Managing Isolation

It’s been 4 weeks of social distancing due to COVID-19, and although the days blur together, they are each also different. I wanted us to develop a routine, but it hasn’t evolved as expected. I already do most of my work from home (blog and recipe writing, online facilitation and now teaching) so I’m so fortunate to still be employed during this difficult time, but it sure has changed dramatically.

I am trying to work, but I’m also full-time parenting and missing the hours of free childcare that I took very much for granted. As I write this post, my 11-year old daughter is in the room on Zoom with her class, my 8-year old son is expelling peanut butter breath on me whilst reading over my shoulder and my husband pops out of the back room every hour for another coffee, snack or meal. 

Keeping the kids engaged all day has been a struggle. And I don’t mean trying to ‘school’ them, because that is just getting going with their terrific teachers. Just simply keeping them busy so they don’t wander aimlessly around the house, picking up the cat, digging for snacks in the cupboard and driving me crazy!

So, what has that looked like? It really does change each day, with some recurrent themes that carry through:

  1. Moving our bodies. We all get a little wound up if we don’t expend some energy and get our heart rates up, and I don’t get my escape to hot yoga! We are fortunate to have a yard and so we have our badminton net set up. We like to do YouTube workout videos. And we go for walks and bike rides. We are also lucky to have a garden so pulling weeds, building beds and spreading mulch adds extra exercise alongside productivity and appreciation of nature.
  2. Cooking together. We’ve had a hard time creating a routine around breakfast and lunch, as people are hungry at different times or busy with work and activities. Breakfasts tend to be fend for yourself—frozen fruit and yogurt, eggs and toast, cereal, smoothies. Lunches are best when we have enough leftovers, otherwise there’s cheese and crackers, hummus and veggies, canned salmon. But dinners are when we come together and make a nice meal. We asked the kids to come up with one breakfast, lunch and dinner each week that they make, but it doesn’t always work out. They did succeed with whole grain waffles from scratch one morning, deviled eggs and stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer dinner and we’ve played around with a couple of pies! All with help of course.
  3. Games. We ordered the Pirates & Explorers expansion pack for Settlers of Catan. That was set up on the dining room table for the first 3 weeks and we played for days, but eventually we needed a break from it. We’ve also joined some live quizzes on Instagram and found some educational apps like geography games. It’s really hard to come up with activities for the kids that don’t always involve screens and don’t always involve a parent.
  4. Theme nights. We had a blast doing a karaoke night where we each picked a song and musician, created a costume and performed for each other (I chose Carole King’s Where You Lead but my son truly owned his Elton John Rocketman!). There were prizes awarded and everyone won one—best costume, most on key, most engaging, best song choice. The next ones planned are a Fondue night, the Oscars and our Easter celebrations. These definitely help to break up the monotony and give us something to look forward to each week.
  5. Letting go. Some days I’m anxious and some I feel productive and positive. When I’m feeling a bit down and stressed, I find that letting go of the expectations to do all of the above is key. So we’ve had a couple of days in jammies watching more t.v. than usual where I’m not nagging everyone, including myself, to get dressed, brush teeth, move our bodies, engage our minds, tidy up, be grateful, etc. We just snuggle up and relax and enjoy the fact that we have nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Stay tuned for more posts to come on grocery shopping and menu planning, but for those who need more ideas, more support and access to credible resources today, the following may be helpful:

For everything COVID-related:

For cooking as a family:

For staying active as a family: