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Tag: covid-19

Feeling Some Sort of Way

Fitting with my track record the last few years, it’s been a minute since I have updated. The problem with that is that it makes it hard to know where to start.

These last few months have had so many ups and downs and a myriad of feelings that are most often undefinable. While we try to live our lives in the most normal way possible, we remain in the middle of a pandemic. In the beginning there were hard and fast rules as to what we could do, where we could go, etc., but now those mandates have expired and for the most part it is up to us to make the tough decisions. Do we let our kids go to school? Do we gather with family for the holidays? Do we socialize with friends? Do we go back to church? Do we continue to wear face masks, even though those around us often do not?

It is a very fuzzy line as to what is considered safe and what is not. Some people have tested positive for COVID and barely had any symptoms, yet at the same time some are very severe and the death toll increases daily. Deep down, my gut feeling response was to protect my family as much as possible – keep them home and never leave the house. Initially, that is what we did. The kids and I went months barely leaving the house except for necessities. It felt safer to stay in our little bubble. But as time went on, it became very apparent that our mental health was suffering in some big ways. Little by little, as county and state restrictions eased up, we chose to start venturing out more – carefully – with masks and hand sanitizer at the ready.

The hardest decision was whether or not to send the kids back to in-person school. Our district offered a choice of in-person or online. The mama bear in my wanted to keep them home, but virtual school has proven to be a huge struggle for my kids. They all three were adamant that they wanted to be in school and deep down I knew that it really was the best choice for them. Beside the fact that we need the additional support of gifted classes, 504 plans, IEPs and other special services, they needed the return of some sort of routine and normalcy in their day. As it turned out, most families in our district made the same choice, which forced the high school and middle school to move to a hybrid schedule – 2 days a week of in-person classes, and 3 days at home with online activities. Fortunately, the elementary is able to continue a 5 day in-person schedule.

We also chose to allow sports as those opened up. We started back the routine of soccer, volleyball, and karate with practices on weeknights and games on the weekends. With school and sports back on, I started seeing my kids come back to life a little. The need for social interaction was so incredibly important for them. I don’t think any of us are truly back in a good mental state, but the difference it has made at least for my two youngest kids has been pretty immense – enough to know that it was the right choice for them.

We have been fortunate so far that we have all stayed healthy. As allergies have flared up and colds have passed through, it has been a bit nerve wracking. Never knowing exactly when it might be time to go for a COVID test you fret about every cough. We get emails from the school almost daily reporting positive cases, though contact tracing indicates most of those have not been due to transfer at school. I get a little nervous with every email from school, not sure when I will receive one saying that one of my kids has been exposed.

Last weekend was Halloween and yet again came the time to decide whether to proceed with our usual traditions or whether to stay home, hunker down and turn our porch light off. We decided to let the kids dress up and trick-or-treat. The cousins came over and we drove to a nearby neighborhood that was swarming with kids and adults trick-or-treating – very few wearing masks or taking precautions. It honestly made me very nervous and question my decision to let them go. I will not be at all surprised if we have a spike of COVID cases in our city over the next week or so.

The good news, for now at least, is that our sports seasons have finished – except for karate. Less practices and games means less community exposure for all of us. We still have school, work, and Hubby and I have been back to church a couple of times. There are necessary shopping trips and sometimes just a need to get out of the house for a bit. The desire to get back to our regular routines and habits are so strong, but as the COVID cases continue to go up daily it has me reconsidering what is truly necessary again.

Through all of this, I have found myself really struggling with anxiety (and maybe a smidge of depression). It took me a while to really put my finger on it because it doesn’t feel like anxiety in the way that I think anxiety should feel. It hits in waves. Some days it is just this little tiny off feeling that I can’t really define and other days it kind of knocks me over. Sometimes it comes out as irritation with everything and everybody and results in an emotion explosion, and sometimes it shows up in withdrawal. It is in those withdrawn moments that I feel like the depression starts sneaking in – when even the things that usually bring me joy feel more like an obligation. In the back of my mind I hear a little voice saying, “Just keep swimming!” but that constant push and pull of the sinking and then the swimming is exhausting.

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I Don’t Even Know What Day It Is

The thing about everything shutting down is that keeping track of time becomes difficult. Despite my efforts to keep on a semi-regular schedule with work tasks and keep the kids on track for school, I still have to really think some days to figure out what day of the week it is. I had a super mom-fail moment this week when I forgot to get Zach up early enough for his 9:30 am Google Meet with one of his classes. With four days of distance learning almost under our belts, that is the only major miss for the week though.

Keeping on a schedule when you have nowhere to be is all new for us. I’ve had an occasional work from home day in the past, but it is usually due to having a sick kid at home, or a middle of the day appointment that I had to be at. I have never done this on a long-term basis, and certainly have not done it with three kids at home. I’m still mostly sticking to my regular work schedule and trying to keep my weekly tasks on the same daily schedule for the sake of routine. Instead of chats with co-workers and walks across the building for signatures, I have breaks for explaining math problems or going over sight words. Oddly, I feel my productivity most days is better than in the office. I’m saving about 45 minutes a day in drive time, yet I keep finding myself working well beyond my usual work hours because there is no rush to “get home” to the kids.

My biggest struggle time-wise seems to be what happens after work and school time is done. Everything just seems to go so much slower. There is no rush home, start dinner, get to activities part of the evening. It is more, “Ugh, I have to cook again? Is anybody even hungry?” I mean, we don’t eat out much anymore anyway, but when you have been cooped up in the house for two weeks, the idea of a meal out at a restaurant is pretty dang appealing. Getting around to dinner has been slower, and later (because we have nowhere to go), and well, pretty uninspired. I try to get out and walk/run the dog every day as long as it isn’t raining, but there is really no rush to do much of anything else. The rest of our evenings generally get wrapped up with an overabundance of screen time because I’m just out of energy to try to make them do anything else at that point.

I find myself staying up later and later at night. I should be reading or doing something productive, but instead I find myself binge watching multiple seasons of ridiculous teen dramas. Without the threat of the alarm clock going off at 5 a.m., there’s no reason not to just watch another episode…and another…until I can no longer hold my eyes open. Perhaps it is time to try my prescribed sleep meds again because even once I go to bed I toss and turn and don’t really sleep. I’m still setting an alarm to make sure I get up, but I pretty much wake up when Hubby leaves for work anyway so there is no need.

It really is interesting to see how we are all functioning. Honestly, the kids don’t seem that phased by the whole thing…yet. They are all kind of figuring out their own schedules. They are also staying up a little too late at night, and sleeping in probably a little too late in the mornings. Even Caleb, my early riser, is sleeping until 8:30-9:00 every morning (which I love because I still get a little quiet time to myself). They miss their friends, but they are finding ways to keep in touch. School work, even though they would prefer not to do it, is keeping them somewhat engaged and connected as well.

As for Hubby, he is still going to work every day. While I’m sure things have changed within his day-to-day work schedule, his routine is staying fairly the same. The only thing he is really missing is that his gym is now closed, so he doesn’t get his workout time in that he really enjoys. He’s doing what he can from home, but it just isn’t the same. I think it is also hard for him to understand how cooped up the rest of us are feeling. While I’m sure he would love to be working from home as well, he is the most extroverted of us all and I’m not sure he would handle it well for an extended time. He needs to go to work, to feel needed, and to be around other people – even if they are distancing and not staying in close proximity.

While keeping up with the days is hard, I do know that today is Friday. Sadly, the only thing that changes is that we can drop the work/school routine for a couple days. I’m hoping the weather stays nice enough that we can get outside, but a two day long Harry Potter marathon sounds pretty good as well.

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School is in Session

Today we began distance learning from home for all three kids. The teachers are breaking them in easy this week. They have mostly review items for now as they adjust to this new way of doing school. It is going to be an adjustment for sure – for all of us. I nearly had an anxiety attack yesterday just trying to keep all the emails from teachers and school admins straight. Just trying to keep track of which teachers teach which classes for which child is enough in itself.

So, like my usual Excel-loving self, I made spreadsheets. Each child now has a weekly checklist with class/subject, teacher, where to look for assignments, and a spot to check off that they have checked/completed assignments for each class. Several teachers are utilizing Google Meet to get some face time with their students, so we have to keep track of those times as well.

Today was interesting as we got into this new school mode. I set up a desk down in my office for Caleb as he will require the most hands-on help from me. I feel extremely unqualified to teach him, but fortunately, he was able to guide me along. I can tell I’m going to get some resistance as we go along but today went fairly well. I’m definitely going to need to put in some prep time ahead of him sitting down with me (or get his sister to fill in) on the math. There are so many new terms with Common Core Math that I have no idea what they are talking about. I never was one to be able to explain myself when it comes to numbers. I just knew how to get the answer.

My high schooler – my most school avoidant child – says he would rather be at school in class than doing it at home. While he refuses to open his school issued chromebook, he did at least pull up his assignments and complete them using his phone. +1 to Google for being accessible on any device!

And my middle schooler, who is a fairly consistent high-achiever, completed all of her work and was “bored” while waiting for her Google Meet time with her band class. We’ll see how long that lasts. She also is my most social and really lit up when she got to see some of her classmates on the screen. They went straight from that to setting up a Google Hangout so they could talk longer.

Today started the beginning of the 30 day Stay-at-Home order issued by the county. At this point, we’ve already been mostly staying at home (with the exception of hubby who is still going to work) for ten days. The kids are finding ways to keep in touch with friends, though I think the lack of in-person interaction will get harder as we go along. Even my youngest is getting some talk time in with his friends while playing Fortnite. As much as I dislike the game, I do appreciate that it gives him some virtual time with friends right now. I am truly thankful that we have the technology to allow us to keep in touch with friends, to work, and even go to school when we can’t leave our home.

For me, I am hoping this time allows me to write more. Besides the therapeutic aspect for me, I also want to document. This time in our lives is something my kids will tell their kids about someday. Maybe they will look back on these pages and realize why mom was so nuts during that time. Maybe they will appreciate having this time to slow down and be together. Either way, this Pandemic is a piece of history being made and like it or not, we’re here for it.

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