Life has been crazy lately. I won’t lie to you and say that I have been handling everything super well through these quarantine days. However, my state of mind has improved immensely in the weeks since this whole thing started.
Does that mean everything is working perfect and smooth? Uh, no. It just means that I am dealing with everything much better now than I was in the first few days.
I am homeschooling my two kids while my husband and I both work. Trying to keep up with all the extra laundry and household chores and not to mention additional meal prep and finding creative ways to keep us occupied and our mental health strong. Staying active…checking on and helping out neighbors when possible….keeping up with work tasks…..and there is more, but you get the drift.
It has been a lot.
Here are the essentials I am focusing on that are helping me stay focused on what is important right now (in no particular order.)
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1. Moving My Body
From walks several times per day to at-home fitness videos and workouts, staying active has literally saved my life. First thing in the morning, I go on a walk or run by myself (typically with an audiobook in my ears) and then we go for a short walk at least one other time during the day as a family.
Then, I try and do a video workout with resistance training 2-3 times/week. This is really helping my body deal with stress and uncertainty. Am I trying to lose a bunch of weight or get into the best shape of my life? No. But I HAVE made a goal not to let myself gain weight during this time, and that is helping to make this surreal world we are living in that much more tolerable. Favorite online workouts: My friend, Anna’s Instagram page (@lifegirlfitness_) and these Youtube workouts.
Separate from focusing on my own health, I am also encouraging and facilitating lots of exercise from every member of the family. From daily family walks to lots of outside soccer tournaments and baseball games, the whole family is committed to moving around as much as possible. I think this is a crucial element to staying healthy and feeling our best right now.
2. Sticking to a Daily Schedule
Wake up time, learning time, work time, snack time….it took a couple days but we have fallen into a routine, and I have worked hard to keep it going. This is helping us not to eat too much and also for my kids to know what is expected of them each day. Hungry now? Oh good, snack time is in 10 mins. Tired of schoolwork? Oh good, it’s almost time for playtime.
Weekdays are pretty scheduled and weekends have been more relaxed, allowing everyone to sleep later, eat a few more treats, have some extra TV time and also watching movies as a family. We are all stressed and struggling but sticking to a schedule has been life-giving.
Here is what a typical quarantine day looks like for us:
5:30-6:30 am My quiet time reading and/or devotional
6:30-7 am Wake up kids, get dressed and breakfast
7:00 -7:30 am Me: walk or run while kids: watch a PBS kids show; Mr. BLP wakes up and starts getting ready for the day
7:30-8 am Me: freshen up and get dressed and prep for home learning (print out daily schedules, worksheets, etc. as needed), kids: finish PBS kids show and brush teeth
8:00-10 am Kids: Schoolwork at dining room table while I work on blog posts, etc from my laptop.; Mr. BLP works in the front room/office
10-11:00 am Snack time and daily family walk 10-11 (Mr. BLP typically takes a work break and joins us)
11-12:30 pm Finish schoolwork; me working on my laptop and stopping to help kids with schoolwork as needed
12:30-1:30 Lunch Break (sometimes I eat first and then read out loud while the kids eat)
1:30-3:30 Play outside or any active play
3:30-4 pm Kids check in and take a break; snack time
4-5 pm Me workout while kids either continue outside play or watch PBS kids show or read inside if bad weather; also this is chore time for them depending on the day
5-6 pm Me: make dinner; kids: free play, finish up chores for the day or reading time
6-8 pm Dinner and baths, read out loud together and/or kids practice reading on their own
8-9:30 pm Kids bedtime and adult free time; read my book or watch TV with Mr. BLP
9:30 pm My bedtime, Mr. BLP typically continues working for several hours
3. Working Remotely With Our “Real Life” Teachers
I am not a teacher, but I am certainly playing one right now. It’s hard and I give myself some credit for stepping up to this role of homeschooling (or really “crisis schooling”).
However, I have not fooled myself into thinking I could be doing anything remotely close to what I am doing right now without my kids’ “real life” teachers. They, in addition to other of my teacher friends, are giving me so much incredibly valuable advice, guidance and support right now.
I have always been in awe of elementary school teachers, but now I am even more impressed. Thanks Teachers!
4. Listening to Audiobooks
I am a book person so escaping into a book is a necessity for my mental health. However, I am having trouble focusing on words on a page right now. Audiobooks to the rescue!
Having a good book going has definitely helped encourage my daily walks, but I also listen while folding laundry or doing other mundane household activities.
Here are a few of my favorites and this is the one I have been listening to and loving the past couple weeks. In addition, I am taking a break from heavier topics and sticking to more escapist reading. It’s necessary.
5. ALL the Technology and Devices
I have had my moments of frustration with technology the past few weeks but to be honest, right now it is saving my life. From kids learning tools to FaceTime for talking to (and seeing!) my sweet elderly mother, our lives would not be functioning well right now without it.
I typically limit my kids screen time quite a bit, but we have loosened those rules significantly, and it is a tool I am leaning on to give us a little breathing room. That does not mean we are completely vegging out in front of the TV or playing video games all day, but just that I am leaning heavily on screens for this time (temporarily).
Many companies are offering free access to learning apps right now and here is a great list of those.
6. Letting Go of What I Can’t Control
I know this has been going around and we all have been hearing it on repeat from experts the past few weeks. I also know that it is SO much easier said than done. I am the most impatient person known to man and this experience is truly testing my patience.
After the first few stressful days, I sat down and had a talk with myself and made a decision. I could live as this anxiety-ridden stress ball for this time (and it was clearly looking like we were in it for the long haul) OR I could give over what I can’t control to God and just try and enjoy the added family and home time together. Deciding on and doing the latter has made me feel so much more relaxed and able to handle things as they come.
Does that mean I am 100% calm, cool and collected all the time. Nope. It just means I am doing so much better by getting up every day and doing what is in front of me and not worrying so much about the tasks left undone.
When I do allow myself to get frustrated, something that works for me is a deep breath and repeating one of these prayer mantras: “Be still and know that I am God” or “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
7. Being Smart about Cooking and Grocery Shopping
Thank God for our amazing grocery stores. In our area, they have largely kept us supplied with plenty. I did a couple trips to stock up and then have really tried not to go back by stocking lots of pantry stable foods (like pasta, rice, beef and chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and canned tuna) and freezing many things (like meat, milk, cheese, bread, and ham).
Keeping my kids on a strict snack and meals schedule has also helped us from going through food super fast (not to mention staying healthy and largely not turning to food too much for comfort). I always cook a ton but am trying to be more creative and use everything, letting nothing go to waste.
We are definitely baking more than normal, but I would rather my kids have home baked goods for treats rather than store bought sweets like candy or cookies.
8. Seeking out Good News
This is a huge one and one that has helped me immensely. From funny memes and tweets to this gloriousness from Jon Krasinski, making time to laugh and focus on the good has kept me going on the toughest of days. I am keeping up with the news and trying to stay informed (as we all should), but just being intentional about allowing all the negativity to build up. There are so many wonderful, heart-filling stories out there and if you allow them to, they can balance out the bad stuff.
All in all, we have had our good days and our bad days while in quarantine, but these are the things that have contributed significantly to moving forward in a positive way.