Like most people, I had a sense that COVID-19 was going to result in my family being quarantined. I stocked up on essentials, cleaned, organized and sanitized our home in preparation for our family of five to stay put. As I prepared, I wondered what it would be like trying to entertain a spirited preschooler, active toddler, and seven-month-old who is just starting to explore for who-knows-how-long, all while trying to split parenting and telework hours with my husband. The first two weeks went better than expected but they weren’t without hiccups. It was a time of great learning for our family, as it likely was for yours. Here are the five biggest lessons from our first couple of weeks of coronavirus quarantine.
Like many others, I was intrigued by the colorful COVID-19 schedule for kids that was floating around the internet. My kids go to daycare and benefit from the structure and schedule they follow. While a schedule based on the time of day would be wonderful, having a baby in the mix makes this rather difficult. Additionally, the times at which my husband and I swap work and parenting duties vary based on daily phone meetings and deadlines. We found that what worked for our family is having a rhythm of the day. We don’t worry about specific times but try to do some of the same things in the same order daily to create a routine. Since our children are small, we focus on free play, writing a letter to a friend, arts and crafts and outside time in addition to meals and nap.
LESSON: Take what works for others and adapt it to work for you.
At the beginning of this crisis, I believed the more information I had, the better. But as the days dragged on and I spent most of my kid-free time watching media stories that increased my anxiety I realized I had reached a point of saturation. What I was gaining from following the news was no longer adding to my knowledge and helping me formulate a response to the situation. Instead, it left me feeling drained, depressed and anxious. I found the same thing occurred when I spent significant time on social media, so I cut back on it. I watch a bit of news here and there and stay abreast of the headlines but mostly ask my husband to share important information with me when necessary.
LESSON: Pay close attention to what provides truly useful information and what drains you. Embrace one and avoid the other.
While challenging and scary, this time at home with my family has offered so much good as well. We realized all over again why we love our home and neighborhood. In the absence of our usual distractions and an effort to avoid too much screen time, we discovered amazing wooded paths that we may otherwise never have found. We are paying more attention to what we’re consuming and working harder to use everything and avoid being wasteful. In fact, we realize we don’t need as much as we thought. We have a greater appreciation for simple pleasures like sitting out on our deck with a cold beer. Days at home with small children can be monotonous but we’re reminded daily that we’re blessed with funny and interesting kids.
LESSON: There is good stuff to be had in this coronavirus quarantine. Seek it out and appreciate it.
I knew technology was a blessing, but I frequently took it for granted or complained about how it interfered with in-person experiences. However, when you are practicing social distancing, technology is key to dealing with the accompanying isolation and staying in touch with friends and family. I cannot imagine going through this crisis 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Thanks to technology, I can enjoy a virtual happy hour with dear friends. Technology is allowing my kids to see and speak with their grandparents during this difficult time. Thanks to technology there are a plethora of available educational resources, just a click away. Thanks to technology the distance of social distancing is more bearable.
LESSON: Use technology as a tool for connection. And be grateful for it.
If you have used daily childcare for any length of time, as I have, it is easy to wonder about what it would be like to be home with your kids every day. Approaching an experience like this coronavirus quarantine can cause both excitement over the time together and anxiety about providing daily care, likely while teleworking. For me the time at home with my children has been, like all things in life, full of opportunities and challenges. I am proud that I have not allowed the challenges to overwhelm me or the opportunities to pass me by.
LESSON: This experience will be neither as easy nor as hard as you may have thought. Embrace it, and your children.
What lessons have your family learned during the coronavirus quarantine? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.