I went back to work for a total of nine days before the schools closed down for COVID-19 and now I am home again with our children and we are doing our best to be positive an grateful for this time together. Nine days did not give me the chance to get into a routine at work yet and being home with my little ones again has made me realize that amidst this chaos, confusion and fear, I need to focus on what I am grateful for. I’ve been given a chance to be home again with our little ones, a chance that no one planned for, and a chance that stemmed from a very scary and serious situation, but even though this is something that came out of a pretty horrible situation I am going to do my best to celebrate what we do have right now because the alternative, the choice to be upset and focus on fear, is not helpful to anyone.
As parents, my husband and I have decided to educate our children on what is happening as much as we can, but we’ve also chosen to allow them to enjoy this time as well. Our kids are small; five, three and 18-months-old so to them we are on holidays … it is kind of like summer break, and as a parent I honestly think this mentality is ok. Yes, as a teacher myself, I still want them to do things that are educational and if the school closures last longer than three weeks we will do what we can to guide our oldest who is our only school-aged-child as best as we can. But in the meantime, I am going to celebrate slow with our children.
As a mom of three I have been off work on maternity leave for approximately 3.5 years over the course of the past five years (going back to work for a period of time between each leave) which has made my life a continuous wave of transitions from fast-paced to slow; a roller-coaster ride where just when I started to get used to one thing, it changes again.
Over the past five years learning to slow down, to embrace my time at home, wasn’t always easy. To be completely honest, one of the main reasons I started a blog was because I was having such a hard time turning my brain off while on maternity leave the first time. Now I am not suggesting that while we are home, while schools and businesses are closing their doors, that we just turn our brains off and do nothing, but I am saying that we try our best to enjoy this slower-pace of life as much as we can. During the last month or so of my recent maternity leave I whole heartily embraced this slower-paced life and now that we are back here again, all at home together, I am going to do my best to embrace it again.
Many of us, myself included, are feeling anxious at this time. The fear of the unknown, a looming illness that could affect any of us at any time, and, of course, the limitations on face-to-face social interaction and therefore a call for social isolation. Yes, the fear is hard to over-look, and yes, having small children and older grandparents adds to this, but while we are being asked to slow down we can also embrace what that means.
Celebrate the Creativity that Comes from Slowing Down
The world has come to a bit of a halt and yes, this is for the most part out of our control, but that does not mean that we can no longer be creative, that we can no longer find ways to interact with one another (hello we’ve been communicating in semi-social isolation since the birth of social media). We’ve got this… we can still communicate in so many ways.
So yes, many of us are freaking out about kids being at home all day and the fact that our calendars are suddenly empty as so many of our plans have come to a screeching halt and about the fact that trying to work from home with children is difficult, believe me… it’s not easy, I totally get that and empathize with this situation. So let’s not make each other feel bad about screen time or our kids watching movies when we need to work. Let’s support one another through this and try to share ideas while staying positive. Many of us are feeling stuck in our homes, but let’s stop and think about what comes from slowing down a bit and celebrate the things we can do!
How we are Embracing Slow Living During this Time at Home
Enjoying Time with our family
So many of us have packed calendars with extra-curriculars, scheduled times for everything in our lives, so the idea of doing nothing is actually so foreign to us. But if you think about it as a little vacation, a chance to re-connect and do the things you might do at the family cottage or while away, it might make things a bit easier. Yes, getting into a routine will help ease the transition a bit, but know that you don’t need to do this if it doesn’t work for you and it doesn’t make you a bad parent if you are not following a strict routine with your kids all day everyday while school is out.
Reading a Book
While on maternity leave it wasn’t always easy to find the time to read, but when I finally decided that this was something I wanted to do I made the time. So instead of watching the News three times over before bed (once you’ve heard it one time you’re probably good) or scrolling on Instagram for hours, give yourself a bit of time each night to dive into a good book or if you’re kids are old enough … dedicate sometime during the day to reading. It’s a beautiful thing!
I’ve always loved the idea of setting up stations for the kids; reading nook here, craft area there … with the hope that they would find their way to these spots and do the activity. And I do have to say that yes, this does work a lot of the time (especially if your kids love doing things independently) but a lot of the time they want you to play with them. Over the past year or so our middle son has asked me a number of times to paint with him, build a pillow fort or play blocks and lately I’ve really found so much joy in this. Colouring and painting are so relaxing and I love taking that time to stop cleaning up or cooking to just enjoy our kids.
Baking is a big hit in our house. The kids love to help out and we all love to taste test at the end. It’s a great time to use what we have, so making our own breads or loaves works great for that. Trying new recipes with only the ingredients we have in our pantry could be a great way to save on trips to the grocery store.
One of the ways I cope with life changes or big decisions is by writing about them… hence this massive blog post on trying to find the silver lining during this outbreak. Staring a morning journal is such a great way to start the day on a positive note instead of opening up our phones and focusing on the negative or overwhelming news.
Going on Walks and Exploring Nature
Nature walks have honestly become our saving grace over the past few days and we hope that they can continue to be a part of our time at home together. Our kids love these walks and so do we. Yes, they are often slow and we stop to look at lots of things along the way, but slowing down is a huge part of what we are doing these days so I am going to try and embrace this as much as possible.
We’ve Started Nature Journals
Our oldest started spotting some pretty amazing things while we were on a walk this weekend and decided that he was going to draw what he saw. So we’ve started a little nature journal where the boys are documenting all of the birds, animals, rocks and other things we see on our walks.
Starting our Garden
We’ve always had a little backyard garden at our house and this time of year is perfect for starting to plant some seeds inside and watch them sprout before adding them to the garden outside. The kids love being a part of this and have been since they were little. The dollar store or local grocery stores often sell seeds and potting soil so you can start your own little garden too.
Working on Small Home Reno Projects or Decluttering a Room
We always have a project on the go, I guess that’s the beauty of living in a “fixer-upper,” there’s always something that needs to be fixed. We are currently putting the finishing touches on our stairway and the playroom, projects that we started a little while ago and I can’t wait to share more on this with all of you soon.
While many stores might not be open right now, things like decluttering or just working with what you already have by rearranging somethings might be a good way to work on a home project without having to leave the house too much.
A Little Peak into Our Slow Days at Home
Our days at home often look similar, but I don’t really follow a strict routine. Over the past few years I’ve learned to embrace the slow pace that comes with being at home with our little ones, so I’ve decided to share what our days look like.
Here are some of the things we do on a regular day at home with our little ones:
Our Slow Days at Home
Mom’s Morning Time … wake up before the kids so I can shower, exercise a bit and drink coffee IN PEACE (I try to write each morning as well … journaling or creating blog content). I don’t do this because I am super human or have a huge to do list, I do it to get in some me time and to help me feel like I’ve accomplished something before the chaos of the day begins. That little bit of me time each day honestly keep me sane lol. Sanity friends, sanity!
Kids Morning Routine … wake up (if it’s the weekend or we are home they do get some screen time in the morning so I can get the baby’s diaper changed and everyone dressed)
— the older kids will make their beds some mornings, but let’s be real, I’m not starting a fight over this at 8:00am
Breakfast … oatmeal, yogurt, fruit cereal (whatever they will eat) this usually happens while watching cartoons
Playtime… we now have a dedicated playroom so they go in there or spill the toys all over the house as per usual (the playroom does help contain some of the mess though so I am happy about that). There are different stations set up in there so they can choose what they feel like doing each day. Excited to share this space with all of you soon.
Second Breakfast (or snack) … I can sometimes convince them to eat this in the kitchen, but again depending on the type of food it often makes its way to wherever they are playing … which leads to lots of crumbs and more vacuuming.
Outside Time, Baking or Craft Time… by this point they have exhausted all of the toys and are no longer interested in cartoons so… if it’s nice out we go outside. I try to get in at least one walk throughout the day. Being cooped up inside is tough for all of us and this helps a lot! If they are interested in doing a craft they will often ask, so I just go with it. Lately we’ve been having some fun with the Nature Journals the boys have created. Paint or play-dough is also a huge hit over here. If it’s a rainy day or we are just craving something delicious, this is usually the time of day when I try to bake with the kids … key word here “try” it’s often a mess and doesn’t always work out, but we try.
Nap or Rest … Our daughter, who is 18-months, and our middle son, who is three, take a nap pretty much every day. Nap time also includes some reading time to help calm everyone down. Our oldest, who is five, will sometimes nap as well, but if not he usually snuggles up with me on the couch and watches a movie. Or he watches a movie and… I run around the house frantically trying to get as much done in that 1.5hour time span while everyone is resting as I can (laundry, emails, clean a bathroom…)
The Post Nap Time (TV Time OR if I feel energetic another walk) by this point in the day I have exhausted most of my energy for fun activities and everyone is either groggy from nap or wanting to run around …. So TV time or another walk until it’s time for dinner prep
Dinner Prep … Mom or Dad Prep Dinner (kids play or watch shows)
Bedtime … bath, books, jumping on the beds fighting sleep, mom or dad sleeps in one child’s bed, child sleeps in our bed … parents sneak downstairs for some shows and their own screen time (aka Instagram and Pinterest Scrolling…. Wine for mom, beer for dad …) bed.
Our days are far from perfect and they are never the exact same, but I have learned to love these slow days with our children and am so grateful to be home with them. While times are tough right now and we are all a bit worried or fearful of the future, I am trying to see the silver lining in all of this and embrace the time we have together. My hope is to bring a positive perspective on the difficult situation that we find ourselves in right now by sharing some ways that we are embracing slow living though this health crisis.
I wish you all love and good heath during these difficult times.