March 2020 will forever be known as the month the world came to a screeching halt. A virus managed to completely change everything that we once knew. Schedules that were filled with activities, social engagements and commitments were deleted. Children stopped attending school and parents became the sole teacher, playmate, cook, dance instructor, soccer coach, etc....
I happen to be a person that thrives on activities and schedules. My three daughters, ages 9, 7 and 22 months at the time of the “shutdown”, were busy with extracurriculars and school. Not to mention I was a member of the PTO at their school, worked from home, was an active member at our church, and was in the midst of creating a fundraising campaign for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) for my oldest daughter who is a Type 1 diabetic. Being busy was what we knew. When we were together we spent quality time with one another and appreciate the time we had. We were happy and enjoyed our chaotic but full lives. I believe that my family represented a great majority of Americans pre pandemic.
Once Covid 19 hit, this all stopped. Initially, I think like many people I was eager to take on this new challenge of homeschooling and creating a new sense of normal. I had so many ideas. My youngest of course would get a new sensory box every day! Certainly, no iPads during the day and I was going to rock homeschooling because I had a background in education. We would also take daily nature hikes, have long philosophical conversations about the metamorphosis of a butterfly and my kids would yearn for the month that the world shut down and we got to spend every waking moment together…. Also it was only 30 days… we can do anything for 30 days, right?
Week one started strong. I was patient, I was engaged, and everyone was loving the new sleeping in chill vibe that was our home. I created daily schedules, the kids had to get dressed and brush their teeth everyday and we had daily outside activity. But as the weeks dragged on, I got tired. Like really tired. My husband is a fireman so he was on shift every third day leaving the kids and I to our own devices. It wasn’t long before I looked forward to that quick trip to the grocery store, just for a little “alone time.”
About two weeks into the 30 day shut down my kids no longer saw the point in getting dressed, teeth brushing was a struggle but I stayed committed to that one and outside activity became less and less as the heat grew hotter and hotter (we live in the desert aka the surface of the sun). Working from home was nearly impossible with a 22 month old constantly needing me and homeschooling, which required a great deal of assistance from me, was growing increasingly difficult. It wasn’t long before it all came crashing down.
The downfall came shortly after the infamous fraction meltdown of 2020. Why in the world with calculators and Alexa’s do children need to understand fractions? But being in the somewhat positive mindset at the time, I was determined to teach my 9 year old how to do this! Yelling, tears and cursing followed what I deem to be a difficult concept for an adult let alone a child. I then thought to myself, what am I doing? Why am I torturing her and myself? And then I quit because frankly this sucked!
Soon after said incident my sensory boxes were turned into an iPad, our “homeschooling” turned into an iPad and our nature walks turned into an iPad. Also those philosophical talks we were going to have turned into, you guessed it an iPad. And it wasn’t long before my almost two year old began to eat popsicles for breakfast because the insistent wining was not worth it. Needless to say, I had failed, and failed epically.
Our quarantine may not have been what I envisioned but I at least hope my kids remember that they were loved and safe. My husband and I are so blessed to be able to feed and clothe them. To continue to have careers and one another. My kids may have eaten too much candy, have a very limited knowledge of fractions and other math concepts, lacked some personal hygiene and engaged in way too much screen time, they were and are loved. My hope for them is that looking back they only remember the good things, like the silly dance parties, baking and playing with each other.
Life will never be the same. Having the ability to return to some normalcy, namely school in August 2020, has been wonderful but there is always an underlying worry about illness or “exposures”. I am happy to report my now two year old traded in the popsicles for breakfast for the much healthier donut option, my ten year old learned fractions from her teacher and my middle child is expert level on Minecraft thanks to her increased screen time. And although a little worse for the wear, we made it through the other end… almost.