Slow, Simple, Present
My 3 1/2 year old daughter woke up the other day and said, "Is today yesterday? Tomorrow is today. Yesterday is tomorrow. Every day is the same now!"
All I could think was, Indeed, darling. Indeed.
When we were first quarantined, we set up a home learning environment with beautifully organized trays of materials. I had grand visions of finally being the homeschooler I've always wanted to be. Hahahahahahahahaha!
That lasted for about a week. Turns out, I was not prepared to create a good rhythm in my home when we were all stuck there together, every damn day. Yes, me, the calendar lady. I couldn't hack it.
Here we are four months later, still at home together, still struggling. Turns out, it's hard to create a good rhythm when you don't really leave the house. Pre-pandemic we went to school and work every day. Sundays we met family for breakfast. Chess on Mondays. Gymnastics on Wednesdays. Our weeks were dotted with so many small experiences that helped define one day from the next.
If anything, I've learned that all of this stuff I've been saying for so long about the importance of rhythm and routine--well, I didn't know how right I was! ;) It remains true that rhythm, ritual, and routine give children (and apparently their parents) a deep sense of security. We thrive with rhythm, it guides us gently from one sunrise to the next. And when we're out of rhythm, well, things don't go so smoothly, do they? Not around here, they don't.
So how do we figure out what day it is in a global pandemic? How do we create rhythm when so many of us aren't even leaving the house much?
We're still working on it, but here's what we've figured out so far:
It's time to create some new rituals and routines.
In our house, we've adopted Friday night pizza and movie nights. So basic, I know. But it's basic because it's fun and easy for overtired parents to pull off. (By the way, are you even more exhausted lately? Me, too!) We've designated Wednesday as Ice Cream Truck days. On Mondays we grill. Taco Tuesday is a non-negotiable. Weekend mornings we let the kids watch cartoons when they wake up so we can sleep in. (Whyyyy haven't I been doing this one all along?)
Keep those calendars on the wall!
Believe it or not, we took our big calendar down in May, and thus commenced a period that is nothing more than a blur in my mind. I had no idea what day it was. I was constantly asking my husband the same questions my little one asked me--What day is it? Is it yesterday? Where am I? We recently put our calendar back up and restarted our little morning ritual of setting the current day, date, and weather, and it really helps anchor our days. Which, of course, I knew it would.
Make the small things, big things.
Pre-pandemic, we spent a lot of time visiting museums, and trampoline parks, and local waterpark hotels. Now? We turn the smallest events into EVENTS. We made Rice Krispies treats yesterday, and you would have thought we'd been sculpting gold. It was a to do. We turn family game days into tournaments, and dance parties now require costumes, a pre-planned music list, and invites. And you know what? We're having a lot of fun.
Like you, I never expected to live through a global pandemic. I never thought I'd get months upon months (or has it been years?) to spend long days at home with my husband and children. And it has not been all unicorns and rainbows. Nope nope nope. I've had days where I found myself yelling at the kids, and even as it was happening and I was telling myself to stop, I just couldn't. Those were bad days, and I think we all have those, too.
But we're well, and we're together, and we're carving out new rituals each week to mark one day from the next, to add some structure to our time at home. I still can't always tell you exactly what day it is, but I'm feeling more grounded with each passing week. We're pushing through, and making moments of joy, and truly testing out all these ideas I've been yammering on about all along--the simple life, and slow living, and protecting our time.
So, my friends, here's to more good days than bad. Here's to new rituals, and finding simple joy at home during this unprecedented time.