Our “new normal”
I started this blog as a way to share about how my family makes life work between crazy kid schedules and juggling our busy life. All of us are living with a new normal for now. It will be temporary, but will last long enough that all of us are also trying to cope with a complete paradigm shift in how we do life.
Our “new normal” includes juggling all the things while we try to work from home and keep the kids going with some kind of schoolwork, too. So, in the world of our new reality, how do we do it?
How do we take on each new challenge with patience and calm?
How do we give our kids the answers to their questions when we don’t know them ourselves?
Take it a day and a week at a time! Give the answers you can, and if you don’t know, tell them that. It is okay to be honest with our kids.
This is hard. For all of us.
In my house, I now have all three kids home full time, when just a month ago the older two were in school all day and the oldest was mostly gone from 7:45 am until sometimes after 9:00 pm. The older kids are starting remote school this week for the first time, ever. We are all on a learning curve.
My husband works all the way across the country most of the time, and just made it home over the weekend after doing some self-quarantining at our little apartment near his main office (thus not coming home for the previous weekend as per usual). I was home with my kids solo for nearly two weeks. And my usual support system of grandparents are still here, but at a distance so that we can make sure they stay healthy and don’t get sick.
Many of you are facing similar challenges. I work from home, and I do not work full time. Many parents out there are probably juggling all of the new things while also trying to keep up with your regular full time (or more than full time) work load. I have talked before about work/life balance and how I making being a working mom work for me.
Kids being home full time makes that an even bigger challenge. Now you have to take care of all the meals – and snacks – all day long. And make sure they are doing their work, plus helping with technology challenges and hiccups along the way (I had to have my son re-record his sight words yesterday morning several times because Windows was updating while we were doing it, and the software went down for awhile).
Working from home – at any time – is an adjustment if you are used to working elsewhere. I happen to love it! I love setting my own hours and getting projects done in between everything else. I happen to believe that I am more productive working on my own, without the distractions of people stopping by my desk to chat every 20 minutes in an office environment.
However, I know that I am very self-directed and I’ve trained my kids (mostly) to be patient and give me 15-30 minutes to finish something I need to get done before I can give them my full attention. This is not easy to do, and it has taken me years to get to this point. We don’t all have that kind of time right now. I talked a couple weeks ago about some ways that I make working from home with kids work for me.
So, many of your kids have spent a little (or a lot) more time than usual watching movies and hanging out in front of the TV. And that’s ok. Because we all do what we have to do.
This is a paradigm shift, for all of us. While my kids are used to me working on days they are home, they are not used to not seeing their friends. They do not understand (no matter how many times I have explained) why we are social distancing. They are used to seeing their grandparents, every day.
Our Governor issued a “stay at home” order last Thursday, effective until almost Easter (and potentially longer). So, after two weeks of keeping our distance from people on our own, we have another two weeks (or more) ahead of us. People: stay home. Keep your distance. Be smart.
Please do not rebel against “The Man” just for the sake of being contrary.
We are doing our part. And it is hard! But I’m worried about my dad, who is 82 and was a life-long smoker until just a year or two ago, so even though he doesn’t have emphysema (miraculously), he would have a really tough time with this virus. I’m worried about my father-in-law, who is 71 and does have emphysema and COPD. I worry about friends who have kids with cystic fibrosis, or anyone battling MS, diabetes or other diseases that leave them vulnerable.
Because of them – for all of them – we are staying home!
This is hard. And eventually, we will get back to the old “normal” that we were used to. Hopefully, with a greater appreciation for our families, teachers, and everyone in our orbit who takes care of the big things for all of us.
In the meantime, embrace the “new normal.”
Take advantage of this time out of time to enjoy the little things. Sit down for family dinner every night. Have family game night (or afternoon). Take a picnic lunch to an empty park or lake. Tackle a puzzle. Read a book (or 10). Read to your kids. Have your kids read to you. Turn up some music and have a dance party. Connect with friends on Zoom for happy hour. Let your kids video chat with their friends.
We have been calling all of the grandparents on FaceTime every morning. Check in with your neighbors, friends and family every couple days. Offer to go grocery shopping for someone else.
Last weekend, we took a “social distancing” walk with my in-laws. I told the kids ahead of time that they couldn’t go into “Lala and Papa’s” house, and they couldn’t give hugs. My little – our youngest – told me that she could do “air hugs” instead. So we did! Kids come up with simple solutions that work for all of us. It wasn’t the same, but it worked!
Friends, we will all get through this unique time, and find “normal” again. For now, embrace the “new normal” that we have for this time, and take it all one day at a time. Find joy in the flowers that are starting to bloom! Take a break periodically during your day to give your kids the attention they need – 10 minutes of your full attention will help them go play solo for an hour after. Think of it as your new water cooler conversation.