Now there’s a blog post title I never thought I’d write!
This is such an odd time to make sense of. I know one day I’ll revisit this post, and possibly even direct my grown children to it when they ask what the quarantine of 2020 was like, so I hope to cover a few thoughts on the experience we’re going through.
I was telling a friend yesterday that I had reached my threshold for handling all of this well and that I was (and am) greatly missing my convenient comforts. I’m longing to eat out on evenings when we’re craving something special or simply want to hand over the cooking and dishes to someone else. While I’m not a physical-touch-sort of gal I want to envelope some of my dearest friends into giant hugs and be close enough to them that I can see their eyes in conversation not through a screen. I want to explore and enjoy the spring season with visits to the gardens, museum, or hey, I’d even take a jaunt to Target right now for a change of scenery. I am greatly devastated by the loss of our annual Seaside vacation, a trip I worked hard to pay for for my family. We’d be a couple hours away from the beach right now and my heart yearns for that special beachside magic we experience every April.
But perhaps more importantly, this quarantine has brought a lot of good even though many of my personal circumstances haven’t changed much (I work from home, and my kids only go to part-time child care). I’ve felt called to look at the restrictions I’m facing as an opportunity to inwardly and outwardly reflect on what I want more of in my life and what I want less of.
The mounds of extra dishes piled high every night feel like a literal chore, but I’ve treasured the reason they’re there: meals spent around the table with my family. The juggle of working from home while simultaneously being a present mother with small children, has once again made it glaringly obvious how important it is for me to have very defined boundaries worth protecting. Living out our days with literal essentialism permeating many of the decisions and choices we make has allowed us to think differently about contentment and more specifically, how to entertain, teach, parent, and guide our children. It’s also made me think differently about how to love my husband, be a friend, create a lifegiving home, and steward my personal time best.
Just when I thought I was living my life in radically new ways, a goal I was after in the first quarter of pre-pandemic 2020, a global crisis has unfolded, and with it, a beautiful opportunity to dive even deeper into an intentional life with truly only the essentials.
So as I’m sure many others feel, I also have great days and hard days.
Days where having my family under one roof feels indulgent and special, but like a sensory overload the next. Days where I feel like I’ve got the working mom thing handled only to be knocked flat on my face the next because I can’t do it all. Days where the meal plan is meticulously followed and beautiful dinners grace our table, only for a frozen pizza to be pulled from the depths of our freezer the next. It may just be that right now life requires a redefining of what it means to balance out a life well-lived.
Here are some things we’ve done during quarantine.
ONE: I’ve stuck to a one-thing-a-day mentality. This applies to work responsibilities, personal pursuits, and children-related tasks. If I take the kids for a long walk to the forest that’s my one kid thing for the day. If I get two hours of emailing done in an afternoon during naps that’s my work-related task. If I get laundry and cleaning done, that’s my home contribution for the day. The likelihood of getting much more done any given day is high, however these very low expectations have allowed me to be reasonable with myself while curbing disappointment at not being more productive (or imaginative with the kids, creative with meals, fancier with how I look, etc).
TWO: Some of those children specific one-thing-a-day activities have included: taping butcher paper down in the living room and putting out a bucket of colored crayons to draw with my kids, using painter’s tape to make a race track on the living room floor (I made the letters of Lachlan’s name to make it a tiny bit educational), using dry erase markers and an old book from my childhood to help Lachlan work on his letters and writing out his name, as mentioned here and here continuing to visit our fort in the forest and becoming lovers of nature, and most notably, making homemade play-dough. I found the easy recipe via Jillian Harris’ blog.
THREE: I decided that a global pandemic was not a great time to have rigid eating parameters so Friday is now pizza night in the Bosse home and it’s a delightfully cheesy treat to look forward to all week. We get the signature pie from the local pizza house in town and we view this as a gesture of support towards a small businesses in a hard time. Not once have I felt guilty about sitting around the box of pizza on the dining room table while Frank Sinatra serenades my family of four. Greasy fingers and happy bellies abound!
FOUR: We’ve been chipping away very slowly at a few home projects, many in line with my 2020 goals. Which after discovering many of the projects were categorized as ‘mine’ we also determined these should instead be ‘ours’ and have now decided those family meetings we keep talking about having, need to really take place. Stay tuned for an update on family meetings, ha.
FIVE: I’ve been unapologetic about letting Peppa Pig play with my children when I need a hot minute to myself. I’m more restrictive with Lachlan and kid’s YouTube because I think it’s too easy to get addicted to the feel of a phone in one’s hands, but I like Peppa and think her family’s light-hearted approach to life’s joys and frustrations is worth my kids taking notice of. It’s often playing on the TV in our home and sometimes we take on British accents in conversation. Have you ever watched the episode where Daddy Pig forgets the picnic on their walk in the forest? Mommy Pig doesn’t get pissed and roll her eyes like I would have.
SIX: Technology has been a great gift during this time. I’ve been able to facetime with friends to check in and have conversations with. Many times my kids join the calls and I know seeing other faces aside from mine and my husband’s is a treat. My kids have had opportunities to facetime their friends and grandma. I’ve gotten a chance to have group messenger calls with EIGHT of my girlfriends home in Canada and THAT was a true delight. How it took a pandemic to realize we could make these calls is beyond me. My husband has even rekindled some of his college friendships by having similar group messenger calls, seven to eight people deep. While we are literally physically isolated from social situations, there are still opportunities to make it less lonely.
SEVEN: I plotted out a hummingbird and bee garden to plant with the boys once it stops snowing here (I can’t believe I just wrote that because it’s April and the snow is ridiculous by now). I used crayons to sketch it out and it’s just lovely. Then I bought flower seeds from Erin to start an indoor seedling garden so that again, I can combine both an educational activity with progress towards a 2020 goal. I suspect many of us are pouring into similar activities right now judging from the sold out products across the internet but hey, the world isn’t going to suffer from putting more goodness back into it right?
EIGHT: I gave my youngest child the most embarrassing hair cut of his life. My husband said he was going to post the evidence on the internet and I threatened him back with a threat that shall remain nameless. I tell you this because I believe a global pandemic is not a time to learn certain skills (for example, cutting a 16-month-old’s hair) but instead a time to look forward to things others can do for you when the time comes. There’s a list you can start working on: things to do when lockdown is over!
NINE: In line with the first item on this list, instead of viewing my day as a structured chunk of time to perfectly plan out and make myself and my family adhere to, I’m learning to be a lot more flexible with how and when things get done. Oh, and I have extended everyone up in here a lot more grace because of it. I honestly think it’s helpful to know the rest of the world is adhering to a similar structure as we are but regardless, it’s been refreshing to eliminate a lot of hurry from my day. No diaper bags to rush to pack, no meetings to rush to join, no stores to rush out to get to. We miss the meetings and stores and playdates we may have previously rushed to but we’ve leaned into what feels like a perpetual slowness that we never knew we needed.
TEN: I’ve committed myself to learning to use my camera. How did I do? :)
Join me below with any quarantine / pandemic thoughts you have! I’d love to hear. Xo