Well, As I join millions of people across the nation and even more across the globe, entering week 3 of quarantine and social isolation, I was compelled to write a post on these unprecedented times. If you told me 10 months ago when I was starting this blog that I would be ann-swering a question like this one, I absolutely would have said you were crazy! If you told me I would be working from home for several weeks, every restaurant and store in the area would close, and every one would be mandated to stay home, I would have laughed in your face.
For the purposes of this blog I am focusing on my activities and tips for staying sane during a time like this. I cannot ann-swer questions about the virus itself or about when things will return to normal, because along with all of you, I am literally taking this day by day. I am trying to filter through information in the news and take only what I believe will be most beneficial for me to know.
Almost immediately when quarantine began I started journaling. For me quarantine ‘began’ when school closed Friday March 13th in order to accommodate families with children in Montgomery County (where I live) where all schools were closing due to a few Corona cases already being documented. I am definitely not journaling because I think children will want to read about me in their history books 30 years from now. I started this activity right away because I knew it would be something to keep me calm and give me some sort of purpose. I just write each day in the back of my 2020 planner what major activities I do i.e. at-home work outs, making meals, completing a puzzle, reading a book, watching a show/movie, home organization, etc. This brings me to my first question and ann-swer.
What are you doing at home?
I have some experience with time off due to my usual summer routine over the last 8 years of teaching. However, I have very little experience with every single store being closed, not being able to go to my gym or socialize, and basically being confined to my home for days on end. For me, the most important thing to do right away was prioritize my physical activity. There is no excuse to forget your fitness just because you cannot go to the gym. Actually, now I have a little more time each day to do something active, so I made sure to commit to that. Some days its just a mile or two walk. Other days I complete 1 or 2 whole workouts in my living room. It does not matter what it is or how long or how intense, it just matters that you keep those routines. Something else I have done every day is cook. Making meals and doing dishes can easily become bothersome and frustrating but it also helps keep a routine and helps me pass plenty of time. Another major personal accomplishment was completing a 1,000 piece puzzle! Thanks to a dear friend, I had this activity to occupy several hours. I ordered another puzzle as soon as I finished.
As a teacher, I do have a few hours a day during the week where I log in to meetings, contact families, and work on paperwork. It has been challenging to try and do my job from my phone and computer when I am so used to human interaction and supporting my students in person, but 3 weeks into all of this everyone is doing their best and families, just like me, are taking this one day at a time. In order to practice what I am preaching to my students and families I have also made a goal to read 1-2 hours each day. This has been rather lovely because in all honestly the only time of the year I typically finish any book is during the summer. So far I have completed 1 book and started a 2nd. I hope to read a few more during my time in quarantine.
Another thing to consider with this extra time at home: cleaning and projects. Of course this does not sound like the most fun (for some people), but what a good time to complete a project you have been putting off, clean that spare bathroom that always gets neglected, or finish that spreadsheet of addresses you have been meaning to create for a year! For the past few weeks I have tried to pick one thing every day or every other day to clean: each bathroom, vacuum each floor, the kitchen, etc. I also started a couple organization projects that, even in the summer with lots of time off, I managed to avoid. Now is the time! Make a list and start these tasks! You will pass time and feel great with each task you get to cross of your list.
What about Disney? Again?
Let me take a moment during this blog post to talk about some of the aspects of this situation that just plain suck. I pride myself on my life motto: positivity. However, it is always okay to call it out when things are shitty. It is also always okay to be sad, angry, or frustrated. What I think is not okay is living in those feelings all the time. But with this quarantine and social distancing and overall craziness, those negative moments and feelings are inevitable. I am definitely thinking daily about families with children who have behavioral challenges or more severe disabilities, moms who now have to balance working in their homes with parenting and homeschooling, elderly people who cannot see their relatives, people in the service industry who depend on customers and tips to pay their bills, brides and grooms and families who have to postpone or flat out cancel weddings that have taken years to plan, healthcare workers, grocery workers, and so many others who are still out there every day, literally risking their health, to work for and support others.
Even as I type this it makes the question I posed seem absolutely ridiculous. Like, how could I even think about my little Disney trip being canceled when all of this is going on. But I am allowed to be sad and angry. About one year ago my sister and I decided for our 30th birthday we wanted to go to Disney World in September 2019! Well, that plan came and went when a hurricane swept through Florida in early September. So, we made the most of it and moved on and rescheduled for early April 2020. Perfect time go everyone said! No hurricanes, not too hot yet, it will be wonderful. Then…Corona came and the Disney plan went. It sucks. We were so excited for this trip with our family and just cannot believe it is being cancelled again, and this time with little hope for a reschedule when we have no idea when anyone will be able to go anywhere again. But that is just it, it sucks and you live in that for a few moments and the you move on! Because in the grand scheme of this crisis and all there is to be grateful for, I cannot spend more than 5-10 minutes being bummed. My family is safe and healthy and right now that is truly all that matters.
How can we come together during this time apart?
In addition to many other things I never would have believed I definitely did not think I would ever be having a ‘girls’ night on video call using an app called Zoom. All of this seems so opposite of anything I have ever done. I am someone who thrives in social interactions rather than someone who avoids them. I feel so much joy bringing people together and being around family and friends who make me laugh and like to share stories and catch up on each other lives over some nachos and a margarita or pizza and wine. It definitely did not feel natural to ‘hang out’ with my closest friends on a group video chat. However, when one of our friends called in from Chicago with her new baby it made the call seem a little more normal because we probably would have called her in if we were all actually hanging out in person. So in these times of uncertainty and strangeness it is nice to see people continuing to connect even if it is on the computer screen.
It definitely helps to feel connected when you know literally everyone is experiencing this together. No one is exempt from social distancing or quarantine. Politicians, celebrities, co-workers, neighbors, and everyone in between are doing the exact same thing: staying home. Ironically at a time with so much distance, we are actually more connected than ever. I have never looked forward more to work meetings because I get to see my colleagues and connect. Who knew we would all see the inside of each others living rooms and personal lives? I try and text or call or video family members every day just to check in and say hi. Although it is normal to feel overwhelmed right now and confused it is nice to have a little extra time to connect with family and be reminded to not take anyone in our lives for granted.
As I enter week 3 of quarantine with no real end in sight, other than the arbitrary date we have been told (recently updated for the 5th time), I hope everyone is staying safe and sane and continuing to practice the self-care habits they had before this or developing new ones to help get through this. *See posts on self-care and fitness on my blog* We will get through this strange time and hopefully come out of it more aware of our behaviors, more connected to our loved ones, and more grateful than ever for nights out with friends, trips to the store, hugging, and so much more.
XO Stay healthy, stay safe, stay home.