This post is part of a weeklong series we’re doing here to document a typical day in the life of local moms during the COVID-19 pandemic and under California’s stay-at-home orders. It was written at the end of April by our Contributor Liz McTan, a musician who also blogs as Redheaded Rambling Mama.
It’s been well over a month of sheltering in place for Orange County residents and for many that has meant a serious change in our day to day life. I know for each of us going through this incredibly challenging time we are learning different lessons, and adjusting our schedules and expectations in different ways.
Same Storm. Different Boat.
One of the things I loved reading most recently is the saying “same storm, different boat.” Often you’ll hear people say “we can do this together” or “we are all in the same boat.” However if we are truthful the privileges and difficulties are different for each family, with some having more similarities than others. Our family has adjusted with relative ease compared to many. So our storm seems like a small downpour of stressors that may build up. Or maybe like we are in a really nice yacht with a small leak that we can see will eventually be a real issue but so far is okay?
While others who try to balance full time work from home and manage distance learning with their kids, and providing socialization and balanced meals are seriously dumping out their buckets of water as they go. While we all are worried about our health, our families, the numbers of people in the ICU and deaths and what measures really help us. Different boat, same storm.
A Day In The Life Of Redheaded Rambling Mama
So let’s look at my day? We are lucky because of a few things. We have our own house, we have a yard, and my husband has a flexible work schedule as he is in real estate. I am only doing this stay-at-home mom thing right now as all my freelance work has dried up.
6-7am: Juniper (our three-year-old) wakes us up with a yell for milk. I bring it to her, and tell her to read her books until her clock turns green at 7:30 which is when her Dad will get her and they will have breakfast together and watch cartoons. I head back to bed since I don’t sleep well at night given the giant belly.
8:30-9am: I get up and make myself a whipped coffee (sort of, I’m very impatient but totally down with the trends) and some oatmeal. My husband Oliver starts his work day checking emails and texts. Juni continues watching cartoons, colors, and free plays. We really aren’t limiting screen time too much lately so this is flexible.
10am: Oliver goes running or biking, or works out in the garage. If I am lucky Juni wants to and she joins him on the run or bike ride in a stroller or trailer. He also takes our two big dogs with him if they are up for it, and I get a half hour alone to update social media and check email (to what purpose I don’t know! I guess it’s habit *shrug emoji*). I’ll drink my coffee more slowly, or call my mom who lives in Philadelphia and check on our family.
If I am not lucky, she refuses to go and instead wants to climb my body like a human jungle gym while I fight off acid reflux. Then she demands more TV time. I internally debate whether that is okay and start figuring out what activity would be best. We sometimes do chalk art, or she rides her bike back and forth on the sidewalk out front of our house.
10:30am: Educational time? Crafts and letter tracing mostly. Usually I question how time is moving like a bowl of chili and why is it only 10:30? Sometimes I try to do something creative simultaneously. You can see my songwriting materials below in a discarded pile while she proudly shows off the many art projects she’s done this week.
11am: Trying to do active play outdoors like “swimming” in the hot tub, bike riding back and forth in front of our house, playing with the water table, or playing with her toys which are many. I try to encourage independent play but like she’s 3 so that’s only so successful. It’s not all bad honestly, we have a decent attitude during this time of day since I’m caffeinated and she’s still happy.
12pm: Lunch time. It’s simple stuff over here folks. We don’t cook any meal but dinner. So sandwiches, fruit, nuts, yogurt, that kind of thing. We all kind of eat at our own places. My husband is in the kitchen, I’m on the couch, and she’s at her play table. She’s definitely still sometimes watching cartoons during this.
12:30pm: Husband goes back to work on his computer. Outdoor play, water table, play house, gardening. Sometimes a bike ride around the block where I and my giant belly halfheartedly jog behind her yelling “RED LIGHT!” every half block. Sometimes we play in the garage on her “butterfly swing” which is a jerry-rigged kid-sized trapeze over my husbands wrestling mats. Or we do the American toddler warrior challenge which is her trampoline, an A-frame wood climbing thingy I bought on amazon, and the swing together.
Then The Storm Hits
1:30-2pm: Juniper’s daily melt down. She’s hot. She’s tired. And I’m short on patience. She usually hits me a few times, possibly in the face (don’t act like your kid has never slapped you, they’ve all done it at least once). She’s claiming she’s mommy and I’m Juni. I say that if that’s the case then maybe Juni needs a time out, hoping that she falls for it and makes me go to my room.
I am tired of actively playing and being told by a toddler that I’m playing wrong. I think longingly about the days where she used to go to preschool.
I wrestle her inside, surfboard carry her to her bed, and tell her she has to have quiet time. She doesn’t have to sleep but she does have to stay in her room.
I yell desperately at our Echo Dot “ALEXA PLAY THE FROZEN 2 SOUNDTRACK!” and say “mama loves you I just really need a minute okay!?! Read books! I love you! You are allowed to feel your feelings!”
Here is when I close the door, and tip toe away hoping this is still considered gentle parenting. She usually falls asleep in less than 10 minutes. If not she still has to stay in there for minimum of an hour playing quietly. Mama is done.
Redheaded Rambling Mama Break Time
2 – 3:30/4pm: On good days this is a two hour break from momming. I feel the sweet release of parental responsibility. I sit down and eat whatever chocolate is in the house and scroll aimlessly on my phone commenting and judging others for not sheltering in place correctly. I do kick counts. I worry.
I day dream about whether Target and Starbucks misses me the way I miss them. I read endless articles about the hospital policies in various parts of the country. I might write an article like this one. (It’s currently 2:43 pm on shmurthsday the 98th of septapril).
I usually make a few phones calls to check in with friends so we can vent to each other about our children and spouses, and how hard this is. Then we also acknowledge that we know how privileged we are in some sort of way, and that also makes us feel intense guilt.
Because we are moms and that is what we do. Feel Guilt.
My husband is either working or playing music if he has a break. He tries to practice or work on new musical projects at least an hour a day. I think this is good? Maybe. He appears to feel zero guilt.
Sometimes I’ll pick up my ukelele and try to be creative too. Occasionally he will want to use this time to record a video of us doing a song to post online so we still feel like productive creative humans. Often I insist instead of doing any of those things, we clean the house or do a project to get ready for the baby (we are still midway through painting their room).
This is basically the adult version of free play and my favorite time of day. Don’t judge me for it being when my kid is not there. She’s 3 and not always the best companion.
Back To Work
4ish pm: My kid wakes up. She’s clingy and cranky and demands milk most days. I give her said milk and she is on my body for at least an hour and we watch more Lion Guard on Disney+. From here on out it’s a blur. I try to get her to turn the tv off. She cries. I might cry too if I’m hormonal enough and I’ve taken in too much news on social media.
The dogs look at us like we are crazy and they would prefer we were elsewhere so they could nap in peace. I take deep breaths and tell myself to feel gratitude and tell myself it’ll be over soon, while not knowing if I mean the quarantine or the day. Sometimes the snuggling is nice and really what we both need to slow down our minds and hearts. Other times I feel like I may scream from being touched out since most of her play involves touching me. I might try to do something with her like a craft. It’s really a jumble. Anyone’s guess.
6pm: My husband ends his work day or whatever he’s doing to cook dinner or I order delivery while he plays with Juni. When he’s almost finished dinner I’ll put on a TV show for her, make her mac and cheese and some fruit or veggies, and put it on her play table while we eat in the dining room unless she’s being remarkably cooperative and joins us.
6:30pm: We head back outside if possible for some more of some sort of activity like the water table or more biking around the block and waving at neighbors as they walk past our house. People are so friendly lately, while giving social distance. I do find that lovely and encouraging. However we are both pretty burnt out. Energy is low.
Parenting Hack: if your kid insists you color, just lay down. It’ll be FINE. Try not to think about coronavirus being carried on shoes by the mailman.
7:30pm: Bath or shower time for the kiddo. We are almost there. The home stretch people! It’s time for a book, teeth brushing (a whole new level of wrestling), and to put her to bed.
8pm: Deep breath out. We made it. We sit on the couch and stare at our phones for minimum of a half hour.
8:30-10pm: We watch a tv show together, maybe practice some music. Talk about anything we read in the news that day. Every couple days this is alone time, not together time. That means I’ll read or watch a TV show he doesn’t like and he plays video games or music by himself in the other room.
We eat the candy she doesn’t know exists.
10pm: We collapse into our bed after showering, and then I read myself to sleep since my brain won’t turn off.
That’s it folks. Then we do it all again the next day like some weird pandemic version of Groundhog’s Day. There is no difference for us between weekends and weekdays so I cannot tell you what day it is. I do know that there are some things I’ll probably continue once the lock down is over.
For me that is making sure I take time for myself every day. Spending lots of time outside.
However the boat is leaky, and I know that because this whole situation will be changed in 7 weeks when this baby arrives. Wish me luck.
What is your day to day like? Is it the same daily? Do you have a schedule? I honestly didn’t realize we did until I wrote this out. Have you found a new normal? Let us know in the comments what your boat looks like while we are all in this great big storm. And stay tuned for another “day in the life of” post tomorrow!