Let me start by saying I understand this pandemic has hit everyone in different ways. As for me, and many teachers L.A. County, it has meant teaching remotely for going on a year now (while having your little ones at home!). I have many times thought, “How can I do this?” Finally this past week I read a slew of articles about working moms during the pandemic (and how we are failing them). Ah, I felt heard. It is not just me! These articles also pointed to problems that already existed pre-pandemic with childcare, workplace policies around families/children (or lack there of), disparity in pay, etc. I want to say thank you to these articles. That is all. Moving on.
Going on a year of not actually working with students in person, or seeing friends, or going on trips, or seeing family, or going anywhere–my mental state is not good, and I’m trying to find joy in the every day without completely losing my mind. So I developed some routines.
#1) I buy fresh flowers almost weekly. After a friend made me a fancy Thanksgiving floral masterpiece, I realized how much it helped lift my mood. I have never had fresh flowers in my home, but my mom makes sure every time I visit they are all around her house. So maybe it makes me feel like my mom, who I miss tons (especially every evening when Kenzy starts to cry–and says “Nana and Papa”). I am not paying top dollar for them, and I don’t really care what they look like. They bring me joy.
#2) I apply for jobs in the morning before my daughter wakes up. It reminds me of my worth & gives me hope that all this isn’t permanent. Yesterday I got an email that said, “We loved your resume and want to interview you!” followed by an email five minutes later that said “Sorry for our last email. It was a mistake. We have reached our max number of interviewees.” This made me laugh so loud and was such a Monday morning thing to do to me.
#3) I wear workout clothes all day, every day. Less laundry, more likely to move my body.
#4) I have Starbucks delivered to me every week. It sounds so ridiculous, but I have saved on so many random costs by literally not going anywhere–so this luxury is worth it. Kenzy has gotten WAY to used to it, “Mom the Starbucks is at the gate!”
#5) We celebrate holidays for at least a month. I buy cheap decor on Amazon & we decorate for things like Valentine’s Day, which I had never ever thought about doing (sure, let’s stick decal hearts all over our walls). It’s Kenzy’s way of telling the time, though not sure how well it’s working because she says, “It’s almost Halloween!” almost daily.
#6) I have lazy mornings. I used to have to wake up at 6am just to make it to my job on time. If I wanted to exercise, that meant 5am. For decades. So I take it easy. I still wake up early (thanks raging insomnia!), but I relish in the fact that I don’t have to get in my car. I have breakfast. I waste time. I hug my kid. I write.
#7) I get outside. Every. Day. (In L.A. weather, this is not a hard thing to do.) Usually at least twice a day for neighborhood workouts–they are short most of the time, when there’s a break in the schedule. It is nice being able to do this during a lunch break rather than saving it all for evening or early AM.
#8) I am a planner. Pandemics haven’t been great for planners. Because my stress was out of control, I adopted a day-to-day philosophy. I used to have my teaching planned out months in advance. Now I say, “What do I need for tomorrow?” It feels like a survival-mode thing to do, but it keeps me from working loads of overtime just to get ahead of the game. Lower quality may have to be enough for now.
#9) I stop my work days by 4:30 or 5. I do this for my sanity and for my kid. I used to do work whenever I had pockets of time, but I no longer allow myself that on weekends or at night. It means I have to be way more productive than I feel like being during work hours, but after a month of trying this–it has finally brought me some separation from home and work.
#10) I let go of my business (for now). This was easy in a way because it is an event-business & events still aren’t happening out here. We still managed to do some virtual stuff & even some in person small gatherings in the fall (and I’m currently working on a larger “branded” event for a business), but I haven’t sought out or advertised for anything since last April. It’s not that I don’t care, but it was one thing I could press pause on without it suffering. There were moments I wanted to take advantage of the fact that my events are outdoors and could be completely spread out or done in cars, etc–but my time just didn’t allow for it.
There are other things I wanted to be routine “taking a shower everyday” or “making homemade meals” that never became routine. But the above list has really helped me lately, when the novelty of it all has worn off. I mean, it was never novel to stay at home in order to prevent the spread of a worldwide pandemic–but I did used to order Saturday night cocktails for a “party-like-feel” and now I don’t drink at all. The newness of being isolated & hundreds of thousands of people dying has worn off, but the effects and challenges of it have not.
I am so happy to report my parents are about to get their 2nd doses of the vaccine. This is the light at the end of the tunnel for me, and for Kenzy, who is desperate to hang out with them again–mostly because their house has stairs but also because they are her “people.” Kenzy holds it together so well during the day, but I think her nightly tears routine over Nana and Papa are a tiny release of everything a 3yr old must be feeling, too. Whatever gets you through the day, folks. I support it. Stay healthy & safe. Miss you all!