Coffee Break #10
So how are you holding up, friends? Life is certainly a doozy right now, and I hope wherever you are reading this, that you are safe and healthy and most importantly…at home! Like most of you, I suspect, I’m hanging in there. Sometimes it’s just by a thread, but hanging in there nonetheless. I will admit that earlier this month…before the world seemingly changed forever…I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about in this month’s Coffee Break because things were just kinda chugging along. But now that my life (and probably your life too!) looks and feels a whole lot different, boy do I have a lot to share! So grab a cup of whatever you like to drink, and let’s catch up on life behind-the-blog!
Catch up on past Coffee Break posts HERE!
Our Quarantine Life
So…I am going to do my very best to keep this place positive and helpful and hopeful because that is what we all need right now. But indulge me…if you will…in a little dose of real life first.
I keep seeing memes and articles and stories on the news about how to fill your time while social distancing. Books to read. Projects to make. Series to binge. Closets to clean out. I can’t relate one bit. Greg is considered “essential personnel” and since he works in military supply and logistics, he’s beyond busy right now. So busy in fact, he’s working 6 days/week, 10 hours+ a day. And that childcare we hired to help with the kiddos so I could get work done during the day? Yea…she’s an older lady…so we’ve put her on hold for the next few weeks to keep her safe and healthy.
So…it’s me and the three kiddos. All day. Every day. And it’s awesome. Actually…it’s not at all awesome. But I’m trying to tell myself it’s awesome because attitude is everything, right? Right.
There are definitely silver-lining moments. Like our daily walks and a more relaxed schedule. That we’re not running from event to event with our hair on fire. That Greg has a steady job, and I have a flexible schedule. That we are safe at home with a pantry full of food and enough craft supplies to keep us busy for ages. And…at least right now…that we and our families and friends are healthy.
But between the exhaustion (we’re trying to get Jack to sleep through the night and it’s going miserably), the fighting (Henry and Sam are oil and water), the anxiety (this situation is downright scary) and the mess (I have a permanent layer of Cheerios on my floor and slime on my counters), it’s becoming harder and harder to keep it all together. I think I’ve yelled at my kids and cried myself to sleep more in the last 3 weeks than I probably have in the last 3 years. I recently told Greg at the end of a particularly challenging day that “all the wheels have come off the bus, and I honestly have no idea how to even start putting them back on.” For a gal who prides herself on reining in the chaos and getting.stuff.done, that’s a super unusual, uncomfortable, and unnerving feeling.
I’m not telling you all this to whine. (Well…maybe a little…because we all need to whine every now and then, right?) But really…I’m just trying to keep it real. And remind you (and me!) that we’re going to be okay.
If you don’t have a homeschooling room or schedule set up, it’s okay. I don’t either.
If you wake up each day and have absolutely no idea how you’re gonna make it to bedtime, it’s okay. I’m in the same boat.
If you’re struggling because you’re just not cut out for 24/7 with your kids, it’s okay. Me either.
If you find it hard to laugh, play, sleep or do anything because the anxiety about getting sick or loosing a loved one is paralyzing, it’s okay. I’m worrying too.
Just today, I wrote “One Day At a Time” in my monthly PowerSheets because that’s my new mantra. One day…one craft…one fight…one school assignment…one meal…at a time. One foot in front of the other. We’ll make it through…right? Right.
Things That Are Saving My Sanity Right Now
Although I legitimately feel overwhelmed with life right now, there are some things that are helping me through our long days at home and the scary news cycle. Specifically:
- Audio Books. I am doing my best to limit traditional screen time, but there have been many nights when I’m trying to get dinner on the table yet everyone seems to need me or be crying at the same time. To settle everyone down, I’ve been pulling up audio versions of Dr. Seuss books through our library, and it’s Ah-MAZING how everyone…even the baby…will sit and listen.
- Making Our Daily Walks More Fun. Even though the hassle of getting shoes and jackets and the stroller and the helmets and the snacks sometimes feels like too much effort just for a walk, I’m finding the trouble is worth it…every time. We are ALL benefitting from regular time outside, but the novelty has started to wear off, especially for my oldest (9 years old). To make our daily walks a bit more fun for him (and me, honestly), we’ve started playing games while we walk:
- I Spy
- ABC Seek and Find – Look for things that start with each letter as you walk: Asphalt, Birdhouse, Crosswalk. Just a head’s up….Q is pretty hard to find!
- Add-On Story – Each person adds just a single sentence to a story and you go back and forth and back and forth. It’s amazing where the story ends up!
- Character Game – Essentially 20 questions (all “yes or no” questions) for cartoon and movie characters that kids know.
- Singing songs in the round
- Embracing Technology. I’m pretty sure most of us are using technology in new and fun ways these days, which has certainly been another silver lining to this whole experience. Whether it’s helping me feel more connected or carving out some extra quiet time, I’m here for it. Here are just a few ways we’ve started using it:
- Family Happy Hours via Zoom
- Virtual Story Time – My sister has started reading my 3 year old stories via FaceTime and he can’t get enough!
- Virtual Birthday Party – My oldest just had a birthday, and we threw him a party via Zoom with tons of family and old friends (I shared all my tips for making it work in last weekends newsletter!)
- Virtual Classes – Sam’s gymnastics gym is doing online classes a few times/week. At first I was super skeptical, but Sam loves dancing along and seeing his teacher’s face!
- News Off, Data On. I’ve had to turn the news off in recent weeks because it was just a bit too much for my anxiety. (And I’m kind of a news “junkie,” so that was a big step for me!) However, I don’t want to keep my head completely in the sand. I’ve found that checking in daily on the data is a (slightly) easier way to keep abreast of what’s going on. This New York Times page is my favorite because you can drill down by state and even county to get a visual representations of what’s going on and where.
Projects to Keep My Kiddos Busy
Even with a completely stocked craft room of raw materials, I didn’t have a ton of stuff to keep the kiddos busy day in and day out. Although we’re making our share of paper airplanes, toilet paper roll crafts, etc, it has been nice to rely on some pre-packaged kits as well. Here are the ones I’ve bought recently (or already had) and we’re loving!
- Slime Kit – This, by far, is the favorite around here. We pull it out at least every other day. I love that it comes packed with lots of mix-ins, and it’s actually pretty easy to keep contained and clean up!
- Paint Daubers – Both my older kiddos don’t love getting their hands messy but love the concept of painting. These are easy to pull out when the painting urge hits and put away without too much clean up!
- Kinetic Sand – We love kinetic sand. I know some parents think it’s too messy, but our experience is quite the opposite! It reminds me a lot playing with play-dough but is much more relaxing and easier to clean up!
- Aqua Beads – So I’ll be honest…my kiddos love the idea of these projects, but the beads are pretty little and they get frustrated quickly. However, I personally find them really relaxing and am often left working at it long after the kids lose interest. The only downside is they take a super long time to dry, so they aren’t for kids who need instant results!
- Mind Blowing Science Kit – We’ve had this one for a while, and I love that the experiments are easy and work, and the kit includes everything you need.
The blog-o-sphere is chockfull of great ideas too! Here are a few of our favorites so far:
- This playdough recipe – super easy and really fun to make! I’ll never go back to buying Play-Dough again!
- A lot of the paper projects on this site, specifically the gliders, the Pokemon evolution craft, and the spinners.
- The ideas on these Instagram accounts:
Even if quarantine guidelines are lifted before summer hits, the reality is the kids are home with us through the Fall when school (hopefully) starts back up again (whoa – that’s a gut punch!). I’m working on a way to help keep all these ideas organized and accessible and hope to share what I come up with soon!
1-Hour Organizing Projects You Can Tackle While On Quarantine
If you do find yourself as part of the population who is more bored than frazzled, this really is a great time to knock out a bunch of projects that have been sitting on your good ol’ To Do List. If you’re looking for some easy projects to tackle, here are some favs:
I’ve filled out my April/Spring PowerSheets and planned out all my blog projects and posts for the month ahead, but I am genuinely not sure if or how any of them will get done. Life right now feels full and hard and we haven’t even started up homeschooling yet (which is set to start next week). That said…one day at a time, right? I am going to do my best to carve out work time…even if it’s just a tiny bit…every single day…because I need it. So I hope to be here on my usual schedule as much as possible. And if I’m not…just assume I am busy teaching 3rd grade multiplication and losing my ever lovin’ mind 🤪
Hang in there, friends! We’ve got this 👊🏻!