We have exhausted all options for exploring our neighborhood recently in an attempt to get outside and get some fresh air during our shelter-in-place order here. The plus side is that the kids have gotten a lot of time to ride bikes. Mr. 7 year old joined the ranks of children who learned to ride without training wheels. My social media feed has been exploding with kids with this new found confidence on two wheels — a benefit to this situation. I love seeing people share such good news!
Mr. 4 year old has been loving his trike because he can power slide. (That’s his dad coming through.) The downside is that hills are difficult, causing him to jump off and push. When I walk with the kids, I want to walk….not run…not stroll…walk. So, my solution was to get a long ribbon and tie it around the front of Mr. 4 year old’s trike when we go up hills or when he gets too tired. I still get to walk, Mr. 4 year old gets to ride, and we can keep up with Mr. 7 year old. Win, win, win!
I haven’t been writing for the blog much lately with the pandemic’s shelter-in-place order in effect, mainly because it’s hard to find the time (or more so the energy) to write when I’m dual-hatting my career and homeschooling two little kids. I’m literally on the run from 6am when my alarm goes off so I can log into work before everyone else wakes up to 8pm when the kids are in bed. Then, I’m toast and out of power. Sometimes I muster up the energy for additional work after tucking the kids in, but it’s low-key items….trying to place online orders, catching up on the kids’ school emails (never ending!), getting organized for the next day, etc.
My husband understands our need to reset and unwind on the regular though, and he found this great Netflix special for us this week that I loved. I was in tears laughing through Middleditch and Schwartz, a Netflix comedy special featuring Thomas Middleditch (best known for his role in Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (from Parks and Rec and the voice of Sonic).
It’s an improv special showing the pair onstage delivering their performance to a theatre full of people (soooo 2019). There is no script. Middleditch and Schwartz walk onstage, provide a quick intro, and then ask the audience for a prompt based on an event coming up. They pick a random person’s suggestion from the audience, have a few minute discussion with them about the scenario, and then start the skit.
Middleditch and Schwartz play everyone and switch roles regularly. It’s hilarious to see the diversity of the characters, the well-crafted jokes they build in real time, and the confusion that mounts as they add people to the scene. My only gripe is that only three episodes were released.
If you need a break from the 24/7 news cycle or just a good laugh, check it out and let me know what you think.
Apps like Zoom, Facebook messenger, Skype, and Facetime have been a lifesaver for me the past few weeks. They have kept me and my family sane by connecting us with families and friends. The kids can have play dates, I can have virtual happy hours, school sessions occur, and my work gets done.
I think many of us were familiar with these tools and used them in various ways, but perhaps not as frequently or with the same groups of people. Now they are often the best way to share and communicate with others.
If you haven’t already connected your young kids to their friends and young family, I recommend giving it a try. I can’t follow Mr. 7-year-old’s conversation about Pokemon or whatever video game, but his friends and cousins can and seem to love catching up. I’ve seen kids playing video games together online, somehow playing hide and seek, connecting via Facebook Messenger for kids, and separately but somehow together having Bakugan battles.
Relatives can read stories, play board games (with the kids taking their turn for them), and sing songs. Sometimes just giving the kids a new audience is all they need to lift their moods (and give mom and dad a few minute reprieve).
My husband even uses such tech for online DnD sessions. We are all finding our way online to stay connected to each other. I hope you are too.
Earlier this week I shared on social media the sad new reality of our family’s monthly calendar update for April — blank and boring while sheltering in place to combat this coronavirus.
Since about the only “event” left on the calendar are mom and dad’s nights off, it sparked some interest. Let me share these with you and how much I love them! I look forward to my night off coming around ever week.
We started these nights off when Mr. 7-year-old was a baby and it’s been a tradition ever since. The person with the night free is off the hook from making dinner, cleaning it up, and putting the kids to bed. Typically, we are free to leave the house and do whatever we please or lock ourselves in the basement and binge watch Netflix or play whatever video game.
Why once a week? It works for us. Typically we share evening duties at home, and it’s a weekly chance to take a break. I know myself. If it’s not scheduled, I’m not going to take time for myself. It’s a way I hold myself accountable.
Of course, we’re flexible. Typically there’s one Friday night a month that I get to hang out and drink wine with my neighborhood friends for ladies night, so we switch off. My husband recently took a weekend off to binge play Dungeons and Dragons, which was completely fine.
These nights off have been particularly important for my mental health now being trapped here homeschooling and working what feels like 24/7. I think I’ll use my next night off to go to bed early!
It’s really Friday? All of my days are blending together, one a repeat of the other as we continue this social distancing effort. Our kids are officially not returning to the classroom for the rest of the academic year, which takes us to mid-June. That’s three months of a new normal of attempting to balance homeschooling or just generally keeping the kids alive with working. So far, it’s working out with my husband’s support. I don’t know what we’ll do when he has to go back to the office.
But, for now, it’s Friday. My family is all together and healthy. The weather is beautiful. And there’s two days on the horizon that I can just focus on the family instead of work too.
With every event under the sun cancelled for the foreseeable future, all neighborhood and family egg hunts have been called off as well. We’ve had our own egg hunts throughout the house, but then decided to start spreading the love to our neighbors. We took all of the supplies we had of little Easter toys and stuffed them in the couple of dozen eggs we had around the house.
We then spent the afternoon hiding them in a couple of neighbors’ front yards. We even got to watch (from a safe distance) some of the kids go on their hunts because my kids were caught hiding the eggs. Apparently, my kids are impossibly loud, making it difficult to sneakily hide eggs.
Anyway, it was fun and hopefully brought some joy to the neighborhood. I know my kids enjoyed it!
The coronavirus is dominating the news and watercooler conversations these days. I’ve generally been keeping my head down and not worrying about something I can’t control (Though I did have the whole family using tons of hand sanitizer when we were in the ER last weekend.)
Apparently it’s been a topic of conversation among the kids at school though. Mr. 7 Year Old is my anxious kid as it is, and the news of the coronavirus reaching the US has bothered him. And then I saw this comic come across my social media newsfeed and had to share it. It’s a comic geared for kids explaining the coronavirus. Check it out!
Mr. 4 year old asked this week, “If Daddy wants to play with me and you want me to help you with work, would you cut me in half?” Such a wacky, but innocently sweet, question from my little man. (We’ll gloss over that daddy is perceived as the fun one and I’m the one working around the house.)
It’s not unusual to have these dilemmas about sharing in our household though, whether that’s who gets the treasured “truck spoon” pictured above or who gets to open the garage door. Cutting a person or object in half is rarely the answer.
I don’t have room in my brain to remember if big brother got the blue cup last time or not. I don’t know whose turn it is (and I frankly don’t care), so I solved the issue with a simple rule. Odd days of the month are for Mr. 7 year old and even days are for Mr. 4 year old. Now the kids don’t argue over whose turn it is. Instead, they see that they disagree on something and ask what day it is. The victor celebrates the win while the other pouts but quickly moves on. (And, bonus, my kids quickly learned about even and odd numbers!)
You may be thinking, “That’s great, Stephanie, but you are favoring odd days. Many months have 31 days, giving Mr. 7 year old more days than Mr. 4 year old.” Nope! The 31st (and Feb 29 this year) are mommy and daddy’s days. We get to open the garage door those days.