Parenting During Quarantine

I thought I’d share what our day looks like during quarantine. During the day, it’s just me and our kiddos (3 & 4 years old) as my husband is considered an essential worker. Upon being laid off and the daycare closing, I was a bit nervous that I’d be an absolute wreck. But I’m alive, they’re alive and we’re actually doing alright.

They wake up at 6:30/7am. I let them do whatever the hell they want besides join a gang, sling dope or anything that stands in the way of me having a hot coffee and 15 minutes to myself to wake up.

I’ll put together breakfast, throw my phone away and eat with them. We talk about lots of interesting things — so interesting that sometimes, I don’t even have a CLUE what they’re talking about. They bring their dishes to the kitchen, get dressed then brush their teeth while moaning and groaning about how tired they are. They like to switch things up though so they may also go on about how unfair the world is. I say encouraging things like feel free to go back to bed, or you’re absolutely right, while cleaning whatever mess is leftover.

Then we turn on the TV. Yeah, I said it. I open YouTube, search for Cosmic Kids yoga and then I pick one neither of them asked for. I mean, when the stars align and they actually agree on one, I let them have that one instead. Either way, I do it with them on one mat because we only have one. This results in me taking accidental blows from elbows, hands or feet until I cave and move my old, inflexible body onto the hardwood floors. Once that’s over, I know my shower is right around the corner.

I have a little activity station set up in the kitchen equipped with magazines, scissors, glue, construction paper, pencil crayons, markers, washable workbooks, tracing and colouring worksheets, magic sand and playdoh toys. I’ll ask them if they want to scrapbook, play with sand, colour/cut out pictures or do their washable workbooks. They pick and grab what they need themselves OR assert their independence by implying all those options suck and they’d rather play downstairs. Whatever the answer, I go jump in the shower.

I make sure to change into comfy clothes but try to avoid pj’s, I also put on make-up and dry my hair (at least one or the other) because it makes me feel good. I think the important part is just feeling fresh and so clean, clean.

Afterwards, I sort of wing it. If we bake, then I use those goods as bribery to finish their lunch. If I have laundry to do, I throw on some music and get to it. If I’m feeling particularly generous, I’ll even play kid’s music (the wooorst) like Going On A Bear Hunt. They make a game out of it by listening to the words and doing what it says. We may read stories, do whatever activity they haven’t already done or if they’re playing really well together, I just get caught up with other household tasks.

Pro tip: if your kids are fighting like cats and dogs, use the threat of the Get-Along Shirt. We only used it once but now when they’re telling on each other and/or being all around whiney, I say you have 2 choices: Get-Along Shirt, or you both hug and say you’re sorry. I also remind them that they are brother and sister — best friends. They pick the latter, hug and say sorry, then play well together again (until they inevitably don’t). Fingers crossed that this works forever (it won’t).

Lunch rolls around. It’s the same as breakfast. Talk, 10 minute tidy. Then it’s… QUIET TIME. One GLORIOUS hour of quiet time. Sterling sleeps. Cailin either colours or indulges in Where’s Waldo or The Gold-Bug books. I read, or screw around on my phone because I never learn.

We go outside to the backyard and play there. If the weather is terrible, we go for a drive and sing songs together. Sometimes, we do both. They have a shower or bath every other day, usually after dinner. But if they’re having a rough go or sOoOoOoOOOOOOoOooOoOOO bored, bubbles and bath toys usually fix it. It can take up a good chunk of time (and it’s one less thing to do later). Before you know it, it’s time to make dinner. The key for me here is, every day, I make sure to have the house in order and dinner on the table for exactly 5:30pm.

It keeps me busy, motivated and it makes me feel accomplished. I need a goal to work towards, no matter how mundane. Also, I gave myself 4 weekly tasks: deep cleaning the bathrooms, laundry (fold wash and put away), a project (i.e: redoing the pantry, organizing under the sink, etc) and a completed grocery list for Sunday. Lame, I know. But again, it helps me stay motivated crossing these things off and keeps me busy when normally, I’d be struggling with what to do.

It’s not a perfect schedule but the routine works for us. When Shane comes home, we eat together as a family, bathe the kids, we take turns with stories for one-on-one time (Shane reads to Sterling one night, I read to Cailin that night and vice versa but mid-week we do it all together), and miraculously they’re both in bed by 7pm.

This is new for me, I definitely didn’t make dinner every night or have the house in order. I felt like so many tasks were stifling and not what I wanted to do. I was consumed with keeping the kids occupied and kicking myself if I felt there was more fun they could be having, more things they could be learning and doing, etc. But now, I’ve loosened the reigns on the latter and am holding myself to a higher standard on the former. Don’t get me wrong, vacuuming does not feed my soul, and I still want my kids to have fun, learn and do things… I’ve just accepted that work is valuable no matter what it is. I also realize that kids have fun and learn through everyday things. For example, those 50,000 questions they ask during a meal? You must have known the answer to at least one. And, if you don’t, you know Google does.

I thought I’d share incase this did help anyone, but it’s not here to make anyone feel bad either. As you’ve noticed, I’m a pretty hands off. I talk with my kids and help them, we have fun together but I’m not always entertaining them. We have days where we throw on a movie before breakfast, I skip a shower entirely, I don’t follow through with consequences if they fight me tooth and nail about getting dressed… I’ve just noticed that when I do the above, I feel better. And the most important thing about this quarantine is doing things that make YOU feel good. When you feel good, you’re better equipped to care for others and it sets a great example.

I hope you’re staying healthy, safe and sane. I’m here for anyone that is struggling or just wants to talk. Also, feel free to share some activities that are getting you through below.