As the world begins to open back up after the stay at home order, and we begin to venture forth from our safe haven, I have a lot of mixed feelings. Once I grow accustomed to a situation, I generally don’t adapt quickly to change, especially since becoming a mom. And although, there were plenty of challenges involved with staying at home with two very young children, the truth is, I’m not quite ready for quarantine to be over.
I admit it is nice to be somewhere other than home or even our backyard and neighborhood. We went to the Play Cafe today, and it was refreshing to be able to play and not worry about the mess it was making. Although now, it seems much harder to actually get up and out the door, but there was a bit of excitement that got us moving.
My 1-year-old and 3-year-old couldn’t wait to get back to the Play Cafe. We enjoyed the simple pleasure of walking through the door into a building; something we haven’t experienced together in nearly three months! The simplicity of a tidy space. Room to breathe, to move, to take our first, toddling steps into our new post-quarantine normal. The baby enjoyed climbing the playground equipment and ample space for walking practice, opportunities he had missed out on since the stay-at-home order prevented us from attending Tumblebees at Kids First like we did with his older brother. It was enjoyable to relax with my beloved iced coffee and to spend some time with other adults and other children other than my own.
But I get home and am hit with an intense, all too familiar, wave of anxiety. The pressure to do all the activities. Swimming, berry picking, professional photo sessions, playdates, all while trying to keep up with virtual camps. Not to mention a vacation coming up in less than two weeks!
During the quarantine, my overall anxiety level was decreased.
There was nowhere to go, no commitments to keep, no activities to miss, no choices to make about which events to attend. No guilt about not making it to church or obligation to socialize with family and friends. It was okay, even applauded, to stay home and do nothing. Granted, I did feel some pressure to fill my sons’ days with enrichment and make sure I was “doing quarantine right”- doing all of the virtual storytimes, Cincinnati Zoo home safaris, sensory bins, structured play, and as much free play outside as possible, but overall, I felt more comfortable with doing less. Learning to be more present with my children, removing the distractions, fully engaging and spending quality time with them.
My husband was working from home and able to provide help in a pinch if I needed to run an errand or put the baby down for a nap, or if I needed an extra set of hands to keep the toddler entertained and out of trouble. He was there to help shoulder the burden and share in the joy of being parents of young children during quarantine.
Now, with quarantine over, things are changing once again, and starting to go back to normal. And some of the changes brought about by COVID-19, like my husband working from home, have just become a part of our new normal. But just because the stay at home order has been lifted and quarantine is over, it doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that everything has to change. Social distancing is still vital. Sometimes “no” is still the better choice.
I hope and pray that I am able to take things I have learned during this time into our next chapter. It is okay not to do everything. The kids are still happy and healthy with less. And I am, too.