It seemed like a good idea
by Katie Pearn
If I had to pick one interaction that best summarizes my quarantine experience with two small children and a temporarily unemployed husband, it would be a recent exchange with my five year-old daughter after she had finished a bath.
“Ok honey, it’s time to get your pants on,” I said, in my most patient mommy voice.
“Why?” she retorted without a second thought.
I opened my mouth to give a wise, parental answer; but to my surprise, I took pause. The truth is, the more I thought about it, the less I could convincingly explain why we had to wear pants when we had been stuck in our house for six weeks with no end in sight, and literally nowhere to go. She did not wear pants the rest of the day.
Life with children is challenging, and it’s even more so during a global pandemic when we have to stay in our homes. My husband and I have found that to get through it, we’ve needed to increase our communication, extend frequent grace, show lots of love, and have plenty of humour and creativity.
With this in mind, I would like to share some of the things we have tried to keep our household happy and somewhat sane over our six-week quarantine journey with a five and a three year-old.
Some of these ideas have been fun and enriching, while others were perhaps better in theory than in practice. Our “It seemed like a good idea at the time” experiences:
It’s week two of quarantine and this mom is ready to get things done. My son is now three and everything I have ever read about potty training boys says three is the magic number. It also says that you should attempt it when you have nowhere else to be for a week. In theory there literally could not be a better time to go for it! There is however, one little variable the literature didn’t consider: my son. He has no interest in it whatsoever, and no amount of promised chocolate, TV or praise has been able to convince him that this is as great an idea as mommy thinks it is.
Mommy has been cleaning the floors a lot more than usual, and Daddy finally installed that utility sink Mommy has been asking for all these years.
Family walks during the months of March and April
One thing we wanted to start doing together was going for family walks after dinner now that we are all home and can eat earlier. Well, Calgary didn’t get the memo about spring, and we have been living in a snow globe for five weeks.
It ended up taking our family twice as long to get everyone out the door as it did to actually walk around the block, so we’ve scrapped that idea until we no longer need snowpants.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favour of baking with your kids. It teaches them life skills, practical math, and you all get rewarded with a sweet treat. The problem is when your children want to bake something every day because it is so fun, and you can’t share the baking with anyone because you are self-isolating. Not the best plan when you are trying to reign in your “quaranteating” and trying to not gain the quarantine 15. (Tip: the one thing that has been safe to bake is play dough. Even though my kids still eat it, at least I don’t).
Our “I think these are worth keeping” experiences:
Alternative uses for furniture
Did you know that you can build a jungle gym or an obstacle course out of your couch cushions? Our kids love jumping from cushion to cushion and seeing how fast they can go. When they’re done with that, throw a few blankets on top of those stacked cushions and you have a magical fort that will provide hours of fun. It will also provide hours of cleanup, but it’s worth it.
Daytime bath time
This is probably one of our most successful ideas during this quarantine. We used to reserve bath time for before bed, pre-Corona, but moving it to the afternoon has given us some much-needed space in the day while our son naps and our daughter enjoys her own little world with her toys in the tub.
Many photographers have been going out to neighbourhoods and capturing social-distanced portraits of families outside their homes, often at drastically reduced rates or to support good causes. It’s a great opportunity to get a few nice (or comical should you so choose) family photos to capture this unique time in our history.
It’s been amazing to see how many companies and individuals have creatively migrated their services online. From children’s illustrators giving drawing lessons, to online dance classes, there is so much talent and expertise to be found.
Now I know these experiences are focused on doing things with our children, which is so important, but my husband and I have also learned how important it is that we take time to be with each other, and to spend time alone. We’ve had to figure out the activities that fill us up spiritually, relationally, physically and mentally, and try to prioritize those throughout the week.
We are by no means experts at any of this. Some days, and even weeks are better than others. We, like everyone else, are figuring it out as we go, and doing the best we can with the time we’ve been given. The busyness (usually self-inflicted) of life pre-Corona, has fallen away for our family in this season, and it has helped us find a renewed sense of what is truly important: our relationship with God, with each other and with those we love.
So whether our day has been the “I cleaned the grout in my shower with a toothbrush” level of productivity, or whether we have struggled to get pants on, we are grateful to be walking this new road together.
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