Reflections on Day 15 of isolation: settling into home life and thoughts on returning to work

It’s a Saturday and it does feel a bit different given that my husband isn’t working full-time in the home office, and we aren’t so closely tied to the daily schedule. My older daughter is the schedule’s biggest fan, but she’s showing flexibility today and allowing us to set other boundaries around screen time (we all know that’s the major point of contention, right?).

In a lot of ways, we are settling into isolation life over here, and this is the impression I’m getting from other people too. Meal planning for seven days – check; enough flour to bake every day for 4 months – check; toilet paper to get us through until May – check; finding all the incredible craft supplies and/or getting creative with what we have – check; Messenger Kids installed – check; wine and beer supplies – check (well…the wine is disappearing quickly, but hey, BC wineries are currently delivering for free, so – check); dancing in the laundry room to live Instagram DJs while drinking wine – check; not worrying about the scale but well aware that I’m on my way to gaining the Covid 15 (like the Freshman 15, but less fun?) – check.

Baking is typically my domain here, but I’ve passed along the reins to my husband so I can have a break and he can spend some time with the girls (click here for a recipe for awesome Chocolate Crinkle Cookies). I encouraged them: “Daddy will be great at baking! He’s so good at following instructions!” to which he responded: “Ya, I’m good at following the rules”. I don’t think it was a correction, but it does make more sense that he is rule follower over an instruction follower (read: my instructions often go in one ear and out the other, but if it’s a rule…). But truly, he has been a hero in this crisis, doing the groceries, installing the bike rack, taking a few hours off on the sunny days to spend time with us, and putting up with my wine “meetings” that last from 5-10 p.m. on Thursdays (yes, you read that right, 5 hours). I eat grilled cheese and chips while sipping red wine, so I guess in a lot of ways it is like university.

Granted, this has been my Spring Break from teaching high school, so next week is going to be a whole new adaptation. I’m a little nervous, but feeling supported by my district and peers, and just really looking forward to hearing my students’ voices, even if it’s only through the written word. To be honest, although I really enjoy the face-to-face interactions and camaraderie of the classroom, writing is one of our greatest communication pieces in English/Social Studies classes, so we will continue that significant connection. The provincial message to educators primarily focuses on well-being, health, and connection with students as we navigate this new territory in education. Planning will come, but first, let’s evaluate what’s most important as a team.

I know that my students are resilient and creative, and I’m looking forward to hearing their opinions on what has manifested during this uncertain time: what have they learned about themselves? About others? How do they think life will change once this is all over? I’ve asked them to keep a journal (optional) of these events to look back on, and I’m curious to see if any of them decided to write over their Spring Break. I’ve also been posting positive stories and funny videos on Google Classroom for some much-needed distraction from all the noise and statistics that can feel terrifying. Hopefully it helps, but posting on Classroom can feel a bit like writing into the void, so maybe I can establish more discussions as we move to online learning.

A new home schedule will be put in place, and my husband and I will need to take turns on the childcare front. This will inevitably put stress on the entire family. If anything, my own children have been examples of adaptability in all this. They still get rangy and in each other’s faces several times throughout the day, but overall they have adjusted to this time at home. My younger child is getting unprecedented attention from her older sister, and is over the moon with their continued imaginative play. My older daughter is connecting with friends on her device, and I don’t mind the silly video games and videos for now. She did comment this morning that if she could have three wishes they would be: that coronavirus didn’t exist; that she could have playdates and sleepovers with friends; and that the playgrounds weren’t closed. Sigh.

I haven’t finished a book or television series* in these two weeks, which might come as a shock to those who know me well. I do miss this quiet time, but I have replaced it with writing, coursework, painting, dancing, and going on trips (by speedboat) to New York with the kids in our imaginations. And yes, perhaps spending a bit too much time on social media or news sites (thanks iPhone, but I don’t need to know that my screen time was up 400% last week), but that has dwindled a little as each day passes and I get more comfortable with my circumstances.

Hope you’re coping okay with the change in circumstances wherever you are, or whatever those may be. Thinking of all the essential and healthcare workers out there who are making incredible sacrifices to keep the rest of us safe. To the rest of you, keep poking your heads out with pots and pans at 7 p.m. to cheer them on!

On a final note, send me a PM if you need toilet paper. I’m happy to throw it out my window as you run by.

*with the exception of episodes of Ozark – there’s always time for Jason Bateman’s priceless facial expressions and acting in that show. SPOILER ALERT: Here’s a great video summary on his genius (has SPOILERS up to first episode of Season 2). And let’s not forget Julia Garner (pure acting genius) as Ruth Langmore (expert character writing).*

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