The kids are (mostly) alright, and surprisingly haven’t said much regarding lack of playdates or playground time. They do miss their friends, of course, but are happy to be at home rather than the busy schedule of daycare and school. There are several minor altercations throughout the day over sharing toys, giving each other “looks”, saying something like “I’m a banana”, and who gets to wash their hands or stir the batter first.
In some ways, I’m more patient, recognizing we’ve got time to make mistakes or do things at a snail’s pace; at other times, the cacophony of screaming children (fighting or not) puts me right back into panic mode, where I tend to yell. I’m trying to be easier on myself given the circumstances (this also applies to consumption of baked goods and wine, in case you’re wondering or asking for a friend).
There’s rumours that people’s houses have never been more organized, and kudos to those who have done that! But over here, I’m taking it easy, not worrying too much about laundry piles, and reminding myself that when the kids entertain themselves for a half-hour, self-care is just as important as tidy countertops. And I think about you too, exercise (we all know mental health is closely tied to physical health) and I promise you’re first on my list once my body heals!
We’re lucky that both kids are at an age where they can be somewhat independent, and that the older one (age 7) is creative and often comes up with her own projects and ideas for adventures. Last week, she suggested we make “Explorer goggles” with toilet paper rolls, which we painted silver and gold, tied together with brads, and then attached ribbon to hang around our necks. When I stumbled across a Family Photo Scavenger hunt by @hellopeachphotography (pictured below), posted by a friend on Instagram, it was the perfect fit for our homemade binoculars.
I magically printed off one copy for each kid (otherwise – fights), from my phone, just one example of how technology has been the saviour of this isolation. Each kid got their own little explorer book, which we took with us on a walk through the neighbourhood and some trails. We explored (walked) for almost an hour, which is relatively long for my four-year-old.
This activity happened last week, when playgrounds were still open, so we did end up at the local school play area during our exploring. Even then, I was nervous, admonishing myself for not bringing hand sanitizer, and cutting off their play after about 10 minutes.
It was no real surprise when they closed the district playgrounds and parks on March 20, but my reaction showed otherwise. It was the last piece in a week full of stressful situations arising from isolation, where one of the only respites was playing at the park with the kids. I didn’t react right away, but I know it led to the big blow out that evening with my partner. But times of isolation call for quick resolve, and although arguing with one of the few people you are in contact with is normal, it can’t last if you want to retain some sanity.
We worked it out and have changed our focus on what we can do during this time. As the shops around us began to close quickly last week, we managed to sneak in two important purchases (purchased in small shops, and book-ended with much hand sanitizer and hand washing): one, a bike for me to complete the family bike crew; two, a bike rack so that said bike crew can go explore. The girls still have training wheels (and I have finally accepted that this doesn’t matter, even as younger kids roll by without them), but we are fostering a love of bike riding, not forcing the skill. Biking as a family has always been on our radar, but we didn’t prioritize it. Now we can be active together while enjoying the great outdoors, which should really always be a priority.
Other things that keep us active are Cosmic Kids Yoga and GoNoodle on YouTube. The seven-year-old is really into it, but keeping the four-year-old’s attention for more than approximately 8 minutes is more difficult. She lies down and says she’s tired, and then 2 minutes later is upside down or using the furniture as parallel bars (I *may* have asked her to do her “gymnastics move” for this photo).
Whatever you’re doing in your respective corners of self-isolation is great. Don’t be hard on yourself and find ways to keep your sanity (I find Zoom “meetings” with girlfriends or family and a glass of wine to do the trick ).