I feel like this week has lasted two years and it’s only Wednesday. I’ll be honest, I’ve been struggling with what to write. Not only what to write, but when to write. Trying to keep your kids entertained at home while also trying to maintain your business (especially when your business is writing about what you do with your kids) is NO JOKE. But we are healthy, we are managing and we are doing what we are supposed to, which is the most important thing.
We’ve been taking social distancing seriously since last Thursday (when our school closed), so we are currently on Day Seven. Our school closed two days before our scheduled Spring Break, so technically right now we are on a two week vacation. Last week, when we were in the city, I think Mike was still in denial and trying to process that we had canceled our plans to go skiing in Park City. Of course, this week, the ski resorts shut down, so I guess that finally put the kibosh on any lingering doubts. A lot has changed in a few short days!
On Thursday morning, I woke up early and went to a local grocery store at 9am. I wore gloves as a precaution. I’m not a germaphobe by any stretch of the imagination, so this was my first time trying to exercise some real caution beyond handwashing. I kept taking off my gloves to check my list on my phone and then touching things accidentally. It’s very hard for a non-germaphobe to suddenly adopt germaphobe behavior. I was imagining crazy crowds looting the grocery store, but it was pretty empty. The shelves were all stocked, like nothing was going on. There was plenty of food and no panic. It made me feel way more at ease.
But by the end of the day, a lot had changed. Friends were sending me videos of their local markets with people everywhere, grabbing whatever they could find. Either I was operating a few hours ahead of everyone or going to a local market as opposed to a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s was the right call.
On Thursday and Friday, we were pretty lax with the kids. We let them have as much screen time as they wanted. No guilt about that whatsoever. I spent my time trying to warn everyone on social media about what was coming. Telling everyone to stay home. On @averageparentproblems, I got a fair amount of shit for it. It was a bit of a wake-up call. There were a lot of comments about blowing this out of proportion and about how I was privileged for having the option to work from home.
I want to be clear about a two things.
1) I know a lot of people have to go to work to get paid. Grocery store clerks, restaurant servers, delivery people, sanitation workers, caregivers, hospital staff, truck drivers, etc. I appreciate every single one of you. My plea for people to stay home was aimed at the people who have the choice, the business owners who can convert their employees to work-from-home operations, and the young people who want to go out and party like the this pandemic doesn’t affect them. The more people (those of us who have a choice) who stay home, the more space we create for everyone else to do their jobs without risk of getting sick.
2) Mike and I are not salaried workers. We work for ourselves and are reliant on income from brand deals. When I say that I am working from home, it does not mean that I am getting paid for that work. I am creating free content in the hopes of securing brand deals. I don’t sell anything and I make no passive income. I operate more like a freelancer who gets paid per project. So far, four potential deals have been put on hold. Financially, this is a scary time for me too. Not as scary as for some people, but still scary.
On Friday night, Harlow heard someone blasting music outside. She went on the balcony to check it out. We couldn’t really see them, but it looked like two people on a rooftop around the corner had put their speakers on Volume 11. For the next hour, we danced our hearts out. It felt so so good.
You can see a full video of Harlow dancing here. It’s worth it.
A lot of people wondered why we didn’t flee to our house immediately. We stayed in the city for a few reasons.
1) If this is going to last a long time (and I think that it is), we figured we didn’t have to rush. Staying in the city for a bit and then going to the house would be a way to break up the monotony.
2) I love NYC. I love the feeling of being surrounded by so many people. I love seeing the lights of the buildings at night. I love going out on my balcony and seeing the people on other rooftops around the East Village. I love all the restaurant options and walking around the neighborhood and being in a few block radius from everything I need to survive. I love that I can look out my window at 3am and still see people walking on the sidewalk and cars driving down the street. I love ALL THE SIGNS OF LIFE. New Yorkers are a social people who take comfort in living amongst so many others. When 9/11 happened, my instinct was to double down on my life there, not escape. NYC is my home. So, leaving, and knowing I would not be going back for awhile, was not the easiest thing.
We finally left on Sunday morning because I began to fear that they would put the city on lockdown and then we would be trapped there. New cases in NYC were doubling every day and trips to the grocery store started to get pretty intense. The grocery stores in Manhattan are much smaller than what people are accustomed to in the suburbs, with skinnier aisles and way more people, so it’s really hard to go without being in close contact with various people. Most of the stores were running out of all their food soon after opening, so going somewhere where the pandemic hadn’t quite hit yet seemed necessary. Also, our two bedroom apartment was starting to feel pretty claustrophobic. I was doing conference calls in the bathroom just to get some quiet. I didn’t even want to go to our local coffee shop anymore, so the social aspect of being in NYC had pretty much vanished.
We packed up our stuff— all our food, cleaning supplies and clothes. It was interesting packing my bag with only my comfiest items. My at-home loungewear, if you will. Every day I’ve been wearing some hybrid of real clothes, workout clothes and pajamas.
Mike left to get our car. That was another fear I had. We park it in a garage and need an attendant to get it out. If there was ever a scenario where the garage closed, we would be stuck without a vehicle. Even if you could get in somehow, you’d have to move 100 cars to get yours out. As we were driving out of the city, it was bizarre to see how many people were still out and about, going to brunch and walking on the crowded streets like it was just a beautiful day and nothing else was going on. That solidified our decision to leave. There were just too many people not taking social distancing seriously.
Unlike the apocalypse movies where everyone is always fleeing the city at once, in bumper to bumper traffic, the highway was eerily car free.
Two hours later, we arrived at our house. After we unpacked the car, I walked into our yard, around the back and down to the dock by our creek. It felt like the last scene of Bird Box when (spoiler alert!) Sandra Bullock arrived at the School for the Blind and they led her into that beautiful garden.
Although, I think we all know, this thing is just beginning.
We feel incredibly lucky to have the house as an option. It’s been four days since we arrived and it’s been amazing having a yard to run around, an empty street to ride bikes and some distance within the house while we are social distancing!
We are very isolated here. That’s good from a health perspective but mentally, it’s a little sad. Not many signs of life. Originally, we had thought that we would hang out with our friends who are also out here, but now, it’s clear we will all keep our distance. I saw a mother with her toddler across the creek yesterday. I think it must be her parents house, because we don’t usually see anyone in their yard. I almost called out to her, but decided against it. Maybe that will seem more normal and necessary in the coming weeks.
During the day, I’ve been trying (and failing to some degree) to institute a schedule with the kids that involves entertainment, some academics and exercise. I’ll talk more about that in a separate post. Mike has been the one going out and gathering supplies— making sure our fridge is fully stocked, that we’ve got toilet paper and wipes, and dealing with the mechanical things that go wrong. Like yesterday, we realized our internet speed is not going to cut it, so we upgraded and he went out to get a new router. We also had a night that I thought our fridge was broken— all the ice cream melted and the temperature wouldn’t go lower than 40º. I totally flipped out and texted my mom (as if she could somehow help me), but in the morning, miraculously, it had reset itself and everything was fine.
Even though I haven’t been able to fully gather my thoughts to write on the blog until now, I’ve been very active on Instagram. Sharing our daily routine on @mommyshorts, some things that make me laugh on @averageparentproblems and stories from our community on @mommyshortssquad. Oh, and tiktok! What is there to do except learn dances with your kids? You can follow me on tiktok at @mommyshorts.
I’ve also been doing more Instagram Lives. Yesterday at 4pm, Mazzy, Harlow and I did a live dance party on @mommyshorts and we plan to do it again tomorrow. Since we are all isolated in our homes right now, social media is playing a huge role in keeping everyone connected. My hope is that I can help bring my followers from all over the world together. For a cry, a smile, a friend. Us remarkably average parents have to stick together.
Much love to all of you in the coming weeks. I’ll be here.