COVID-19, family activities, family life, Multitasking, parenthood, parenting

Slipping Our Way Into a New Reality

Obviously, all of our lives have been turned upside down. So it’s funny to think of pointing out some of the ways that things are different. But this morning, when I saw the pile of slippers, it really hit me how much little symbols and items can signal large changes. And I started thinking about the things that I see around our house (because really, where else am I these days?) that represent the changes in our lives.

So here is a list. I’d love to see your Corona-home-mess list too!

  1. Slippers: We are not a slippers family. We happen to own slippers for two main reasons. (1) We have brought them back from some of our travels when we don’t know what other small item to bring the kids or to have them buy for themselves and (2) We have kids who live in dorms, and they like to have slippers there. But we just don’t wear slippers in our regular lives. The kids are never home for long enough, or are never sedate enough. Basketball practice, basketball playing in the backyard, judo, soccer…they are on the go so much that they never use slippers. And I never use them because I’m driving them to all of those locations! The pile of slippers that caught my eye today is the first sign that something is very different in the Sussman house.
  2. Water bottles: When all of this chaos started, we pulled out water bottles and slapped names on them. This way, when we want to drink during the course of the day we (1) Don’t dirty a new cup, and then another cup and another cup and (2) We don’t share those germs (hopefully – at least one area where we don’t!). Everyone has his (or her) bottle and each bottle gets brought to the table for our communal lunch and dinner.
  3. Oh the tablecloths! We have a dining room table that fits many and it typically sits abandoned during the week. Three of our kids go to dorm schools, so during the week, we always eat at the kitchen table without a tablecloth. Now, however, we are eating all of our meals together at the dining room table, and have a tablecloth for every single meal. Sometimes we can milk it to get two meals out of the tablecloth – sometimes we can’t. I think I’m doing more tablecloth laundry than I am clothing laundry (since we aren’t going anywhere!).
  4. The Food Schedule: Typically, in our regular lives, I do a large grocery shopping once a week. I don’t really menu plan, but simply pull stuff out in the evening and make whatever I’m in the mood for or find we have a lot of at that time. Now, however, with 8 people home for 21 meals a week (yikes!) we have to be organized. AND going to the grocery store is like stepping out into a Mad Max movie, so I want to limit my exposure and keep my blood pressure down. We have a schedule each week which lists which kid is making lunch and which is making dinner every single day. We help them to come up with ideas at the beginning of the week and then we stick to that schedule as much as possible (well, unless something needs eggs and then out the window it goes!). This plan has really helped in many ways. It’s allowed me to keep my sanity around cooking for 8, has enabled the kids to gain some great cooking skills and has opened their eyes to just how much food is needed to feed this many!
  5. The Creativity Corner: My kids are very, very athletic but some of them are also artistic. The athleticism always wins out, and it’s a very rare instance when anyone sits down to draw or paint. When the crisis started, one kid pulled out his pencil drawing kit and another ran to the art store to buy fresh paints. We are now immersed in the world of artistic expression, whether that expression involves pencil drawing pandas, acrylic painting sunsets or crayon drawing Harry Potter figures.

These are just a few of the physical manifestations of how the virus is changing the look and feel of my home. Certainly, it doesn’t touch upon the emotional or psychological impact, but we are doing the best way can each day to stay sane and to keep the kids grounded and healthy (both emotionally and physically) while staying within 100 meters of our home. Looking around your home, what physical evidence do you see of a life turned upside down? Of a family or individual coping the best way they know how?

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