Adjusting to the New “Stay at Home” Life
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I needed a change of pace, so I thought I’d take a break from working on my normal blog posts and write up something about what we’ve been doing during this time of social isolation.
A few minutes ago, I found and printed a couple The Little Mermaid coloring sheets, per my 3-year-old’s request, then found the girls some crayons. Before sitting down at my desk, I went to the kitchen and made myself another cup of coffee, then grabbed the last slice of key lime pie — leftover from Easter — and brought it to the office.
Before I had a chance to type the first sentence, the girls were already fighting over who gets to color on Kenna’s coloring page, which was on the kids’ desk. I set both of their papers on the desk side-by-side — problem solved.
Two seconds later, they both moved to the floor. *sigh*
As I am typing this sentence, they are happily coloring on their own papers, although it will only last a few more minutes before they lose interest and run off to find something else to do….
By the end of the day, my office floor will be covered in random bits of paper, broken crayons, and whatever toys the girls brought in and quickly neglected.
Soon, I’ll find them a snack, then I’ll bundle everyone up and we’ll go outside to check the mailbox. Most likely, it’ll be too cold to play and we’ll soon be back inside.
Oh, where are you, Spring?!
I’ll be honest, I love being at home. I like the daily routine of it. Even more, I love having my daughters at home with me. But if I thought we spent a lot of time at home before the Coronavirus crisis struck…I was wrong.
It was exactly one month and two days ago that we bought our new house. This was the exact same time that schools were talking about closing, and people started social distancing in earnest. Suddenly, we’re stuck in a new house, in a new town, where we don’t know anyone, and we can’t even go visit our family anymore.
At first, we were too busy unpacking boxes and organizing the house to be all that bothered by it. The girls were happy to have more room to run around, and most of the days were nice enough that we could get outside for a little while. We are in the country now, so we can get outside without seeing another soul.
Unfortunately, it’s been snowing off and on again over the past few days, and the wind is a little too chilly to play outside. Soon, though, the temperatures will start trending upward, and we’ll be heading into Summer. Social distancing will be much more tolerable when we can fully enjoy the outdoors again.
But is the life of a stay at home mom really any different during the COVID-19 pandemic? For the most part, no, we have tried to stick to our normal routine. But at the same time, everything is different.
We have spent the past month adjusting to a new normal. Between a brand new house and an entirely different world outside of it, it’s been a pretty big adjustment. But this is our new normal — at least, for now.
I won’t pretend I have it all figured out, because I don’t. I just wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned along the way — both from my own experience and from that of others — to make this crazy situation a little more tolerable.
First of all, accept the new ‘normal’.
While I feel that having babies and toddlers at home is probably the most challenging stage under normal circumstances, I consider myself pretty lucky that I don’t have school age kids right now. I know that having to adjust to distance learning has been hard on a lot of you.
In comparison, the adjustment is pretty minimal for moms like myself, who were already staying at home with babies and toddlers, before we went into crisis mode.
However, even though we are stay at home parents, we still need to get out of the house every once in a while. Before this, we used to take Dan’s grandpa out to eat once a week. We visited our family every week, whether we went to their house or they came to ours. And I tried to bring the girls on a weekly outing, either to the library’s story time or a play group, so they could interact with other kids.
Luckily, kids are pretty good at adapting to change, and they have accepted this as our new ‘normal’.
I’m not saying they enjoy the isolation, but they have adapted surprisingly well.
We need to accept that life won't go back to the way it used to be anytime soon. In some ways, it will never be the same.Click To Tweet
I think a lot of us were in denial a month ago. Do I hope that this will all be over in the next couple weeks? Absolutely! But I also think we all need to accept that life won’t go back to the way it used to be anytime soon. In some ways, it will never be the same.
Related: Help! I have to work at home during the COVID-19 pandemic
Embrace the chaos!
Okay, so this is something that I still need to work on. It’s hard to fully embrace the craziness that comes with having two little tornadoes in the house, but — here’s the thing — I know that it won’t last forever. So I’ve been working on embracing it.
Whether you’re a stay at home parent or a working parent who was suddenly forced into working from home, things just got a lot crazier in your life. Hopefully you were able to somewhat stick to your old routine, but with everyone at home all day everyday, it’s bound to get a little crazy.
When things start getting chaotic, you might find yourself feeling anything from a little stressed out to completely overwhelmed.
This is a good time to stop, take a deep breath, and look around. What do you see?
Do you see dishes piled up in the sink because everyone is at home all day long now, eating all the food on all the dishes? Or, do you see a family that gets to eat meals together?
Do you see toys covering every inch of the floor (and every other surface of the house)? Or, do you see the smiling faces of those human tornadoes, who are just happy to spend time with you?
I'm not saying to give up and let it all go when the mess gets out of control, but try to change your point of view a little and see what happens.Click To Tweet
Sometimes, we just need a shift in perspective. I’m not saying to give up and let it all go when the mess gets out of control, but try to change your point of view a little and see what happens.
Related: Work from home with kids – the ultimate guide
Take care of yourself.
You would think that spending more time at home means more time for self-care. Not always the case when you have kids!
If getting out of the house is part of your normal self-care routine, you might really be feeling the effects of social distancing right now. Being isolated from family and friends can really take a toll on your mental health.
These are not normal times, and you’re allowed to do whatever it is (within reason, of course) that will keep you from going into a dark place.
Sometimes, that means making time for the things you love…
A couple weeks of unpacking and organizing can burn a person out. By this point, I was getting anxious to do what I really loved, which is writing. Since I’m at home even more now, and my client work has slowed down, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time creating new content for my blog.
You might not have a lot of extra time, but when you do, make it count by doing something you enjoy — or by taking up a new hobby, learning a new skill….
Sometimes, that means taking a mental health break…
I sat down at my computer yesterday morning, ready to get back to work.
To my dismay, my entire website was down — not only was it down on the front end, but I couldn’t log in at all. And, oh yeah, I hadn’t gotten around to backing it up yet. Like, ever.
If you’ve ever poured your heart and soul into something, only to think you’ve lost it all, you might understand my panic….
After tech support got it back up and running (whew!), I immediately installed a plugin to create regular backups, then I walked away from it all.
I sat down at the table with my girls and we all played with slime. It was just what I needed to reset, and after lunch, I was eager to sit down with my laptop again.
…and always, that means having a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
We all need to have something to look forward to every day. Even if it’s as simple as our morning cup of coffee, working on the new skill we learned while in quarantine, or spending some time relaxing on the couch after the kids are in bed.
Related: 8 Easy self-care ideas for busy work at home moms
Summing it up
If you skipped to the end (I don’t blame you at all!), here’s the gist of it…
First of all, you need to accept that this is the new ‘normal’, at least for the time being, and even learn to embrace even the messiest moments. And self-care might look a little different for everyone, but it is important, no matter how you do it.
We all need to have something to look forward to every day, even if it's as simple as our morning cup of coffee.Click To Tweet
It’s now been five hours since I started typing up this blog post, and we’ve since had a lot of crazy moments. We’ve thrown in a little fun, too. And now, I’m looking forward to tucking the girls into bed and spending a little time with Dan when he gets home from work!
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