Quarantine Diary Prompts—How to Journal about the Historic Events of 2020

July 30, 2020  - by 
woman and man sitting in park, writing in their covid diary

We are living in historic times. Are you recording your experiences? Not only can journaling help you cope better with day-to-day life, but one day your family will be interested in knowing what it was like to live through the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. If you haven’t already begun a COVID diary detailing your thoughts and experiences of this historic moment, below are a few journal prompts to get you started.

Think Back to the Beginning

mother and daughter start quarantine covid diary

It’s easy to forget to write about what life was like at the start of 2020, especially because so much has happened since January! Below are some journal prompts to jog your memory.

  • Record when and where you were when you first heard about COVID-19.

Did your family or friends tell you? Did you first learn about it from the news?

  • Reflect on your initial thoughts and feelings about the virus.

Have your feelings or perspective changed since you first learned about COVID-19?

Write about the New (Albeit Temporary) Normal

Depending on where you lived or other circumstances, you may have experienced unique disruptions to your daily life. Even if the disruptions are minor, record the ways in which your life changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If you were a parent whose children were out of school, what was homeschooling like?
two little boys look out a window while in quarantine

No shame if you had to refresh yourself on 5th-grade math.

  • If you were a student whose school closed down, how did you feel about learning from home?

The year 2020 took homework to a whole new level.

  • If you were an employee who worked from home, what was your daily schedule? How did it change compared to being in the office?
father works from home on computer and has son in his lap

Bonus points if you include a tally of how many times you heard co-workers say “Sorry, you cut out” and “I think you’re on mute” during a teleconference.

  • Did any of your plans change because of the pandemic?

Was a family vacation postponed? Did an event get canceled? Did you briefly contemplate buying a really cheap flight to another country?

  • How did your hometown, city, region, or country respond to the pandemic?

What social trends happened where you lived? Did people in your hometown buy out toilet paper? Did your city erupt in song from apartment balconies? Write about it!

Write about Daily Activities and Pastimes

woman facetimes her family

While it may not seem interesting right now, you or family reading your COVID diary in the future might be interested in how you passed the time—especially if you were stuck at home for weeks on end! The following journal prompts can get you started.

  • How did your schedule change during the pandemic?

Be honest—you slept in a lot, didn’t you?

  • Did you try any new hobbies?

Did you jump on the sour dough starter trend?

sourdough starter kit
  • What books, movies, TV shows, or other activities did you engage in?

Be sure to include how many times you watched the same TV show in a row.

  • If you were quarantined during the pandemic, did you dress differently?

And yes, I’m asking if you wore pajamas all day.

Reflect on How You Have Changed

granddaughter visits grandmother, separated only by glass. write in your covid diary about visiting loved ones

In all seriousness, COVID-19 has been difficult and life-altering for many people throughout the world. You can cope better with the present moment by reflecting deeply on the ways you and the world have changed, and your reflections can also benefit future readers.

  • Did you learn anything about yourself from this experience?
  • What is one aspect of your life that was harder during the pandemic?
  • What is one aspect of your life that was easier during the pandemic?
  • How has this experience changed you or those around you?
  • In what ways, if at all, do you think the world will be changed because of COVID-19?

Record Your Memories in a Safe Place

Remember to save your experiences in a safe place! One place to preserve your memories is on FamilySearch.org. You can type right into the app, or, if you prefer pen and paper, you can upload images of your COVID diary to FamilySearch Memories for safekeeping.   

If writing isn’t your thing—that’s OK! You can record your experiences as well. Just go to FamilySearch Memories on your desktop, or download the Memories app. When you’re ready, here’s how to make your recording:

  1. Download or open the Memories app (to download the app, click on the Google Play or App Store button below).
  2. Tap the menu icon (3 bars for Android, or 3 dots for iOS).
  3. Tap Memories.
  4. Tap the plus sign for making a memory.
  5. Tap Record Audio.
  6. Tap Begin Recording.

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  1. The prompts are a great idea for those starting this late. I started mine in Memories/Stories in April and still found myself scurrying to catch up with all the changes: technology, vocabulary, and so on. The New Normal is evolving, changing to adapt.

    I wish I had more room for photos attached to this Story. Can you tell me if there is a limit to the length of a Story? Will I need to break it up?

    1. As far as I know Memories stories don’t have a length limit – HOWEVER – people do have a limit to what they might read. Truly, except for the most devoted to the person writing, the longing something is, the less likely it will be read at all or at least all the way through. You might want to divide your Covid-not 1-18 experiences into topics and upload thems individually. Also, that way you can put up more photos, as they are limited to 10 per story. You could, though, put plenty in the photos area.

      1. There is a limit on size of word documents, just have to experiment on what it will accept. May need to break up larger documents into 2 or more smaller ones…..

  2. Thank you. That was great. I used pictures to capture the events we did including face masks. And will place little comments in our annual Christmas newsletter. June Perkins

  3. Thank you, I am a Stake Family History Consultant in Spokane Washington assigned to help youth become more involved in Family History and this is very helpful to journal or record and I will do the same. I keep a daily journal but have not included enough feelings and lessons learned. I can now make a point to include these.

  4. I have downloaded the journal app to my phone, and I know how to use it. It is really neat, and I love the questions to get started. Then, I went to my computer for the Memories section, and I didn’t see a way to record directly to my computer like I can to my phone app. Is there a way to do this on my computer?

  5. To be honest, I have never thought of recording my memories of 2020 and the pandemic. As this has affected the whole world, I considered that I may just be echoing everyone else’s thoughts. I have however added it to my , so called ‘completed ‘ life story for my grandsons and hopefully their issue.

  6. These were my thoughts way back to write thoughts re this “time” also as a Ward Historian to have members tell me of some experiences they have had regarding changes at home, church and school and work lives, to record in our Ward History 2020 and longer as Virus continues also what our Govt. Leaders and Church leaders were advising or encouraging us to do.. we are all (world wide) part of this huge change to our way living we once knew..

  7. I’ve been keeping a journal for more than 30 years, starting in high school. Usually I make an entry once every month or so, but since the pandemic started, It’s been closer to every week. I’ve also been keeping the front page of the newspaper, more so in the beginning, but every week if there’s a pertinent headline, I keep just that front page. I did that during 9-11, too, and my son, who was only 1 when that happened, has been able to go back and read those newspapers from those days.

  8. I’d like to add another prompt, which i was
    disappointed to see was not included. There is not mention of those who have lost family members to this virus. It’s very important to write about the process of grieving in isolation, grieving in a world that often doesn’t seem to care or respect the severity of this virus, and burying your loved one without the benefit of familiar rituals or family by your side.