Photo by April Barnes.

Michelle, who works in medical device sales, and Jeff Andersen, whose company employs physicians, knew early on that the pandemic wasn’t going to end soon. 

“We realized real quick we had to go and find something to keep us sane. If we didn’t, it would be chaos,” Jeff says. 

Jeff’s office closed, so he set up an office in a spare bedroom. Michelle continued working from home. 

Third-grade son Reid, first-grade twins Jack and Hunter, golden doodle Bailey and live-in caregiver at the time, Tammy, were also house bound. 

“We gratefully learned over the last nine months that we actually all really like each other,” she says. “One of the things that really comes out of us as humans, we really do have an ability to adapt.” 

Kids, doorbells and barking became common sounds in the background of Zoom calls. 

“The work/life balance is intertwined more than it was,” Jeff says. “I think it was starting to do that, but this fast-forwarded it 5-10 years overnight.” 

Time outdoors saved the Andersen family’s sanity many times. The three boys had learned how to ride bikes without training wheels before the pandemic began. 

“A year ago, they weren’t riding bikes, and now we’re riding 16 miles all around the lake and back home,” Jeff says. 

The family helped neighbors get out of their homes by hosting a few socially distanced live music acts on their front lawn. 

“It really made for something to look forward to throughout the summer,” Michelle says. 

The boys enjoyed plenty of time on their devices, but Michelle says she saw a new side of her sons when they shut screens down. 

“They started coming up with games and started creating make-believe that I feel like I hadn’t really seen out of them,” she says. 

Jeff and Michelle came up with a slew of household projects to keep the kids occupied — and subtly put them to work — including painting the house, planting a vegetable garden and chopping firewood. 

“I was a little nervous, they got a saw for Christmas,” Jeff laughs. 

The couple says they see an end in sight. 

“It has to be intentional,” Michelle says. “The laser focus on gratitude for all the things we do have, like our home and community and health and jobs, helps keep the positive spirit and the joy of every day.”