Staying at home for months on end means we’re all online, and shopping online, a lot more. Our New York City Editor Mimi O’Connor feels us. Brooklyn mom to an energetic eight-year-old (who had a #quarantinebirthday in June) we asked Mimi for her top 12 products that have gotten her through the pandemic, the summer and beyond. Read on to hear more from Mimi.

Like many spots in the country, things went sideways pretty quickly here in New York. Almost literally, in March, one minute we were debating attending a birthday party at a local movie theater, the next we were locked down, celebrating by watching E.T. “together” via Zoom. (It was actually pretty fun.) My initial pandemic parenting strategy (read: fantasy) was pretty ambitious, with weekly themes explored from a 360-degree perspective; i.e. “France”, with virtual visits to the Louvre, making crepes, building a LEGO Eiffel Tower, etc. In the end, my daughter had a short-lived love affair with Duolingo and I bought some flash cards. And while the subsequent months featured more screaming than s’il vous plaît we still have had our share victories, fun, and yeah, a lot of Minecraft. Here’s what’s helped us get through the spring, summer and likely beyond..

Mead Composition Books

Even though my immersive learning program didn’t work out, we still made use of these fun Mead composition books, which we labeled for each of my daughter’s subjects during remote learning. 

Get yours here, $19.99

Oxford First Flashcards


I haven’t given up on the French yet; these are the flashcards we bought, which while in use, were great. 

Get yours here, $9.67 

Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk Set

 When it was time to “Chalk the Walk”, I realized our chalk inventory was next to nil. We invested in this giant collection of chalk from Crayola, which has shades well beyond the basic. 

Get yours here, $39.97

SunPrint Paper Kit

My 70s childhood inspired this, one of my first pandemic buys, which enlists the help of the sun’s rays to make solar art prints. (Copyright 1975 from UC Berkeley, baby!)

Get yours here, $17.99

Sapadilla Rosemary + Peppermint Biodegradeable Liquid Hand Soap

I’ve been trying to concentrate on little luxuries to stay sane in these times, and a nice hand soap to go with all of that hand washing seemed fair. This one is plant-based and biodegradable and the rosemary mint scent is refreshing but not overpowering.

Get yours here, $16.99 for three

Corsair HS35 - Stereo Gaming Headset

Did I mention the Minecraft? (Or the watching of videos of people playing Minecraft…?) Some headphones became a must for the child as gaming, and remote learning kicked into high gear. These are comfortable, have good sound, and a removable mic. 

Get yours here, $39.99 

Toodour Solar String Lights

I am a big proponent of tiny lights, both indoors and out. We have a small outdoor space and these lights are the bomb, making it a bit more magical and cozy. Not quite fairy lights, they’re a bit larger and a string is 200 bulbs, 72 feet-long, with eight different “modes” like flashing, etc. (I use “steady.”) Pick a sunny spot for the charging panel, string your lights and enjoy as they turn on every night at dusk. 

Get yours here, $18.99

Intex Swim Center Family Inflatable Pool

Like many (most?) families who could, we bought an inflatable pool to weather summer in the city. It’s not like NYC’s free Olympic size-pools, but it gets the job done. 

Get yours here, $97.99

H2OGO! Double Water Slide

It turns out that our small front yard also happens to be the exact length of a slip and slide. Ours served as the focal point of a socially-distanced June birthday party and was a huge hit. (P.S. Literally our least expensive birthday ever!) 

Get yours here, $37.53

Jumbo Slow Rising Kawaii Squishies

Out of all the presents my daughter received for her birthday, this relatively inexpensive set of slow rise squishies (they "bounce back" at a slower rate than others) might have brought the most joy. And while this is not representative of her general state, she even used them for an informal mediation class during breathing exercises, which she dubbed, "squishie breathing." 

Get yours here, $12.99

MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope with Tripod & Finder Scope

Another birthday present, this was inspired by recent stargazing activity, and bought with the hope of using it when we head upstate for a bit later in the summer. (We use the free app SkyView Lite for help finding constellations in the city.) It's a nice combo of not too complicated, but with enough features to be a level up from basic. 

Get yours here, $61.99

Craftzilla Colored Duct Tape - 6 Color Multi Pack

Our daughter attends a Percy Jackson-inspired camp, for which kids make their own (safe) swords and shields out of cardboard and duct tape, and she in fact enrolled in an online camp for that very purpose this summer. Having a full arsenal of colors on hand is great for personalization, and our duct tape stash has come in handy for reenforcing forts, etc. 

Get yours here, $14.99


Like many families, we’ve been exploring online classes to engage our kid during this time. Our daughter has taken the Outschool class "Girl Power! Graphic Novels written by Women about Strong Girls” with Dr. Danielle Rhodes and has really enjoyed it. (We’ve already signed up for the second session, and Rhodes has now added a third installment.) The class meets once a week to discuss graphic novels from female authors with strong girl protagonists, some familiar, some less so. 

Get a few of our favorites here, here and here, $7.44-$9.11

The Babysitter's Club


Yes, it's a television show (i.e. screen time), but this Netflix adaptation of the popular YA series (now also in graphic novel form) is charming, smart and features a fun and diverse cast. It also doesn't shy away from complicated or nuanced situations, such as friend politics, divorce, health issues, etc. Recommend! 


Unless noted, all images from Amazon/retailers; main image, Amazon

—Mimi O’Connor


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