The weird thing about March 2020 and the whole Coronavirus scare is … well, honestly … I can’t finish that sentence. Because the weird thing is everything. All the things. Each one. There is nothing normal about the life we are all living right now.
I took my one-year-old in to her pediatrician for a recurring ear infection and left with the recommendation to quarantine ourselves. She had an upper respiratory infection, and our local hospital’s standard practice is to treat all upper respiratory infections in little ones as if they were COVID-19. Most cases are mild in children, and Selah didn’t fit the qualifications to be tested. So we hunkered down for the good of others as a precaution. We have one week left to go, and I think I have about two days’ worth of nerves left. So we’re in a pretty good spot. Ha!
I have started this blog post approximately twelve times, and each time I launch into writing about some other aspect of this quarantine life. So in effort to not give you 50,000 words on Laundry: Why Do We Still Have it During Quarantine? or on How to Survive When You Lose Your Job and Your Health and Your Church Building and There’s No Bread: A March 2020 Life Guide, I’m sticking to this one today. Our quarantine bucket list.
Aside from God, my husband’s humor, and copious amounts of coffee creamer, there have been two things that have kept me afloat during this quarantine: 1) making a list and 2) throwing the list out the window. I am not one of those moms who scheduled everything out that first week school closed. You remember those moms? The ones who scheduled out activities and lessons and theme-based snacks and all the family time? How are you ladies doing? Are you tired? Come on over to our side, mamas. There’s plenty of room on the couch covered in Goldfish crumbs. Just turn Daniel Tiger back on. It’s fine. Remember that line – “it’s fine.” That’s your new motto. Not “it’s great” or “it’s award winning” or even “it’s admirable.” We’re in the apocalypse over here. IT’S FINE.
But back to my list. I knew that these days would put me in a fragile emotional and mental state. My husband’s job is affected by all of this, and I now have no childcare options so that I can do my job. We have had surprising behavior problems (with our children, not the grown ups – unless you count me eating cookies with my head under the blankets), and being in isolation has a way of just messing with your mind. We were watching some show about this guy on death row who got in trouble in the prison, so they put him in isolation. So, isolation is the punishment for people ALREADY on death row?! Yet, here we are. Isolated and doing just great. Wait, where was I going with this?
Oh, yes. MY LIST. So I made a big chalkboard list of guidelines and activities and called it our Quarantine-tastic list. The other working title was Let’s keep Mommy out of the mental institution. But it didn’t look as cute in calligraphy.
I broke it down into three categories: daily activities, special activities, and home projects.
The daily activities are the things we need to do around here to keep us sane. We take family walks outside – keeping at least 6 feet distance from others and yelling UNCLEAN if anyone comes too close of course. We read lots of books. It’s helping my Selah monster stay still for two seconds and it feels like it’s helping our brains grow. We clean up each day. Normally I’m the opposite of a clean freak and fine with some clutter, but our brains need the extra space these days. A clean home is one thing I can control right now, and that feels better than I can explain. And lastly, we have quiet/iPad time. Selah takes a nap, Ruby gets to play on her iPad, and I get to just sit down and stare at the wall in silence without anyone touching me or snotting on me. (My husband has been working most of the days in his office downstairs in the basement. I’m not making him take a nap. Ha!)
There are other things I do daily like church/personal work, pursuing my relationship with God, and eating cookies, but this is a small, manageable list that I can involve both girls in. Your daily list may look a lot different, but this is what’s working for us!
Next, we have special activities. These are just a few free and easy things that my four-year-old can look forward to. Our list is to bake a unicorn cake, play with sidewalk chalk, have a picnic under our tree, make a big fort, and find + paint rocks. There are a billion ideas out there for social-distancing activities. These worked for us since we can’t go out anywhere.
And lastly, we have a home list. I’m like 98% sure that I won’t cross off any of this stuff, but at least it makes me feel better as a person that I acknowledge them. Ha! As self-employed parents of little gremlins trying to figure out life in quarantine, we don’t have any free time these days. And if we do get free time, Timothy spends it on work and I stare at the aforementioned wall. But each time I pass our list I see the home projects written down, and it gives me hope that somehow they will get done.
So, my tip one was to make a list. It’s been a lifesaver in feeling like we have some control in the uncontrollable. My second tip is to throw the list out the window. Some days you’ll wake up feeling great and powerful and hopeful and ready to do all the things. Some days you’ll wake up with the weight of this chaos weighing heavy on your heart. The uncertainty and fear will creep in. Some days it takes all of your energy to continually give all that back to God. To fight the doubt away. To not snap at your children or argue with your spouse over meaningless things or eat all of the Doritos or to let dread make himself at home. On those days, throw out the list. Put on worship music. Let your kids have some extra screen time. Take a nap when your baby takes a nap. Lock yourself in the bathroom and cry for a bit. This is not normal. Living like this is not normal. Do what it takes to clear your brain. Then after a few hours, pick the list back up again. Take your kids to the backyard. Look up. It’s okay. This won’t last forever.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
Psalms 91:1-16 KJV