The days have honestly been blending together because it’s the same routine over and over. But honestly, I’ve found my groove. I’ve always been aware of my kids’ schedules – especially when we approach that hangry timeframe – but I’ve been more in tune to their behaviors over the last 17 days because I’m with them all the time. Though I thought I really knew them, spending so much time with them has helped me know them at an even deeper level.
I know when a minor nuisance will be brushed off and when it will escalate (and how quickly).
I know when my 3-year old starts to ignore me (I mean intentionally tuning me out), especially when I’m telling him to stop, slow down or just a flat-out “no,” he’s tired.
I know when my 2-year old starts to run around like a Tasmanian devil with the sole purpose of wreaking havoc, it’s because he’s tired.
And I know when my 5-month old burps, 9 times out of 10, it will be followed by a surprising amount of spit-up.
I am seeing their strengths and challenges appear more clearly. I am seeing their passions and interest developing. I am seeing them start to share who they really are.
And I have to say it’s been amazing. My first real “break” from it all came yesterday, day 17. My husband was able to monitor work emails from his phone while he ran point on childcare and I took care of my own work and things around the house. It wasn’t without interruption, but the extra hands and eyes helped me tackle a significant to do list.
But as I got the boys ready for bed, I realized something: my day felt off. I didn’t get to be part of their days the way I was for the last 16 days. I didn’t get to read with them, play with them or find new activities for them to stay busy with. I didn’t have to break up (many) fights. I was the back-up.
And it made me realize how important this role is to me. Sure, it’s tiring, but when it wasn’t there, I missed it.
I am now aware that I’m going to miss the crazies. I’m going to miss the giggles and running around in circles. I’m going to miss hearing the boys get each other riled up. I’m going to miss having this happen all day, every day when things get back to “normal.”
It took a solid 2 weeks for all of us to get our footing, but once I got into a groove with my new reality, I had an enlightening moment: I see that as the moments of life, I am starting to be okay with whatever it sends. This new normal suits me just fine. Truth be told, I stood in the kitchen completely unsure of what to do with myself when I realized the baby was taking his nap and the big two were entertained and supervised. I’m usually so pressed for time, I didn’t know where to start on my to do list. And then I found myself wondering what I’m going to do when the big two are back in school and everything goes back to the old routine.
But that’s another topic for another day…
My Top Lessons
- Treasure the moments, however they show up. Because in a blink of an eye, they are changed. See the amazing in the tough situations. Appreciate when a moment of growth has given you even a moment of peace and quiet. Don’t want more of it. Don’t lament that it’s happening (so fast). Just appreciate what you get. All too quickly, things return to their “normal” and those moments will be gone. Take a mental snapshot and feel grateful. That moment when everyone is sitting together at the dinner table? Take a mental snapshot. That moment when you find them sitting quietly together reading or playing? Take a mental snapshot. That moment when you realize they look cute but may be in cahoots and what might follow may be absolute mayhem? Take a mental snapshot.
- You cannot do everything. I’m going to say this again for the people in the back. YOU. CANNOT. DO. EVERYTHING. And even if you do somehow manage it, you will not be able to physically or mentally give 100% to everything. That in and of itself was a hard pill for me to swallow. I don’t like doing anything half way, so I often felt frustrated, tired and defeated every night when I fell into bed. Realizing that I can’t do everything I wanted to, was a significant mindset shift that drastically changed the intention of the day.
- Journal. I have a journal I write in every night. I write one big thing that happened that day for each of my boys. That’s it. That’s my journal entry. But it allows me to remember both the big moments and the small moments that would otherwise be lost in the bustle of every day. Flipping back through it will absolutely bring a smile to your face as you remember something little, like when your 5-month old started driving his toy car across his play mat, or something big, like when your 2-year old asked to stop using diapers or your 3-year old has a brilliant idea to use a fork when painting pasta to avoid getting paint on his hands (*mind blown*). Big or small, write it down.
- Weather – We had a variety of weather over the last few days in New England. We got outside when it was nice and talked about the blue sky and the clouds. We talked about the wind and we talked about rain. We used the moment to talk about the things around us that in other moments, we would have passed right by.
- Yard work – This was a first for me: I let my 3-year old help with some spring garden clean-up. We were only out for about an hour, but the physical activity, combined with the guided focus took a lot out of him. He was so excited to be the helper, carrying rakes and shovels out to the garden. He talked about it for the next 24-hours and got my 2-year old excited to help next time. He felt productive and proud that he was able to contribute to something on my to do list. In his eyes, he helped Mommy do something that would otherwise have been something I’d have to do without them. And, we got some important things in the yard done.
- Read a book and do an activity – We started finding things to do that we read about in a book. For example, If You Give a Moose a Muffin is a recent fan favorite, so as we read it, we picked out a few things the moose does: eats muffins, makes sock puppets, paints a scene, tries on his Halloween costume. We picked one thing (paints a scene) and set off to do our own painting adventure.
- Talk – To your kids. To your partner or spouse. To your friends. To your neighbors. To your family. Talk to people. Whether it’s the lack of human contact or that the pandemic has made people realize the importance of relationships, tap into your ability to just talk to people. Listen to what they have to say. Share your own stories, concerns, lessons learned. My favorite is asking everyone, including your kids, “What is the best thing that has happened to you so far, today?” or at the dinner table, “What was your favorite part of the day today?”
COVID-19 created a new reality for us, one that we were thrown into without the chance to truly digest. Each day has its own unique challenges as we navigate working and parenting (and teaching and staying healthy and taking time for ourselves) in a 24-hour day. But it’s possible. It just requires a mindset shift – one that accepts our reality and uses our energy to be happy, safe and productive in it.
Check out our COVID-19 Resource Center to help you create a more mindful response to our evolving definition of “normal.”
If you feel like you’re struggling to find an approach to working, parenting, teaching and staying healthy in a 24-hour day, join me for my 1-hour Group Coaching Class on Wednesday, April 1 at 8pmET to learn how to implement a health mindset shift to find success in every element of your day. No guilt. No frustrations. Just productive action.
Consider reading The Quarantine Diaries: Day 12