Semi-organized chaos is the way I would describe our life for the past 4-5 weeks of physical distancing measures.
If you’re looking for the perfect recipe for life with two kids and two parents under one roof with nowhere to go, this is not that post.
At the same time, I’m not going to say that we’re suffering greatly. We are very, very lucky, and I recognize that.
My goal is to share our new daily “normal” in a way that doesn’t conceal the imperfections but also doesn’t magnify them, and that shares the good without making it seem like that’s how it is all the time.
I just want to be real with you. I hate internet-perfection.
Cast of characters
In case you’re new here, there are currently 4 humans in my house, including me:
- Jesse is my husband, and his job in the financial sector has moved completely to telework, so he spends his days in our semi-finished basement office.
- James is 5; he’s in JK (“maternelle,” since he goes to French school). We’ve started online classes for him in the mornings through his school. It’s… not perfect.
- Olivia is 3; she went to daycare until the closures started.
- And then there’s me! In non-pandemic times, I do a mix of freelance translation/editing and being the main parent for day-to-day kid stuff. Since school and daycare closed down, I’m looking after the kids full-time during the day.
Daily routine (such as it is)
I did the thing where I researched schedules and tried to find the perfect way to organize our days. But I kept my overachieving inclinations in check and tried not to go overboard.
Still, I did brainstorm several iterations of a possible schedule for our days. This was one… it is not tidy or pretty:
In the end, I’ve decided to (try to) follow two sources to guide our days:
- James’ school schedule, which is roughly 9 am to 10 am every morning. There is usually light homework and suggested activities, so I (try to) do that.
- The daily “blocks” recommended by Avital (The Parenting Junkie) in her recent video Organize Your Kids’ Day with These 7 Crucial Elements: play time, focus time, messy time, movement time, quiet time, family time, screen time.
Simplicity over perfection
I get overwhelmed very easily if I’m bombarded with ideas, suggestions, links, videos, schedules, and resources. It’s just too much, and my perfectionism and anxiety both kick in hard, trying to build the “perfect” way to live our lives.
It’s just too much.
Knowing this about myself, I’ve been very careful to limit what I let myself look at. I try to stick to the two sources I mentioned above. It may not be perfect, but if you struggle with anxiety and perfectionism, try to aim for simple over perfect.
Our very rough schedule
So, with all that said, here’s what our days tend to actually look like:
Act 1: Morning
- 7:30-8:30 am: Wake up sometime between 7:30 am and as late as the kids will let me sleep. (Jesse starts work at 9 am.) Curse myself for staying up past midnight watching Contagion, The Captive, or similar Netflix traps.
- 8:30-9:00 am: Chocolate milk for the kids; coffee for me. They play (read: begin living room destruction) for a bit.
- 9:00-10:00 am: James has class. (It’s a frustrating process at the moment, but that’s a story for another post.) Olivia gets tablet time — not an ideal solution (maybe?) but… it’s what works for now.
- 10:00-11:00 am: The three of us play together, or go outside, or do a craft. Also there’s a snack in there somewhere.
Act 2: Afternoon
- 12:00-1:00 pm: Lunch time. Jesse comes up and takes over for a bit, so that I can “exercise” (in theory — in practice, I have been retreating to the bedroom to be in the dark and quiet for a half-hour. I’m… rather introverted.)
- 1:00-4:00pm: This is a big chunk of time where I just try to keep us occupied and relatively happy. It depends what we did in the morning, but we might go for a walk, play in the sandbox, do a craft, bake cookies — NOT from scratch; literally the pre-made kind that requires minimal maternal frustration and results in prompt deliciousness — get their baths over with, do the learning activities recommended by James’ school… or lots of Netflix. It really depends how my mind and mood are doing that day.
- I forgot to mention the 2-3-4 cups of coffee that happen during the day.
Act 3: Late afternoon/evening
- 4:00-7:00pm: Supper gets made. Most of it gets eaten. Some ends up on the floor. Daddy plays with the kids after supper and I tidy up.
- 7:00-9:00pm: Bedtimes happen. We each focus on one kiddo, alternating nights.
- 9:00-??: I vegetate (like meditate but less trendy). We aim to go to bed at 11pm… but it’s really hard to go to sleep when we finally have peace and quiet and free time.
Some of it works; some of it doesn’t. I think the kids are happy. I think they’re learning. I do okay most days. I’ve started tracking my mood using a “year in pixels” printable — maybe I’ll share that in a future post.
The things that are falling through the cracks a bit are housework, blogging (me), and exercise (both, but mostly me).
(Why did I say housework? That’s always fallen through the cracks.)
But we’re managing, and James says he never wants to go back to school. (I’ve always been curious about homeschooling… he’s always said he wants to stay home. It’s an unexpected opportunity to try it out. Maybe that’s yet another future post.)
I recognize how privileged we are to have a parent who is able to work full-time from home while also having a freelancing parent who has the flexibility to not take on work for now. We are so lucky.
It’s not easy every day, but as a family of introverts (except maybe Olivia? too soon to say), we’ve adjusted quite well.
There’s a simplicity to this temporary cocoon we live in.
I find myself saying “If there’s time…” a lot less to the kids.
This situation is not idyllic by any means, for anyone, but there’s often a way to find the silver lining, or “flip the script,” as The Parenting Junkie puts it.
But still, pass the coffee. No, no, the whole pot, please.
Hang in there. xoxo