This has been such a strange, crazy time that I wanted to capture what a day in our life looks like right now. I’m actually breaking this post up into two parts because my original post got super long and was all over the place. Part one captures more of our real life day to day grind, Monday – Friday, and will be a little messy. And part two will be the fun and happy “quarantine highlights” from this past month.
First, let’s quickly recap the timeline so far…
- Our family began self-quarantining on March 16. School and daycare closed that day and working remote became strongly advised. We received remote learning plans from Caroline’s teacher which included a few hours of education each day. Within a few days, Caroline began meeting with her class virtually for 30 minutes each morning via Zoom.
- On March 26, Charlotte issued a three week stay-at-home order. However, days later the North Carolina Governor issued a 30 day statewide stay-at-home order until at least April 29. He also announced schools would remain closed until May 15.
- On April 24, the Governor extended the stay-at-home order until May 8 and announced a three-phase plan for loosening restrictions that would roll out well into summer.
- On April 25, the Governor announced schools would remain closed through the remainder of the school year and remote learning would still continue.
Remote Learning & Remote Working
So here we are — week 6. Two full time jobs, two high-energy small kids, required remote learning and no childcare. Without a doubt, this has been the absolute most difficult part of quarantine for our family.
I always get nervous to peel back the curtain so publicly and share our struggles and complaints because YES, we are SO blessed. I can promise you that the health and safety of my family is something that I absolutely do not take for granted and thank God for every single day. We are also fortunate to have jobs that can be done from home. And even though we are both short-fused right now, I’m incredibly grateful for Matt who is dividing and conquering all of the responsibilities at home with me…while also running a 20 person law firm in the midst of a pandemic.
To be completely honest, I have not adjusted well to pandemic life — it truly feels unsustainable. In fact, we’re all starting to unravel a little bit around here, although admittedly, I’m probably burning out the fastest. I can’t stand how dirty and cluttered our house is 24/7, I’m an anxious mess and exhausted all the time. Every single day I feel like I’m either failing my kids or failing my firm and I’ve struggled to keep up in both areas. Work has been deeply stressful for me and Caroline’s required learning curriculum is confusing (what is “kitten” and “tiger” syllable division?!?!?!). Assignments require significant prep and are found across a variety of websites, platforms and apps (all with different log-ins, of course). Zoom class meetings require stand-by technical support (and sometimes spontaneous parent participation) and frequently overlap with my re-occurring conference calls…and more. I want to be clear that we have an absolutely wonderful Kindergarten teacher and she has gone above and beyond doing an extraordinary job during this crisis. However, it’s been difficult as two working parents to keep up as the teacher aid, hall monitor, the nurse, cafeteria worker, PE teacher, janitor and more. If you’re thinking “just do the required minimum and don’t compare to yourself to the other parents in class who have built extra-credit sight word walls”…we already are putting in the minimum required by the school district.
Also, it’s weird working at home with your spouse. Although we are home all day together in rooms right next to each other (I sit in the kitchen and he sits in the dining room), I feel like I barely see him at all these days. It’s also really interesting to hear your spouse on conference calls. I’ve really come to realize how stressful family law can be (especially in the midst of quarantine) and he finds my “professional voice” on conference calls fascinating and claims I have all of these “professional marketing words” I use all the time that he never hears me say in real life. Hilarious.
So very early on, we developed a schedule that we still loosely follow to help keep some structure to our day and help us manage expectations (don’t ask me for a snack until 10:30 am, and yes you have to go upstairs for two hours — every day). I honestly don’t know what this next month will look like for us, but from the beginning Matt and I decided to divide the day, which works well on some days but often gets derailed depending on the demands of work, our patience levels and the weather is hugely important too. Some days we just hand the chrome books over and plow through work. However, this is the ideal schedule that is currently posted on our wall…
The Daily Schedule
6 am: The kids are up by 6 but aren’t allowed to come downstairs until 7 and they have to be dressed, teeth brushed and beds made. I roll out of bed, pull on yoga pants and get to work early while Matt makes the kids pancakes for breakfast if they haven’t already wrecked the kitchen making 2-3 breakfasts for themselves (usually a bowl of cereal, grab-and-go smoothies, yogurt, toast, etc.). Then I clean up the kitchen for the first of many times for the day.
8:30 am: Matt gets school organized for the day, reviewing all of the assignments across the various platforms to understand what’s required by the school district for math, reading, social studies, etc. Assignments often require parent-prep — printing out worksheets, cutting up tiny pieces of paper, markers and tape for activities like sight word scavenger hunts around the house or domino math “fluency games.” Once he’s organized, Matt googles all the acronyms (COPS, Magic E’s, Stealing R’s, etc.) so he understands the lesson plans. I know, I know — he’s truly the MVP in our home right now. Like I said, I couldn’t do this without him and am incredibly grateful for him…and his patience.
9 am: School begins for both kids. Thomas mostly practices writing using worksheets that Matt creates by hand for him or he uses his letters workbook for as long as Matt can hold his attention before giving him ABC Mouse to play on his chrome book. Simultaneously, Matt works with Caroline on her assignments.
10:30 am: Snack time. Usually some sort of cracker and fruit.
11 am: My shift begins and Matt gets to work for the rest of the day. I set up Caroline’s daily 30-minute Zoom meeting and stand by for technical support. Meanwhile, I play the videos sent each day by Thomas’s pre-school teachers for him to watch while Caroline is in her meeting, otherwise he spends her entire meeting distracting her and clowning around in the background. Following the meeting, Caroline has more school work to do (usually assigned during the Zoom meeting) and we complete her final assignment from her “Choice Board” for the day. Some days it’s a “create a how to video” and we record her learning to ride her bike or making a recipe. Other days it’s “read two stories, make a venn diagram and compare/contrast the characters” or my favorite so far is “choose a job to do around the home and do it for 3 days in a row.” Caroline is now responsible for unloading the dishwasher every day and Thomas is responsible for bringing all of the dirty laundry to the laundry room and loading the washing machine. Huge win!
12 pm: Lunch time. I make lunch for the kids which is almost always an uncrustable or lunchables these days with random sides (yogurt, applesauce, etc.). I turn on TV for them at this point (their reward for getting through the school work) and usually it’s Storyline Online, Wild Kratts or weird YouTube videos of kids making things or pretending to be ninjas.
1 – 3 pm: Quiet time. Even though it’s far from “quiet” and we still have to mute our calls to yell upstairs for the kids to stop arguing. However, they are required to stay upstairs for 2 hours (on a good day). A few times a week, I try to sneak in a 20 minute Peloton workout as soon as they go upstairs and then jump right back in to work.
3 pm: Snack time and outside play. When quiet time is over, I have a snack ready for the kids (usually another combo of fruit & crackers) and on a good day I’ll have an activity set up for them to do together — water play, outside time, sidewalk chalk, etc.
4 pm: I usually break away from work and take the kids for a walk (or a bike ride since they just learned how to ride their bikes this week!!!). When we get back home, I check back in on work, pour a glass of wine and then start prepping dinner while the kids take baths (this has been awesome to knock baths out so early). The kids get their chrome books after baths until dinner is ready.
5:30 pm: Dinner. Since both of our dining tables are work stations during the week, we don’t eat as a family during the week days right now. The kids happily eat in front of the TV while Matt and I eat our dinner together on the couch outside. This time is really important for us and some days it’s the only time I even get the chance to connect with Matt.
7 pm: Bedtime routine begins. Matt wrangles the kids upstairs and begins the marathon night-night process while I clean up the kitchen and pick up the house a bit. Before the pandemic, we use to each put one kid to bed at the same time and then sneak into the other kids room for a quick goodnight. But these days we alternate bedtime each night to allow the other person to get back to work and hopefully start wrapping up for the day.
8 pm: If I didn’t get up extra early to blog, I transition from my work laptop to my blog laptop around this time most nights. (So if my grammar is terrible, my run-on sentences don’t make sense and I’ve misspelled words…it’s because I’m usually mentally and/or physically spent when I blog…but it’s also my outlet that makes me happy so I always try to find the time.)
9:30 – 10 pm: Netflix in bed. Matt will sometimes bring his work to bed if he hasn’t finished up for the day.
11 pm: Lights out…because the same routine is starting in just 7 short hours.