Two months ago, normal life ceased to exist. We all quickly became acclimated to new phrases like “social distancing” and “essential workers”. I pray for the people who didn’t already have enough toilet paper and soap at home! Let’s face it– life got weird, quick! We soon came to realize not everything we thought we needed was really necessary. But we also learned there were some items that became essential we might not have thought about previously.

In my house, the item I now dread running out of is sidewalk chalk. I bought a case on a whim during a panic-induced shopping excursion after it was announced that school was out “until further notice”. Along with grocery items, cleaning supplies, and stamps (I foresaw lots of letter-writing in our future), I was on the hunt for anything and everything that might keep a preschooler entertained and didn’t require batteries. I bought a lacrosse set, baseball bat and tee, board games, and one of only 2 packs of sidewalk chalk I saw on the shelf. Oh, how I wish I’d gotten them both!

our very first hopscotch course

On a sunny afternoon early on in quarantine, T and I were relaxing on the porch swing when she uttered those dreaded dearly loved words: “Mommy, play with me.” I saw the chalk that had not been opened yet and instantly thought, “Hopscotch!” I drew some boxes on the street (we unfortunately don’t have sidewalks in our part of the neighborhood) and had her assist me in writing the numbers. Then I introduced her to the most basic version of hopscotch– just jump in the boxes.

Oh my gosh! She was hooked instantly. Our simple little course soon started getting longer and more complex. It started to include paths to follow, images to jump over or to, tasks to complete. We have themes. If it rains, that means we are on the street as soon as it’s dry, drawing a new (and different) course.

increasingly complex
help Harry catch the snitches
follow the trail, jump over the mud puddles

And it’s not just hopscotch. We also spent an afternoon writing “fun facts” around the neighborhood. Another day, we went to every stop sign in our loop and wrote song lyrics that started with the word “stop”.

My daughter has a new-found love for everything Pokemon, so we’ve started walking around the neighborhood and “hiding” various Pokemon characters for the neighbors to “find”. Last weekend (and this is not an exaggeration at all, I promise), we spent TWO HOURS walking around the half-mile loop where we live, drawing Pokemon characters.

It’s gotten ridiculous, and has started to gain some attention in our fairly quiet neighborhood. People have even stopped to ask if we would draw things in front of their houses.

I almost panicked recently because we were almost of out chalk (the kit I bought had something like 60 pieces in it!). I had searched all the local stores and discovered that apparently other people also considered sidewalk chalk essential– it was nowhere to be found. Luckily my mom was able to order us a case of 128 pieces (of which we’ve already gone through about half!). 

I’m not sure anything I’ve received in the mail has ever made me happier

It has been A LOT of fun, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m glad when it doesn’t rain for a few days and I can just enjoy the work we’ve already done. Hopscotch, and chalk-art in general, has been a new bonding activity between my daughter and me. 

If I had to do the last 2 months over again, the only thing I would change would be buying both boxes of chalk when I had the chance!

What surprising new items have become “essential” in your home?

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Originally from Dauphin Island, AL, I am a stay-at-home mom who likes to do anything other than just stay at home. My husband and I have lived in 5 states together and are in the Atlanta area now for the second time. I have a Master’s degree from GSU in Multiple and Severe Disabilities and was a special education teacher for 8 years before deciding to work with adults with autism and then becoming a SAHM. I now work as a preschool teacher and fitness instructor. I enjoy spending time with my daughter at parks, libraries, and anywhere else that we can explore our world.