Like many of you, I’ve been feeling anxious about our next 30 days (or longer) in home quarantine. Our family is not good with staying still for too long nor have we had much practice with staying put. Lately we haven’t even been able to get through an entire dinner without endless bickering. Chalk that up to having teenagers and an often crabby mom. Home quarantine will change the former and by implementing some rules and structure I hope to change the latter. One thing that helps me with uncertainty is having a plan. I am by no means an expert, but here are five ideas I’ve been kicking around for keeping sane, healthy, and (dare I say it) happy during quarantine.
1. Create A Plan For Consideration. // After yet another dinner full of endless bickering I realized that if we are going to have a chance at surviving any amount of extended time together at home we need to establish some rules of consideration for others. Our family began our extended time together with everyone making one request that (in theory) will be respected by everyone else. Mine was that the kids would do their nightly chore without getting reminders from me to do them. It would be their responsibility to remember and do it themselves. Others asked that we not talk over each other or that we don’t make house-wide announcements on Alexa during work hours. You get the idea. We typed up our list and posted it in the kitchen for everyone to see. Yes, I know, this is ambitious. I know we won’t be perfect but there is some satisfaction in feeling like our complaints are being voiced and even though there are often transgressions, just feeling like you’ve been heard makes those transgressions more tolerable.
2. Continue With Routines. // I am a creature of habit. Structure and routine is extremely important to feeling like myself. I want to continue with as much structure and routine as we possibly can to provide some normalcy to these decidedly abnormal days. That looks like waking up close to our normal time on a weekday and starting our school and work days by 9 a.m. with a pre-designated ending time for lunch and play breaks. One challenge with kids working from home on devices is making sure they don’t get distracted by YouTube or Tik Tok or that the usual procrastination doesn’t kick in. We created an end time for our workday so we can schedule “play” time together that will create an incentive to be efficient and get our work done.
3. Connect With Nature. // Sunshine is the best disinfectant and connecting with nature is one way to keep your spirits high. Luckily Mother Nature is showing us some grace and we have been enjoying some beautiful early spring temperatures. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the pleasant weather continues. To the extent we are able, I am planning on doing family activities that we normally don’t have time for like family hikes and picnic lunches in parks. We have miles of bike trails that we haven’t explored so it would be fun to replace these normally crazy sports and activity-filled spring afternoons with pursuits in nature. We have wide open spaces, balls, basketball hoops and soccer nets to get excess energy out.
4. Keep Up With Good Habits. // I don’t want to let boredom and close proximity to the pantry interrupt healthy eating habits that I’ve spent months cultivating. Continuing with healthy eating habits will give me a sense of accomplishment and also keep me feeling as good as I can during challenging circumstances. That doesn’t mean being rigid about a diet but rather keeping up with 80-90 percent of good habits. Good diet and exercise habits will also keep us healthier in the long run. I think we all needed a few days to adjust and have a pity party. But the work week has begun and this is the new normal so it is time to reclaim those good habits we’ve been working on since the start of the year (P.S. If you already abandoned your New Year’s “get healthy” goals because life got too busy, now’s your chance to reclaim them. No one will know you took a break.)
5. Achieve A Sense Of Accomplishment. // Forced time at home is out of our control. One thing within our control is the ability to be productive with our time. If you’ve had a goal or an idea that you’ve wanted to get started on but hadn’t had the time–now is the time to start. Personally I have been wanting to make using headspace, a meditation app, a daily habit, but in practice I’ve been sporadic and inconsistent. If I can establish this good habit during our extended break I will feel a sense of accomplishment and maybe look back on it as the silver lining to uncertain and anxiety-provoking circumstances.
6. Create A Calendar Of Nightly Family Activity. // Variety is the spice of life. While family movies are something we love to do during winter storms this break is much longer so we will need to change up our family activities to prevent boredom. Creating an expectation of something to look forward can generate some excitement and make the hours in between pass quickly. Having a family project in mind, like whipping up a dessert together, playing a favorite board game or card game, roasting s’mores in the fire pit, or working on a puzzle are some ideas on our nightly entertainment list.
7. Prioritize Self Care. // Time alone is important too. When I begin to feel frustrated or annoyed with being in close quarters I have to remind myself that taking time to take care of me is important. Taking a bath, reading, or meditating are just a few ways I reset so I can come back and be the mom I want to be.
Finally, one lesson I’ve learned from moving through difficult experiences is to simply stop focusing on time. Keep your focus on the present moment. If you think to yourself, what will this look like on Day 24 if we can’t make it through Day 3, you will easily get discouraged. Get through today. When tomorrow comes, focus on that. Break time into the smallest increments you need to get through. One thing you can count on, tomorrow will come and this too shall pass.