First of all, I’m trying not to get supremely annoyed by the fact that I’ve started a Coronavirus journal. For what its worth I feel drawn to cover this experience as it unfolds and hopefully provide you with something helpful. Like most of us, I was thinking this would blow over—however once the news about Italy took over my feed, I was sure the US would be next in line for this horrifying outbreak.
Therefore, life as we know it, is officially over.
Because we live in Washington, the epicenter of this outbreak, I’m thankful Pippin insisted on keeping the kids home from school for the last two weeks, despite State officials not acting quickly to close until yesterday. AND despite receiving a notice from the kids’ school threatening to file a petition with juvenile court because of their absences. At this point, we have about a three-week run on this thing.
But none of that matters today. It feels very much on the brink of every man for himself now. I hope it doesn’t get that crazy, but the lack of experience us privileged Americans have with this kind of thing has me thinking otherwise. So, I’m glad we’ve been self-isolated for a stretch of time, except a couple big trips to the store and me getting my things from work so I can attempt to focus and work from home.
Like many moms and dads, I’m working on not going insane while keeping the kids from going going insane or driving each other insane. I suppose an upside to this mess is that I once used to homeschool the kids and have never relied too much on the school system for getting the job done anyway. That doesn’t mean I did the best job at it either—but it does mean that we have tons of homeschool supplies and I’m not afraid to use them….or, better yet, let them use them. Because lets just admit, us parents are freaking out too, so any time spent on learning, needs to be self-guided.
Its fair to say that being in a blended family for almost 15 years has already prepped us for mayhem. Initially I was thinking this experience would be a walk in the park since we all have developed such a high tolerance for each other. This whole outbreak thing does feel next-level, however—and I’m not betting on anything going smoothly. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I’m working on keeping everyone busy. My school age kids have been stressed out about their homework and school projects….which we’ve already told them to completely forget about. We just keep redirecting them because it’s all we can do.
Since we’re all in the same boat, let me offer something here: If you are in the midst of this terrible outbreak or if it’s just getting started where you are— I have some ways I think I can help. Something I’ve seen mentioned a few times already on twitter is the potential for a big uptick in divorce. Families who are used to steady lives will be most affected by this. I’m assuming possibly many people have low tolerance when it comes to interruptions. Just add cramped spaces and increasing tension. But my family was built on chaos and so I think I can help.
The first thing you should do for your kids is establish creative hubs throughout the house—get out some books, art supplies, board games–whatever– and designate a few spaces. Get out the cookbooks and encourage a routine of creating and sharing with others. Let the process of making stuff and learning be time consuming. The whole point here is to learn to slow down. While you’re at it, teach the art of picking up after yourself. Helping each other is key.
I recommend establishing a schedule of sorts. Nothing super rigid, but enough to keep things moving along: At Chez So Called Mom, we’ve developed a schedule kind of like this:
🧼 Wake up and clean yourself, get ready for your day.
🐶 Feed and give attention to your assigned animal.
🏋️♀️ Get some form of physical exercise.
💡 Learn something new.
📚 Read, draw, create or fix something.
🧘🏼♀️ Encourage downtime—our brains don’t need to be going full tilt.
🍽 Pretend tonight is a celebration—cook something nice, set the table like it was a holiday.
🙏🏼 Help each other clean up and care for the things we have—doing this establishes a sense of gratitude for the things we use, as well as appreciation for each other.
🤬 Whatever you do, don’t freak out…..it’s a work in progress and that’s ok.
Between Pippin and myself — we’ve been on Twitter like maniacs—reacting to each and every ding and reading and retweeting the intense news that no one in their right mind can keep up with anymore. Therefore, we have been trying to balance ourselves—staying informed, but not falling down a rabbit hole too much and letting the day get away from us. After all, the kids are looking to us for direction and we need to stay laser focused on keeping them feeling secure.
To me, this moment is about taking advantage of living the slow life we’ve all dreamed of—it’s not ideal, but what are the choices? All things considered, I only see a fork in the road: Make the best of what we have to work with or panic and drive each other mad. For us so far, sometimes it’s both, and several times each day, but we are working through it.
This is a team effort and I hope some of what I’m saying gives you ideas on things you can do to stay positive and busy. What are you doing to keep your head about you? Let me know in the comments below—remember, I’m leaning on you, too, for ideas and encouragement.
OK, signing off, wishing you wellness and serenity….until next time.
xo, So Called Mom