One Skagit family’s struggles with staying home, staying healthy.
It was day eleven of my family’s social isolation, and my three year old was beginning to lose it. On a normal Sunday, by 2:30 pm we would have sped through a host of weekend activities: grocery shopping, play dates, church, visits to the park, etc. But not today, not on day eleven. Today we hadn’t left the house, hadn’t even changed out of our pajamas. I find myself stumped. How can I explain to my toddler daughter why we can’t play with friends or go to her classes, especially when every fiber of my being wants to be able to do so?
No surprise — within minutes I have an unruly little child on my hands, plus a fussy infant, and a dog pleadingly staring at the front door for run to the dog park. In the middle of this ruckus, my neighbor calls to see if my daughter wants to come jump on their trampoline. I’m thankful for the questioning look on my husband’s face, gently nudging me to do the right thing when I say no thanks. A wave of frustration and anxiety wells up in me and I barely can shove it all down, knowing the last thing I want to do is to break out crying. That would only add more mess into our living room drama.
This social distancing thing is really tough! Humans are social creatures and we thrive on routine. So the sudden absence of both these things leaves us reeling. I laugh at memes like the one that says “Our grandparents were called to war. We’re being called to sit on the couch.” This in no way describes what I’m doing as a mom of a toddler and a baby during the age of COVID-19. Without daycare, I spend my days trying to balance mothering and this new working from home thing, while struggling to fit in a moment to jump in the shower.
Don’t get me wrong—this struggle rings true for all of us, not just for moms of small children! All over my social media feeds there is a sense of mourning, a sadness and nostalgia for a past that was only a couple of week ago. Personally, I am wrestling with how to tell my daughter that we can’t have her friends over for her third birthday party in April. The guilt and frustration piles up and I snap into anger. But who am I mad at? No one dreamed up COVID-19 – it just happened.
What is being called of us is not easy, and it isn’t “just sitting on the couch.”
Our actions (or actually, inaction), will make all the difference in the end.
Staying put and staying home is courageous and strong. It’s patriotic. So while these so, so incredibly long days drag on, it is important to remember we are helping to write history. We can be the next greatest generation.
How do we do this?
- Well, we accept a new normal…for a while. How long is unknown. It won’t be like this forever. So, let’s make the best of it, and feel a little grace along the way. This is your big chance to lead a work meeting in your pajamas, or hear your boss’ kid crying in the background of a conference call. There is something hilarious about cobbling together dinners made solely out of canned goods, or rationing out toilet paper amongst your family members.
- We will learn new things about ourselves…I am learning a lot of things about myself and how I handle a crisis. For example: a) I can feel lonely, even in a room full of children, a husband, and a dog. b) Not being able to go to the grocery store when I want to causes me to feel claustrophobic. c) Starting the day off with a shower improves my mood and helps me be a better mom and employee.
- We will practice self-care…Aside from forcing myself to get dressed every day in something other than sweats, I am trying my best to practice that thing we might talk about but never really take seriously: self-care. When my brain gets too foggy, I take a walk. When I begin to feel overwhelmed and anxious, I do some deep breathing. And I encourage my toddler to do the same. Just as my Director, Jennifer Johnson, said on our Conversations COVID-19 video talk show, “this is truly a time to lean on others” (from at least six feet away!). When my kid couldn’t go play with her friend on Sunday, we hit the pavement with sidewalk chalk and wrote secret notes to her buddies. Come Monday morning, our driveway was scrawled with messages from kids from throughout the neighborhood, and the joy in my daughter’s face helps me to know we will get through this.
- Skagit County, we can own how difficult this is. We don’t always have to be so tough. Along the way, we can help each other make it through the challenges we face. This is already happening! After all, it does not take much to find encouraging and heartwarming and stories in the news and on social media. The heroes are all around us – probably right next door. These stories tell us something about ourselves – they show Skagit’s ability to find the positive in a seemingly negative situation. Just stay tuned and you will find more in upcoming editions of Skagit Health Connection.
So, here’s one Public Health employee saying, “You can do this.” And please just know, you’re not alone.
For great ideas and support for families, check out United Way of Skagit County’s COVID-19 Resources for Parents & Caregivers: https://www.unitedwayskagit.org/covid-19-resources