot of bakeries are now selling their own sourdough starters or small packets of yeast for a dollar. Some have also been selling local flours. With flour and active yeast sold out at most major supermarkets or grocery stores, this has been so much easier! Most of the bakeries are doing curbside pick up, too, so you don’t even have to stand in line somewhere. The ones I like are Midwife and the Baker (in Mountain View) and Starter Bakery (in Berkeley). I’m sure other local bakeries are doing similar things.

More coronavirus coverage

Blanca Torres, Forum producer
One thing that people mentioned during our food supply segment was the rise in people signing up for Community-Supported-Agriculture boxes (CSAs), which is where you get a box of produce every week from a farm for a set price. My family has been ordering from Imperfect Foods for a few years now, so we were already on the get-produce-delivered-at-home bandwagon. Imperfect offers other grocery items as well such as pasta, eggs, dairy, pancake mix. The one downside is that the selection is not super consistent.

Sasha Khokha, host, The California Report Magazine
We are trading produce and bulk items (bags of rice and beans) with neighbors on our street. When one of us goes to the store or farmers market, we get extra and pay it back the next time!

Olivia Allen-Price, host, Bay Curious
Lots of local bakeries are selling flour directly to customers. I’ve been able to buy some from Baking Arts, a retail shop specializing in all things baking, in San Mateo.

When I can’t find something, I go on Nextdoor and search posts. Generally, someone else has asked about where to find it and you can read through everyone’s tips. I learned what time of day Safeway tends to stock toilet paper this way, and was able to snag a pack.

Polly Stryker, editor, KQED Science
I'm ordering food delivery for my dad (this is in the UK, but still), meals to his door. I'm ordering movies for him on Amazon and sending him chocolates and anything he needs by Amazon. I just ask to see what he wants.

One of our neighbors is gluten-intolerant. He can only eat a certain kind of bread (Ezekiel or wheat-free rye). We buy it for him and he's ordering wine for us from a wine shop. So, I guess, we communicate what each other needs and look out for it when we're at the store. We've been able to get him four loaves of this special bread.

Mental Health

Rick Hanson, psychologist on KQED Forum discussing dealing with anxiety:
I think there are three key things to do. Supported by a lot of research, certainly personal experience as well.

First, find your footing. When we don't know where we stand, when we don't know what's going on around us and we don't have an immediate sort of action plan, then, of course, we're going to be more anxious. So to me, at this time in particular, it's important to draw on expertise, to listen to people who are scientists, public health officials, and clarify your immediate situation, find your footing.

Second, calm and center.... Take those breaths, tune into your body, get us, get a grip, common center.

And then third, tend and be friend.... We're profoundly social mammals and this time, in particular, really calls us, I think, to tend to others and befriend others to make connections with others. And in so doing, besides coping more effectively neurologically and hormonally, it helps to calm us down and help us feel better and function better.
(Quote edited for length and clarity.)


We want to know what changes you've made, big or small, to help get through this time. Please feel free to share your tips below: