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 👊🏻!
8 Comments on “Coffee Break #10”
Oh Megan, I hear your struggle! I also want to have a need for those “things to do in quarantine” lists. I have a 3.5 and almost 6 yr old and am working from home 8 hours a day. My husband is a teacher and has some work commitments a few hours a day for his classes, but he is mainly handling our childcare. He struggles with his mental health under the best of circumstances, so I’ve had to make do with what he can do for us, whether its multiple movies a day, pop tarts for snack time or frozen chicken nuggets for dinner. I so want to have the time and mental energy to spend this time on rainbow sorted projects with my kids and homemade bread. Not happening! We are healthy and financially stable and have everything we need, so my struggle isn’t huge in the big picture, but it’s still hard. We will get thru this! I am grateful for the extra time I’m spending with my kids and am especially thrilled every day I don’t have to get two kids out the door by 7AM. Silver linings, ha! I wish the best for you and your family and will definitely check out some of your recommendations. My 5 yr old has discovered audiobooks (free from library!) and will happily listen as long as we let him. He also has loved making Stop Motion videos (there’s a free Stop Motion App that makes it super easy) so maybe your oldest would like that. Though I imagine, like at our house, it’s the younger ones that need the entertaining! Will have to check out your play doh recipe (we have the same construction set!) I’ll keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. And thank you for you and your husband’s sacrifice to keep the rest of us safe.
PS. I started a ‘quarantine journal’ and have filled one page in 3 weeks. Hope future readers will see what is written between those lines, ha!
Me too! Jamie’s a postie so he’s working longer hours than ever before as well. I am grateful we are financially stable. I’m grateful no one I know is sick. I am grateful we have a roof over our head and food in our kitchen. And I am losing my mind. This is nuts! Heads up: the homeschooling takes it to the next level. If you get nothing at all done – at home, school, blog, exercise – THAT IS OK! (I’m still working on giving myself permission for that too).
I’m in a different boat than you. My kids have kids of their own and the ones that don’t are classed “essential” but are of the grocery clerk and fast food server variety – so no one thinks to thank them. And they go to work every day with no PPE and relying on everyone else to observe physical distance…. So I’m trying no to worry….
But I remember the days of trying to keep the kiddos from “killing” each other and somewhat entertained/occupied. Adding in the fear and tension everyone is living under, I still can’t imagine what parents are going thru today. And not getting any time off while just carrying on.
So give yourself a break – take a deep breath (in your own home or outside away from people 😉 ). Hopefully the kiddos will remember days of play and books and games, making messes and just being together and having mom to themselves. (strangely enough that’s what my kids seem to remember the most from those summers) In ten years you can tell them how terrifying this all was for you.
I too wonder where everyone is getting this extra free time?? I am trying to work from home, and my 22 yro is trying to finish up uni from home and stay connected to his buddies. Although I don’t have to home school him, trying to keep us both eating well and getting some exercise is challenging. (We are in Canada and it is snowing – again). Some days frozen ‘whatever’ is on the dinner menu. Have not found the balance of staying informed and getting too much news. Might try just turning it all off.
Give yourself some grace. You are doing great if you and the boys are still alive at the end of the day!! Any content you put up will be appreciated, but if you miss a posting, we understand.
Remember when we had hand sanitizer to spare, and could use it for removing sticky labels? Remember that? Back in the Dark Ages?
Or maybe just a few weeks ago, before the world changed.
I’m a CNA in a long-term care facility that hasn’t been hit yet, but it’s like standing at the bottom of the hill watching the avalanche roll down.
Suggestion: how about a mask tutorial? We have volunteers and church groups making them for us (I’ll spare you my rant on why this is even a thing), but a lot of facilities don’t have our level of community support. Might even be something that families could do together.
Hint: I personally find masks with string ties much more comfortable to wear for a full shift than ear loops. And allow for shrinkage in a hot dryer. And thanks, and carry on.
I feel your pain — well sort of. One thing for sure is that I’m so glad I don’t have kids around all day to try to keep entertained! I’ve said that more than once, believe me!!! All you young Moms out there will get through all this some how, some way. It doesn’t matter if the dishes are done or the bathrooms are a mess. Like you said — ONE . DAY . AT . A . TIME. Do what you can, when you can. That’s all anyone of us can do. Love reading your blog. It’s a great way for you to vent and you do it (without really whining!) beautifully! It’ll be over soon and we’ll get to begin a different and new normal way of life.
While I don’t have children, and I live by myself, I really do sympathize with the “where is all this free time the internet thinks I now have supposed to be coming from?!” I’ve been working from home since March 17th, with no warning and a very physically inadequate setup. I am so deeply thankful to have a job right now, but if anything I’m working more now that my job has physically encroached on my home. I would love to learn a new skill or write a book, or all the other random things that I’m supposed to have the time for now that I’m isolated at home, but I’m lucky if I finish work on time and don’t have to get back online. Plus, while I am genuinely thankful that a lot of my weekly activities like church, and dance class, and Bible Study, and friend/community groups have moved to ZOOM or similar platforms, trying to be constantly present in front of a camera is also bizarrely exhausting. I 100% agree with the walking outdoors thing. Just a bit of sunlight and movement is so important for maintaining a sense of the world still being out there, even if we’re supposed to be limiting our exposure as much as possible. We can *DO* this, even though it’s kind of awful right now. For the same of friends and family, and our communities, and the world, because social distancing only works if we *all* participate together. Thanks for the updates and honesty. 🙂
Dear Megan, you are wonderful! And all of us are in the same boat right now. All over the world. I live in Europe, our schools are closed, we have to stay at home all day, most shops are closed. Millions have lost their jobs. My kids are not as small as yours, they are teen boys and I normally work from home like you, I own a design business. Right now nothing really works, my kids are between bored, isolated and completely overburdened by schoolwork. I completed more homework lessons for my kids than ever before, struggling between laundry, fighting teenies, cleaning the house, working for my own business, getting meals on the table, caring for my elderly parents and much more.
My husband works 10+ a day, just as yours. But I am so thankful, that he has a job that provides us an income!
So good to read about others and their struggles, so I don’t feel alone in this war.
Love from Europe