Thursday 9 April 2020

Day in the life - Coronapocalypse week 3

First of all, I don’t actually believe it is the apocalypse, but the term has kinda stuck in my head so I’m going with it.

I thought I should document our lives during this very peculiar and challenging point in time. This is the first week I feel like we have sort of a regular routine, so I decided to do a day in the life. Later I will try to do another one or two to compare.

Stay strong and safe everyone.

April 9 2020
Mr Turtle- counsellor and provisional psychologist, age 39
Turtle- jr high teacher, now an emergency online teacher. Age 40
AJ, 5 years old, kindergarten student, now being homeschooled
Dani, 2 years old. 

6:00am- Mr Turtle wakes up, showers. He is looking at working from home a few days next week, but so far he has still been going into work every day. They are doing all counselling over the phone. The gong show at home is therefore all mine during working hours. For now.

6:45: my alarm goes off. I am bleary and sleepy: I was up a few times last night, because lately I have been getting hot flashes again (early menopause/late stage periomenopause, woohoo). And then of course I have to pee. AJ was talking in her sleep but didn’t wake.  I kiss Mr Turtle goodbye from bed. Read Facebook to wake up. Make a comment or two.

7:10ish: I shower. Read an article on phone.

7:30: officially up, in bathrobe, chilling out. I don’t like putting on clothes right after I get up, for some reason.

7:45: kids waking up. They are very happy. Dani wants lots of hugs. We cuddle on the couch. I make instant coffee. Breakfast for kids: yogurt and half an orange each. Bathroom break, more reading. Share today’s calendar page on Facebook. I have a Keep Calm and Carry On calendar that is one quote a day, and sometimes I share the quotes on Facebook. People like them, especially lately.


I also am getting a collection of quotes on the fridge that I particularly relate to:

The kids are playing together, and not fighting yet.

8:30: AJ and Dani into bubble bath. I decide to write this entry and get dressed. I do that while they play in the bath. At a few minutes to nine I finish washing Dani. AJ can wash her hair mostly independently now. I turn the shower on and off for her, help her get soap in her hair, and remind her not to stay in the shower for half an hour.

In the beginning of the stay at home weeks, I wore pyjamas and sweats most of the time. But I got bored with that quickly. I decided to follow AJ and Dani’s example: they change clothes several times a day and dress as princesses and ballerinas and dinosaurs whenever they please. Why not? So I pulled out all my most eccentric wardrobe items and had fun. Well I don’t dress up every day. But I try to have some style every day and feel good about my outfit. 

9:15 Daily staff meeting via Google meet (I teach junior high special Ed).

AJ is brushing her teeth.

It is the end of our first real teaching week with students since schools closed mid March. (Spring break happened just a few days after classes were cancelled, and then the week after that was a scramble to figure out how to deal with the situation). This week teachers, including myself and my co teacher, have gotten our online classes functioning.  Our principal celebrates the work that has gotten us mostly through this week. I like her a lot. She is very level headed and caring.

She also shows a video about five different Easter celebrations from around the world. AJ and Dani watch with me, very interested. I think I should share it with the students, but I forget to.

Dani gets involved in colouring. There are the usual tech issues during the staff meeting, and my attention wanders. I tell AJ to comb her hair; she ignores me.  There are some wellness graphics shared for students.  Dani starts raspberry-spitting and I tell her to stop. I used to spit like that as a kid. My brothers called me Blunderbuss.

Now one of the teachers is sharing fitness and health links he put together. This I like. I intended to put together something like that for students and now I don’t have to do it all myself. I actually remember to share the link to my Google classroom this time.

Fun fact: last week Jess at  My Path to Mommyhood gave me and my colleague a crash course on Google classroom. It was a great help in getting us started. I’m sure we all already know how awesome Jess is, but this is further proof.

The girls have settled into colouring peacefully. I am multitasking, posting announcements on google classroom, sending a mindless email or two, and listening to the staff meeting. Shit actually seems under control.

9:40 staff meeting done

Dani is now running around with doll stroller yelling “Bye bye, see you!” AJ never did comb her hair. I make her cry by combing it. Cuddle and say sorry. 

9:46 tidy up break. One thing I have found essential to keeping myself sane is not letting the mess accumulate. I have a strict rule that we clean up from every activity before moving on to the next. I don’t let dishes, grime or clutter accumulate. Obviously we are not perfect but so far I have not let things slide, and it means that when I do have a few minutes to relax, I have a clean (ish) room to look at not the aftermath of a tornado. It makes a big difference to me.

I notice Dani is eating crumbs under the table. I grab the vacuum cleaner and tear around for a while. AJ is colouring hearts to give to her classmates “when this disease is over.”

Potty break before office hours. D follows me into bathroom, tries to get into everything while I’m pooping.

Speaking of pooping, we have not been short of toilet paper yet. But when we were having difficulty finding it I figured out an alternate system, and I’ve gotten into the habit of using it. Do you remember those cleansing squirt bottles they give you in labour and delivery? Well, for reasons I don’t fully understand I kept both of mine. They function like a portable bidet. I keep a box of old washcloths handy to dry off, and a wet bag from the cloth diapering days for the used washcloths, and voila. 


So far I’m the only one in the family using my system, but it still conserves a lot of tp, because let’s be honest, I pee the most.

10:03 I’m back at my computer for office hours with my students.

Dani starts fussing because she wants to change her clothes. I help her put on a tutu dress.

AJ somehow lost  her cutout hearts. She says she put them on her bed and then they disappeared. The mystery is never solved. But surprisingly she doesn’t get too upset.

Office hour starts off quiet, with no students joining me in google meet for the first few minutes. But one is leaving messages for me on the site.

I note that I need to figure out how quizzes work. I can’t find the students’ responses to the one I posted. Probably everyone will get 100% on this quiz by default.

Now there is one student in google meet. She’s a bit of a character and one that I have to connect with on a personal level, so I’m glad she’s there.  She has completed one of two assignments in math. I spend most of the hour walking her through how to do the second one.  It seems successful. Toward the end of the hour, another student pops in with a question. Overall, a productive office hour.

Dani comes and sits on my lap occasionally during the hour, but otherwise I don’t really know what my kids are up to. There are no loud bumps or screams so I assume they are ok.

11:00ish, sign out of google meet. Computer plugged in to charge.

I tell AJ she needs to do some kindergarten work. We didn’t get to it yesterday, which was a very hectic day for me.  AJ is a bit resistant but agrees. We decide to have a snack first to get some strength.

I chop up pieces of garlic sausage and apple for the girls. I’m removing the sausage skins for Dani and eating them when I realize I never actually ate breakfast. I chop up some sausage and apple for myself. We sit at the table and eat and everybody is  happy.

11:40: I take the computer out again. All of us watch AJ’s video message from her kindergarten teacher. I upload the  photos of her previously completed work and talk about what we’ll do this afternoon. 

12:10ish: I put on a yoga video that the teacher posted. AJ does yoga, Dani watches m in fascination. I put canned soup on to heat and fry some ham. Empty the dishwasher.

12:40: lunch. Chicken noodle soup, toasted ham on cheese buns.

12:50, kids are finishing up; I wash dishes, stack the dishwasher, clean up other messes.

A typical mess

1:00: The girls are playing with a tiny container of hand lotion they found somewhere. I think, “meh, that’s harmless.”  A sizeable portion of my parenting style consists of deciding that the things the kids are doing are relatively harmless.

1:11: The  cleanup is done, and we get  ready for a walk. It’s been a cold spring, with snow every other day and below zero temperatures. Today finally is warm and sunny.

Sometime around 1:30, we actually get out the door.

The girls walk, skip and run down the street. We see few people, but those we do are friendly, from a distance. 

We recently watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and now Dani stops at every storm sewer and says “Hi Turtles! Bye Turtles!” 

As we are walking AJ makes a comment that “we can’t make day friends right now”: by which she means children she meets at the library or playground that she plays with for a day. AJ has not been openly upset about not seeing her friends and little of her extended family, but she will say things from time to time that show she is trying to understand what is going on. We talk about day friends for a while and how we will be able to make them again soon and how we might run into old ones again.

Dani doesn’t exactly have friends, but she probably misses her daycare buddies too. On our walk yesterday she became very fascinated by a ceramic statue of a baby in someone’s yard. “Baby, baby!” “White baby!” Then “Lucy!” Lucy is the one child from her daycare she refers to by name. I felt bad for her: does  she miss her friend so much she is talking to a statue? We can go back and visit “white baby” again I suppose; odd as that sounds. 

We walk to a green space with a few trees where the kids can run around, pick up pine cones and sticks and explore. Well, it isn’t actually green yet but you get the idea.

Around 3:00, we are home

Shortly after, Dani goes down for nap on the couch. AJ sings a lullaby to her.

AJ goes into the back yard to play for a while. I make a cup of tea and open up my google classroom and start going through student work. There are a lot of submissions and revisions and random questions to go through. My co-teacher did quite a bit as well so there is not as much as appears, but it’s still a huge volume of notifications. And we only have two out of four courses running at this point. Eek! 

At least many students have been quite successful at their projects and they seem excited about online learning. They are doing the work and revising it when we ask. So that’s good.

AJ comes in after about 15 minutes complaining about bugs. We do a few worksheets in her binder that  I printed off for her. She does well reading some simple sentences. 

AJ goes on Starfall on iPad. She loves that website, and I don’t particularly like teaching phonics so I hope it helps her to learn to read.  I keep marking and commenting on student assignments. No matter how straightforward I think I made the assignments,  students find ways to have peculiar technical difficulties.

5:15. Still working on school assignments. Will definitely not finish today. Dani is awake. AJ is sharing her iPad with her sister, which is playing a very annoying tune: “A NOUN IS THE NAME....OF A PERSON PLACE OR THING!!” over and over.

5:25ish. Mr Turtle is home. I put away the computer. I think maybe only one weekly assignment for classes next week. Or I get way more organized. 

Mr Turtle reports an exhausting day. He orders pizza. AJ is going a mile a minute telling him everything on her mind. I go put pyjamas on. 

6:05. Pizza here. Decide to watch The Sound of Music for the first time ever with the kids. Except then they decide to see The Aristocats for the 100th time instead.  Whatever. I dig into pizza, suddenly very hungry. I drink a glass of wine. Drinking one glass of wine a day has become a new habit. Just one and only in the evening. 

Around 7:30, movie is over. We go upstairs and I am suddenly very sleepy. Mr Turtle cleans up. I play the game called do what you want while mom lies on the couch. AJ and Dani brush my hair and cover me with a blanket. Then Mr Turtle cajoles AJ into practicing piano. Dani grabs my hand and I let her pull me off the couch over and over while she giggles hysterically. 

Around 8 we start bedtime routine. There are a lot of giggles and chasing involved. But the girls settle quite fast, all things considered. I am still breastfeeding Dani before bed. It’s funny, when AJ was a baby I swore I would stop bf’ing before she could ask for it because I thought that would be the cringiest thing ever to gave a kid ask. And I did. But now when Dani asks for boobs, I think it’s adorable and I haven’t had the heart to totally cut her off.

But really, is that not the definition of parenthood? All the things you thought were cringey and beyond bearable are now sweet and adorable.

So how are we doing? Well, it’s not an ideal situation, but we are among the lucky, for sure. Nothing threatens us immediately, only the same uncertainty that faces all.

But I am not spending my days in fear, anxiety, misery or depression. Quite the opposite. I am learning new things every day, at a quite ridiculous pace. I am in constant contact with others, in person and virtually.  I am a problem solver. My brain sometimes goes into a creative overdrive so intense that I have to stop myself to breathe. I am actually in a much better place mentally now than in October, which is kind of ironic. But I feel almost like I burned through all my anxiety and self doubt in the autumn, and now I’m ready to rock and roll.

Maybe because I work with youth who have disabilities, I get used to focusing on possibilities not limitations. I don’t know. But whatever tomorrow brings, I feel like I can be useful. I am among the fortunate (so far) so I have no need or desire to feel self pity: I can do my bit to help and make things better, and I will. As long as I can.