Less than a year ago, I went back to work. I gave up my role as a full-time, stay-at-home mom to continue pursuing my passion for journalism at Jmore, a place that understands the work/life balance. With my job as senior writer, I can be both a professional and a parent.
During this coronavirus pandemic, I am even more grateful to have the work-from-home option. I know many people do not. But with this pandemic, I’m not only a working mom but I’ve reverted back to my role as a full-time, stay-at-home mom.
For five years that was my job, so one may think it’s completely doable. And while it is doable, and enjoyable most of the time, now is very different.
I, like many others, am now a stay-at-home mom on steroids — our kids’ caretakers, teachers, entertainers and chefs.
As an ordinary stay-at-home mom, I would fill my days with social outings – a gym class, making plans with friends, or a library class.
But these days are anything but ordinary.
Schools across the country are out of session for at least two weeks — I’m guessing longer — because of the coronavirus. We are trying to flatten the curve, which I understand.
But with that comes challenges for everyone, including working parents. stay-at-home ones and those who are trying to be both. We are in uncharted waters, and not every day will be smooth sailing. There will be rough times ahead.
Interestingly, in this time of social distancing, most of our social interactions are taking place online. The technology we have makes it possible for people to work and communicate, making quarantine a little less isolating.
It also can be the cause of some of those hard times. Social media can be a place where most people post their best selves, myself included.
My feed is flooded with parents posting their homeschool setups, their daily schedules with every hour accounted for, their kids’ at-home academic accomplishments and art projects.
I, too, am guilty of creating a schedule, posting smiling pictures on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. But I have yet to keep to my schedule. In fact, it feels like we made a schedule as an activity to get us through day one. Now, I’m taking cues from my daughters and offering up worksheets or artwork when they start to argue, cuddling on the couch while watching way too much television, and staying active with dance classes and yoga sessions.
During this pandemic, no two days will be the same. With this column, I am hoping to give you a glimpse into my day to day, figuring this out with two young kids at home. There will be some good days and some bad ones for all of us. You are not alone in that.
I hope you, too, will share with me what you are doing to pass the days. In a time of chaos, we can choose to look at the negatives or the positives.
I hope with this column we can all look at some of the positives taking place around us because even in the ugliest of times, there is beauty to find.
Day 1: Monday, Mar. 16, 2020
Today did not start like any other Monday morning. Today is the first day my kids are out of school because of the coronavirus outbreak.
My daughters and I spent this morning planning. At first, I was unclear how I was going to handle the next couple weeks. Honestly, I’m still a little unsure. But after seeing multiple COVID-19 schedules on social media, I decided I needed to jump on that bandwagon and create some sort of normalcy for our current situation.
The first schedule I saw was thoroughly organized, with each hour of the day accounted for. That’s the kind of parent I strive to be, the one who can constantly go with their kids and provide endless hours of entertainment. The second schedule I saw was filled with all screen time. I fear that is the parent I am or will become as the weeks go on.
I don’t want to fall short, so the girls and I made our own schedule, taking the two I saw and creating one that has both activity time and screen time.
Once we had the schedule, we focused on getting ourselves prepared for the next couple of weeks. We organized our workspace, which includes a basket of books, an arts-and-crafts space and a notebook for our worksheets. We learned, we did kids yoga, we danced and we social-distanced outside, seeing neighbors from a responsible distance. Well, my husband and kids social-distanced. After all our morning activities, I needed a nap!
If I’m being honest, we also had a brief meltdown. But to my surprise, it was short-lived and I stayed calm.
The thing is, I have severe anxiety at times and tend to lose my patience. But during all this chaos, I have felt surprisingly calm.
I hope it stays that way.
Day 2: Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020
As positive as I felt after day one of quarantine is as negative as I felt after day two. My patience ran thin and I was not sticking to our schedule. There was arguing and frustration. I felt like a referee.
We did not do schoolwork. Instead we watched movies and played on iPads. I forgot to feed the girls lunch, so instead they snacked. I snapped at my husband and beat myself up for not sticking to our new routine. I ended up taking some time for myself and worked out in the basement. I felt much better after that, but still guilty for the way our day turned out.
Yet the more I think about it, the more I know it’s alright to have these days and I should come to expect them occasionally.
And just because I may be struggling, my daughters are happy. Before bed, I said to Lila, “We are stuck inside, but are we having fun?” “Yeah, I am,” she responded without hesitation. Shocked, I immediately asked, “You are?” to which she said, “Yes, because I get to spend every day with you, and I love spending every day with you, Daddy and Brooklyn.”
I will let go of today and we will start again tomorrow, because tomorrow is a new day!
The Rest of Week One
After day two, the days started blending together. But we had fun! In full disclosure, I have not kept to our schedule. While we do some activities from it, I decided that trying to stick to the timing of the schedule was causing more stress than it was worth.
The one part we do stick to is getting dressed every morning, or at least changing out of the pajamas we slept in. That being said, on one of the days, Brooklyn said to me, “Mommy, you didn’t stick to our schedule, you didn’t get dressed.” The embarrassing part is, I had gotten dressed, I just changed from my sleeping sweatpants to my during-the-day sweatpants!
So what have we been doing to stay busy? A lot! We have danced, done yoga, played outside, watched movies, played games, done some worksheets from school, made some art and cleaned the house. Lila’s job was to clean the bathroom, and Brooklyn’s was to take out of garbage. Both girls LOVE the idea of helping out around the house.
This last week, I’ve been more hands-on with my kids than ever before. I’ve been intentional in our activities and in the time we have spent together. I’ve also noticed the pause has been beneficial for the girls. While not every hour has been perfect, we have had less meltdowns and more fun.
We live in a society that is always on the go. Right now, I’m trying to enjoy this slower pace. I know what’s happening outside the walls of my home won’t go on forever. It’s scary at this moment, but there will be a time when we are back to our fast-paced ways. So until then, I’m going to enjoy (as best I can) this time with my family.
What beauty are you finding during this time? Please share your experiences along with me on Facebook and Instagram!
Watch Aliza Friedlander’s video update on life with social distancing:
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