Social Distancing: Week 5
We are now five weeks into staying home. We went for a drive yesterday, just to have a change of scenery and it was the first time I or my children have been in a car in five whole weeks.
We've been taking quarantining/social distancing really seriously, and so I have not seen anyone outside of my immediate family (other than through a screen) for five weeks. I'm a rule follower, my husband is a bit of a germaphobe, and two of my children plus my husband are considered high risk, so we are being very strict about keeping our distance, sanitizing our groceries, etc. I'm more of an introvert, so staying home hasn't been as difficult for me as for some of my extroverted friends, but after five weeks I'm starting to get a little antsy. The reports that this may go on much longer than originally anticipated are certainly discouraging, though I'm holding on to hope that we'll be able to have a somewhat normal summer. My children seem to be very content with our stay-at-home lives though, and have adjusted amazingly well. They have big imaginations and are great at entertaining each other, which has been a huge asset during this time period!
We've finished our first official week of virtual school (our district provided resources but didn't start teaching new material until this past week), and it went surprisingly well. We're primarily using google classroom and they are able to mostly self pace, which has worked well for us. The teachers provided a mix of activities and assignments that required being in front of a screen and hands on activities (subtraction bowling was a favorite)! My kindergartner had one class google hangout, and then had the opportunity to video chat one on one with some of the specials/electives teachers at his school, which he really enjoyed. After school is done for the day (we've been doing about an hour and a half to two hours of core subjects, and then electives for as long as they hold interest), we're heading to the backyard for the rest of the day (weather permitting). In the list of things I'm thankful for during this pandemic, our backyard rates pretty high.
I listened to a podcast (The Medium Talk) and read an article today (which I can no longer find), and both talked about how in times of high stress we often revert to habits from our younger years, which made a ton of sense. I (mostly) ditched soda years ago, but I've been drinking a Coke almost every day and have found myself staying up late to read books in one sitting (something I often did growing up). I've avoided social media and the news a lot this week, because it's been easier to just stay in the imaginary world of books than to deal with the current news.
The first week and a half or so, I couldn't concentrate on reading. I would read a few lines and then turn back to the news or scrolling through social media. Once the initial shock and adrenaline wore off and we started to settle into this a little bit more, I started working my way through books--the stash I picked up from the library right before everything shut down, Kindle books I've bought and never read, and ebooks from the library. I've been limiting my social media and news intake much more (honestly, Some Good News with John Krasinski is the only kind of news I want to watch right now) and I've read around twenty books since the quarantine started (frequently staying up until 1 or 2 am to finish, which I then regret in the morning). Highlights have been Diane Chamberlain's novels (The Dream Daughter, Big Lies in a Small Town, The Silent Sister), The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris, Educated by Tara Westover, and The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. I keep my e-books holds list from the library full and getting the email that I have a new book available is something to look forward to!
Life is different right now. It's strange and unusual and we don't know when normalcy will return. This video of the "New Normal" by the Holderness family feels like a really accurate assessment of life right now.
Despite the fact that getting groceries or passing a stranger on the sidewalk has become a whole thing, there is still lots to be thankful for. I'm thankful that we are able to self-quarantine, that we have a backyard to help with the endless amounts of energy, that my children are adjusting well, that I can still borrow library books electronically, that we have technology to help us connect to people outside of our house, that people are coming up with great memes to help us find humor in a hard time. Life certainly isn't perfect. It's strange and I'm tired. I have a lot of trouble waking up in the mornings, and feel exhausted regardless of how much I slept, I want to get back to normal, and I'm scared of what will happen if one of my family members does end up contracting this, despite all of our precautions. But--the more I focus on gratitude, limiting news to a reasonable amount, and opening myself up to new ways to connect with others (if you had asked me to video chat with you in February, I would have said "can't we just text?"), the more calm, patient, and optimistic I can be in the midst of this craziness.