Well y’all. Things have certainly changed in the past six days.
B.C. (Before Covid-19)
In February after my sister left, I was officially accepted into a program to get my Alternative Teaching Certificate in Texas and have been focused on completing the requirements so that I can begin teaching for the 2020-2021 school year. Awesome, right?!!! YES! I am so excited! I landed a long-term substitute teaching position in an autism class in a neighbouring school district and that has been a challenge and a steep learning curve. Awesome, right?!!! YES! I started Pinspired March throughout all this because it is so much fun and something that connects me to all y’all like nothing else. Awesome, right?!!! YES!
Then, last week, everything changed.
The Coronavirus hits Houston
I had an inkling the pandemic would soon hit Houston just over a week ago and made my husband accompany me on a massive grocery shop – not to gather and hoard supplies but to have enough on hand so we could avoid stores for a several weeks. We went on Sunday, March 8th and everything was still “normal.”
On Wednesday, the Houston Rodeo was cancelled. On Thursday, school activities and training were cancelled and I stayed home with a cough – no fever but who would know that except me. School was cancelled on Friday and my kids’ district extended Spring Break by a week. On Friday morning, I thought I would get some extra dog food, milk, and eggs and by the time I left the store, shelves were empty.
Then, on Saturday, we decided as a family to practice stringent social distancing starting immediately.
What exactly does “social distancing” mean?
I’m not normally one to overreact. I went through Hurricane Harvey so this isn’t the first time I’ve seen empty store shelves and panicked behaviour. But this time, it’s not just Houston. My family and friends in Canada are seeing what I’m seeing, delayed by a few days. My home province of Alberta has cancelled school indefinitely, so they are ahead of Texas in terms of taking this pandemic seriously. Hopefully, that will enable them to provide better acute medical care to those who need it. That is the underlying reason behind social distancing, or what some are renaming social solidarity. Aside from recommendations from the CDC, I based my criteria and rationale for social distancing off a few informative articles:
- Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day
- Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
- We Need to Align With What’s Coming Next
For my family, social distancing means:
- stay at home
- no playing with other kids in person – outside or inside
- go out for walks but touch nothing in public and maintain a distance of 6 feet from anyone not in our family
- no restaurants, take out, or delivery
- no shopping except for essentials
- no social contact except what is mandatory and then using full precautions – handwashing and sanitizing
- virtual contact with friends, family, and church
I am deeply concerned for small businesses and for the economic well-being of so many people. Many of my close friends have already experienced a significant loss of income. It is heartbreaking. I don’t know what to do but to offer support in other ways – purchasing gift cards to redeem later, supporting them virtually, advocating for government assistance to those in need, shopping locally, and patronizing businesses that are taking measures to accommodate their hourly workers in this unprecedented time. Ultimately, the motivation for social distancing is to do our part to #flattenthecurve in order to reduce the load on the health care system and hopefully ensure that acute medical care will be available for those who need it.
EVERYONE is home. Now what?
My husband has commenced working from home and I expect school will be postponed or cancelled any day. That means a whole lot of together time!! The first thing we did to keep the peace was to set up a home office for my husband away from the rest of the action in the house.
We need him to keep working so our family can keep functioning, so it’s worth being more mindful of the noise in the house and keeping distractions to a minimum. I helpfully shared with him some working from home tips from Twitter – things like get dressed and ready like you’re going to work, keep a regular work schedule with breaks and an ‘end of the day.’ It’s only Day One but so far so good. HA.
As for the kids, I am fortunate that they are at an age where they are able to occupy themselves for hours… IF given unlimited access to screens. I wish I could say they’re asking me for stimulating activities and for homework to keep their skills sharp. They’re not. BUT I know we need some kind of structure to avoid going crazy. I have seen suggestions for daily routines during the Coronavirus; I have seen teachers and parents rising to the homeschooling challenge and TBH, IT STRESSES ME OUT. I am not that organized or disciplined and it is making me feel inadequate.
That’s my cue to talk some sense into myself, to remind myself that the whole darn world is under extreme stress and that there is no need to pressure myself or my kids to be highly productive during this surreal period. If organizing all your closets makes you feel good, have at ‘er. If you love structured activities with your kids, knock yourself out. There isn’t a wrong way to do #stayathome other than honouring your and your family’s particular needs. To that end, I came up with a general plan that fits my family.
Hunkering at Home Plan
My husband dubbed our social distancing as Happy Hunkering at Home! We are doing our best to speak about the situation in positive, life-giving words. My plan allows the kids to stay up later than usual and sleep in later than usual which helps us feel more relaxed and gives me time to do some concentrated studying for my teaching certificate before they get going. It also affords them time for what they want – screen time – after they do what I want – reading, chores, some academics. I want to maintain social connections and family time. I don’t want them to disappear into their rooms for this entire pandemic – we need each other more than ever – but I also don’t want to burn out from the togetherness. The specifics of the plan will no doubt evolve as we get more direction from teachers and start to explore more of the resources that are popping up like virtual museum tours, field trips, and more.
In case you find yourself looking for a plan that is somewhere between nothing and full-on structure, here is my Hunkering at Home Plan:
I taped the Hunkering at Home Plan up in the kitchen and provided each kid with their own copy to put up in their room or put in a dry erase envelope to check off each day till it becomes second nature. If you want an editable copy of my plan, just drop me a message in the comments or anywhere on social media and I will happily share. We are all in this together.
I fully acknowledge my privilege in this whole thing. We have a home, we have a backyard, we have a pool. We have more than one TV, we have plenty of books and our library card is set up for digital and audiobooks. My training is all online. We have groceries and toilet paper. My husband’s job is secure for now. We are healthy. But we are helpless if the virus hits us hard and there are no respirators to be had. We have loved ones that are on the front line of nursing and health care. We have loved ones that are immunocompromised and elderly. So I would rather “overreact” and be wrong than be responsible for transmitting the virus to someone whose life becomes compromised. We love our neighbourhood and treasure our friends and family, and are willing to take hard action to express our love. ❤️
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