We love to travel but I also love to be home. I thought this was going to be easier than it is. We completed our first week of lock down after Schools were closed Friday, March 13, 2020.
What I imagined vs Reality
My idea was during the week the kids would do the activities I had planned I would still be saving an hour in the morning and evening from not having to commute. If Mike made lunches, I would have 30 minutes at lunch to devote to them. We work staggered shifts so 8-9 am while I am working Mike would have the kids entertained and from 4-5 when he was working I would have the kids entertained. So it was only 7 hours and with the 30 min we each have for lunch 6 hrs we needed to keep them entertained while we worked. Not bad right?
The reality was Mike was in his office mostly from 8am-6pm though he did make lunches. I was on calls for 4-6 hours of the day and doing work in between. Some how we had actually become busier (I think due to the transition). With Mike in his office I was the parent on duty while I worked. In all fairness he had a different impression of the situation and on Friday after my mini-melt down, took over for a few hours while I hid upstairs regaining my sanity.
Everyone is Struggling but We also need to count our Blessings
*Update: Please remember and pray for our Medical workers. They are risking exposure daily. Some of them have separated from their families. Or go through extremely measures daily just to prevent exposures to their family. Some do not hug kiss or sit closer than 6 feet away. Some are looking to stay at hotels. When we think of how hard things are for us. please think of the huge sacrifices all essential service workers are making for all of us. We will get through this. Our economy will come back. We will work again. Our kids will go back again.
My family is healthy today. Mike has his allergies but it’s common with him and no COVID-19 symptoms. We all have allergies at times and Mikey and Mike have dental issues that we have always stayed on top off so 6 months with out anything should be ok. We don’t know what medical services will look like if we can’t flatten the curve.
There’s people with COPD, Hypertension, Asma, Cancer and more or have children who have underlying health issues. There’s people who have already lost loved ones to COVID-19 or currently being hospitalized and there families can’t be there. We are lucky to be healthy and safe right now. And for those who aren’t they need our help by staying home.
We have a good sized house with a backyard in a development where we can ride bikes. We recently turned our finished basement into a laser tag arena and have 2 elliptical that need some attention and we may finally have the time. We also have a hot tub and when the weather gets warm enough a cheap 18′ steel frame pool. There’s a play gym the kids never used and a shed full of out door things.
Many people living in the city have limited space often with out a balcony some with out windows. If you are stuck inside make sure you go for a social distance appropriate walks run or bike. Read at least once or twice a day. Read up on expert advice on how to make things better. Maybe there are light bulbs that are more natural light. Talk to your doctor.
There’s people who are homeless. There are people who can’t afford to pay their rent or mortgage. Please research your options in the State of New York, evictions have been halted for 90 days.
Jobs and Financial Security
We have our jobs. I am thankful that as of now we are both able to work from home and collect a paycheck. While it adds a bit of stress, its much less stress than those dealing with job loss. We have savings. If something was to happen we have savings. They say you should have 6 months of income or bills and I may not quite be there but we have enough. We also have a pension we could borrow from if things got really bad. We also were able to refinance our home for 2.375% so we made a big step toward a financial goal.
We are saving by being home. We are saving around $250 a month in gasoline for our cars because we do not have to travel. I am saving around $30 a month for the cost of parking at my parking lot for work. We are saving over $700 a month for before and after school child care. We are saving on activity fees, entertainment, even person care like hair cuts that we can’t get. Our kids mostly buy lunches and we can often make lunch at home for less so we are saving with that too. I would say we are saving $1,000-$1500 a month by just being home!
If you do not have a household budget. Its the perfect time to make one. Track your expenses as close to every dollar as you can. We use our cc for everything we can so its easy to track. we then take out a limited amount of cash that we may need and that amount is usually not tracked. Mint is free software you can connect your bank and credit card accounts so they automatically update. You will see what you spend during this time. It can help you better budget int he future when there is a large ability to spend money on entertainment and other things. It may also help you see financially what you need to live on now or in the future.
If you have lost your job or been reduced to zero hours. Here’s some tips
- File for unemployment immediately.
- Know what services are available to you including food stamps and other social services. Is your school providing free breakfast and lunches for children? Are restaurants offering any free meals for those in need?
- In New York evictions have been stopped for 90 days. Mortgage payments now have a grace period too. I believe utilities (gas and electrics) also has a grace period they will not shut you off for not paying. Know what bills you need to pay and pay those first. Keep in mind you will have to pay for these service eventually.
- Look for a temporary job. There are a lot of businesses that are essential that need extra help. In Albany DOH is hiring date entry clerks for their lab work. Walmart in Glenville (and maybe others) is hiring stock clerks. While it may not be the ideal job or your line of work it’s income. We don’t know what the future holds and the income may be enough to pay for what you need to through this difficult time.
Our Kids have Each other
While our kids fight fairly regularly they also play well together and can be very caring to each other. I’m glad they have each other and are so close.
If you have one child, remember kids want their parents attention regardless. You don’t have to play referee and you can be your child’s play partner.
Regardless if you have one child or more there’s way kids can stay connected to their friends. Kids can face time or use Zoom to talk, even play together. Some video games allow users from multiple locations to play together. Our kids love Roblox and we have reached out to their friends parents to get their names so that they only connect with those that we know. Please research risks in kids playing on-line and monitor your kids use. You can also have children call grandparents or facetime/zoom with them. Have your kid read to them or talk about their day or read a story they wrote.
Pets are a wonderful thing to have. They are a member of the family and a play partner. They are also comfort. While we all would love to have a dog, we travel to much. We have been considering a pet for a while and the kids really want a hamster. While planning for lock down we consider a pet but realized with so much change and unknown it was not the right time.
In-ground heated pool
I realy would love to have an inground pool. While March is definitely not swimming weather in March I think I would consider cranking up the heater May 1 and start swimming early.
Working full time is a blessing and in some ways a struggle. Some people are lucky enough to be off with pay. Others may be off with out pay and have a different struggle. Not having to work means you have more time to focus on your children and other responsibilities.
There’s parents working from home juggling their children and work but there’s also parents going out of the house every day to work to support essential functions. They struggle to find daycare. They come home exhausted to kids who want and need their attention. While struggling to find time to do the cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping we all now have time for.
If you are like me and trying to balance full time work and children. Here’s some tips
- Remember weeks do not have to be traditional any more. You can use the weekends to focus on educational activities with the kids, riding bikes and playing outside. You can give the kids the attention they need. Rotating between 2 parents can give you time to get chores done. during the week while working you can worry less about what they need to do and focus on just entertaining them during your work shift.
- Children do not need 6-8 hours of daily education. While in the classrom with groups of 20-40 children it’s necessary. when doing more 1 on 1 learning children require less time for education.
- Kids learn through experiences. Educational video or board games, playing grocery story. Building things. Outdoor discovery. There’s many ways to learn that do not require sitting down and doing worksheets.
- Be flexible. By the Thursday we had convinced the kids that they would get ipads and computer after they complete their 2.5hrs of school work. However, Friday are traditionally ipad days for the kids and Friday morning that’s what they wanted. I told them they could h ave ipad for 1 hour but after that they would need to do their school work. I needed to pick my battles while I am working.
There’s also those with older kids or no kids who have too much time on their hands. they are stuck home which they aren’t used to and really struggling. If this is you here’s some tips:
- Plan a schedule to get you moving in the morning. decide a wake up time and bed time and stick to it. having a sleep schedule is important for good sleep. sleep is important for staying healthy.
- Utilize on-line resources if you are able to. Many things available for kids are available for Adults too. Live zoo and animal cams. Animal lectures. Language learning software. Drawing sessions. Youtube has Disney animation academy videos that we all love.
- Write a journal. Journaling is a healthy way to express and manage your feelings. its also a great way to document this experience that will have an ever lasting impact on the world.
- Exercise- Go for a walk, watch a yoga video. there’s many options on the internet or TV.
I have a friend who has 4 kids and their oldest is able to run school for the little ones. Because it’s a different relationship the younger siblings listen. The other child gets a lot of good real life experience. Organizing, presenting, dealing with different personalities while trying to work with them. And the mom gets a small break to keep her sanity.
There’s some single mothers out there with a child at home trying to work full time while managing a child or maybe several younger child. While it’s difficult to have kids stuck home there’s definitely those who have it harder.
It’s Difficult for all of us.
Try to focus on what you have. Health, Time, Financial Security or whatever you have. Use resources to help you with the areas you are struggling with. Remember this isn’t a vacation for anyone. It’s hard but even harder for others. We will get through this.
Take this opportunity to reassess your priorities. Do something you have always wanted to do. Get 8 hours of sleep. Drink enough water every day. Exercise Daily. spend time with your family. RELAX. Watch TV all Day. Get outside. Whatever makes you happy. Whatever helps you get through this. Just know you are not alone.
You can read all about our first day in lock down here.