Well, well, well, I guess it takes a world pandemic to pull me out of nearly a year long blog hiatus. So…HELLO, howdy, how’ve you been?
How’s everyone holding up in the face of an economic demise and the impending healthcare crisis? I’m upbeat about 60% of the time and spending 40% of the time panicking about how to birth a baby in a pandemic (yay! we’re having a baby, in case you didn’t know) and how to homeschool all the children via distance learning, while feeding them all the snacks and trying not going insane. It’s been a wild two and a half weeks my friends.
I realize our complaints are pretty trivial as we are fortunate to have our health, employment, et all. I just thought I’d check in and maybe share a few things that are helping keep Casa de Ahrens semi-sane. Related: semi-sane is evaluated here on a day by day basis. 😉
Alrighty gals, follow my lead. Let’s bring those expectations low, lower, eveeeeen lower. There, now we can set ourselves up for a successful quarantine. If I’ve learned one thing from having a passel of small children in a relatively short time is ya gonna have to let some shit go. That’s just the truth. With that said, the kids (and you/your husband) are going to need some rough boundaries for each day. So what HAS to be done? Prioritize accordingly and the rest is just extra. Like so extra you can just forget about it.
Obviously each family is different so this will look different for your family (particularly if you don’t have a non-working parent) but for the sake of illustrating my point, here are our daily expectations for the kids.
Make your bed, get dressed. Brush your teeth. Packet work for school, outside time, chores as assigned. That’s it. Are there more things on our daily schedule? Usually, yes. But those are the only Big Things that are expected to be completed each day. Let everything else go.
I have always been a planner for my entire life but I can take no credit for what I am about to share. My friend Laura, a teacher, school administrator, and all around child behavior guru, shared this tool with me about six months ago and it hasn’t failed me yet. Which I cannot say about all of the cutesy chore charts/coupons/etc that I have tried over the years. I present to you the gospel of the whiteboard.
- Get yourself a clean sheet of paper or a whiteboard if you have one handy in your pre-corona stash.
- Write out your daily schedule. I do broad categories as not to get bogged down in specifics. Hot tip for moms of younger kids, leave off the actual times (ie 9:00-9:15 am) to avoid meltdowns and to give yourself a little flexibility if you’re running ahead or behind.
- On the bottom of the page/board list each child’s name and their daily chores that have been assigned.
That’s it. I know it sounds crazy but my kids LOOOOOVE having the security of what we’re doing for the day + the autonomy to cross off their chores as they are completed. Sometimes they’re fun, “make cookies with mom” and sometimes they’re necessary “wipe down the bathroom” but they do them. every.single.time. I don’t know why it works but it does. I have told strangers in the grocery store about this method because it is so effective.
Feeding the Crew
The snacks. Good God, the snacks. Even though I pack the kids’ lunches for school every day, having them home for three meals, plus snacks has proven a test for my meager at best homemaking skills. Particularly with our store shelves being mostly bare the last week. So in a sliver of a silver lining, we have essentially cleaned out our pantry and freezer (we’ll just call that our additional Lenten sacrifice).
I typically meal plan for the month so I can plan protein purchases from Costco and then weekly shop at the local store for fresh produce, milk, lunchbox items. I’m still roughly doing the same but I’ve been posting a daily menu on the fridge to keep kids (and husband) from asking what are we having for dinner and can I have a snack? If it’s not on the menu, it’s not available today. It’s also helping me keep track of our actual snack stock and food rations, which sounds more dire than it actually is but I’m just trying to limit our trips to the grocery store as much as possible.
Hype word to be sure but ladies, put on your oxygen mask first. I was trying to handle all the the things the first week and that ended in me having a mental breakdown at 9 pm. Super fun for all parties involved.
So, I deleted the dumpster fire that is Twitter off my phone (I had already given up IG for lent), try to avoid the news cycle of destruction and invest my time in things I actually enjoy. Which means picking up my library book (The Dutch House), learning how to make sourdough bread, taking a daily walk, and coloring with my kids.
I’ve also kept a healthy text thread going with girlfriends from college which keeps me cracking up through the day. I’ve also been using new apps like Marco Polo (which is literally like a real-time Real Housewives confessional from all of your friends), Zoom for meeting with our women’s small group from church, and What’s App to keep up with all my school moms on how to manage all the things on the daily.
So that’s it. How we’re making it through. I also have a few fun things that the kids have enjoyed that I may make into a separate post as this has turned into a novella at this point. Anything saving your bacon that I need to know about? I know I don’t need to tell you but stay home, stay healthy. Love you, mean it.