Our Family’s 2020 Pandemic Experience So Far
Written by Elisabeth Duncan
Life during the pandemic has been anything but easy for everyone. In March when we first had the big surge I was about a month away from my due date. A couple days before everything in Iowa shut down my husband decided I should quit working until I had the baby and he would start working from home. We basically decided I would only leave the house if I was going to the doctor and he would only go to the store. My baby shower was cancelled. I couldn’t see our families and I couldn’t prepare the rest of the things for baby. I felt so overwhelmed and under prepared even if it was my third. I wanted to stroll through target and pick out some comfy outfits for me, cute outfits for the baby and really anything else that caught my fancy.
I was upset but I thought in a couple months things will be better. Well here we are in late November / early December and there is another surge. My husband has worked from home the entire time and up until a couple weeks ago the kids hadn’t really left the house except for doctor’s appointments or the couple times we went to Grandma’s house.
Having a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a new baby in the house while you’re trying to work is extremely difficult to say the very least, as you all know. My husband’s conference calls have had background music of twinkle twinkle little star, head shoulders knees and toes and the ever present baby cries and toddler tantrums. My zoom meetings have had guest appearances from Captain America and Iron Man. How my husband does it on a daily basis is beyond me but I know Apple AirPods play a huge roll. Those things have great noise canceling capabilities.
I am a hairstylist and before the pandemic I was working 3 days a week. Since the pandemic our daycare situation has changed. My mom was watching them one day a week and then they were going to a sitter’s another day and then home with dad on Saturdays. Well, my mom isn’t able to watch them as she and my dad fall into the more vulnerable category and then we don’t want anyone outside of our “bubble” to watch them unless absolutely necessary. So I have cut back my hours at work and thankfully my mother in law retired this year and she is able to help us out. Seriously, such a God send. Now I work 2 days a week. It was a tough decision because I didn’t want to disappoint my clients and lose them. But, we had to do what was best for our family and plus side I get to spend more time with our kids which I love. I am so very thankful for the amazing clients I have and that they have stayed with me even with a schedule change and a crazy pandemic. Seriously, I have the best clientele!
We also decided that besides basically our parents we weren’t going to be seeing anyone. With a new baby in general we wanted to keep contact low but also we wanted to make sure we were able to get into the doctor when need be without having to worry about being around someone that had had COVID or getting it ourselves and not able to go to the doctor easily. Also, our daughter gets croup very easily and so we want to make sure we keep her healthy as that is respiratory and so is COVID and without knowing to much about COVID we don’t want to put her at risk either. We also decided my husband would be the main one to run errands. Our children have basically only gone to the doctor office. I’ve had people say they don’t know how we do it but we just feel it’s important for our family to do, so we do it. The kids ask when we can do things again or when the germs will be gone. Our oldest said he misses our local grocery store, haha! Some days are harder than others but we always make it through.
I don’t have much advice but just here to relate and commiserate with you if you are trying to work from home with kids at home too, no matter their age. The best thing we’ve done during this time is to take walks. Before baby came I’d take the older two kids and our two dogs on a walk. We’d go for as long as we could, usually a mile and then come back home. I felt any amount of time we weren’t in the house gave my husband some peace and the kids could burn any pent up energy. Then once I felt recovered enough after baby to tackle three kids and two dogs on a walk we went back to taking our daily walks. It was good for everyone to get fresh air.
The other thing we have discovered (and are maybe late to the game to) is YouTube workouts for kids. We have done yoga, dancing, kid workouts and our newest favorite is a interactive “video game” themed workout. It helps get rid of that energy and is entertaining for them without just watching tv. We just search “kids yoga” and “kids workout” and pick whatever we feel like for that day. Now that it’s getting colder and we won’t be able to do walks anymore I know we will be using that more to burn some energy.
My biggest reminder is everyone is facing a storm right now. It may look different — maybe the rain is heavier for one person, maybe your waves aren’t as big, maybe the tide is making someone else change directions…whatever it may be during this pandemic everyone has had some sort of storm and we need to be patient and have grace for ourselves and one another. We need to make the choices that are best for our families and try not to feel guilt or pressure from others. We are all doing our best in this unfamiliar territory. YOU are doing you’re best!