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Pandemic thoughts: Life with toddlers

Wow. I know everyone is saying this, but it truly does feel like we're living in a surreal time. One night we went to bed and were able to go to all the "non-essential stores" that we wanted, with no masks, no gloves, and no anxiety going in and out of the store. Now, our reality is filled with shortages of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and to my dismay flour.

We're now faced with making the choices who can be considered within our "inner family circle" and those that are "outside" and now must be at least six feet away. We have to make the decision to show up for our children in multiple capacities everyday all day, all while trying to face the day with a new known reality.

Sometimes it all feels too much. Sometimes I just have to stop and let the anxiety wash over me and I really don't know what to do next. What role am I right now? Mama,1 teacher, wife, employee, friend, aunt, or dare I say just "Jenna." It's times like this that I stop and go back to a tool that I have used for years at times of uncertainty and that's saying my favorite scripture:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

- Proverbs 3: 5-6

I stop long enough to calm my heart and my mind and release any control I think I have, because honestly it's time like this that we're brought to our knees and realize how much control is truly a façade. I can't control how quickly the "curve is going to flatten," I can't control what mood my two year old is going to be in, I can't control the health of the economy, the weather outside, or if there's toilet paper at the store. The only thing I can control is how I react to it.

Everyday has been a rollercoaster ride. Our current state is we have two boys (5 and 2) who are home full-time for the first time ever in their lives, two adults, one working full-time, one working part-time, and a fur baby who doesn't understand why so many people are outside now and that these pesky kids never go to school....she barks...a lot.

Everyday we're going through the motions and everyday is a little different depending on work schedules and now our preschoolers Zoom meetings. At the beginning of this "pandemic" it almost felt like a much needed reset, a fun time at home with both parents and both kiddos that we never would have had. Believe me, I am grateful for this extra time, but now I'm yearning for routine and schedule. I never thought I would miss doing two drop-offs at preschool, but I yearn to know that every Monday when we show up Alice will be there to greet us, Mr. Williams on Wednesdays, and Diane on Thursdays.

I know that I do have some "control" of our schedule, but again that's a bit elusive with a toddler and a five-year-old especially, because there world has been turned upside down and it's hard to explain it to them. So for now, I'm going to try and embrace some of the "crazy" and know that someday in the future, we'll start a lot of stories with, "remember when we went through that pandemic."

I wanted to share a couple of more things tonight. A few ways that I'm finding peace and self-care during this season:

1. Spend time with God. Go to Him with your fears and your wants. He hears you and wants to be with you during this season. Invite Him in.

2. Take time to move your body, everyday if you can. Even 20 minutes of movement can make such a difference.

3. Fuel your body with healthy food. Lots of fruits and vegetables. I know I have wanted to find comfort in candy, pop, and cookies, but all it does is make me feel more tired and sluggish.

4. Drink up. Try to consume at least half of your weight in ounces of water a day. Easy math - you weigh 100 pounds, you drink 50 ounces.

5. Find some time to be alone - and fill your cup back up. Read, take a bath, journal, watch some Netflix, whatever helps you relax.

6. Make an effort to "talk" to someone outside your house everyday! When you can use technology to talk face to face that's even better. I've been really liking this app, Marco Polo - give it a whirl.

7. GET OUTSIDE! It's so good for you and your kids.

8. Practice gratitude. Everyday find something to be grateful for. There's always something.

9. Rest. Sometimes we need a nap and that's OK. Listen to your body.

10. Finally, let go. Try to enjoy this season for what it is. I keep telling myself this over and over again.

The second thing I wanted to leave you with was joy and ignorance of these two boys faces. They honestly think we're just on a long vacation and absolutely love it. Their bond, their laughter, their chatter are heartwarming...and exhausting.

Well, friends. More thoughts are going to be coming! More news to share, but until then. Stay well and healthy.

Blessings to you and your family,

- J

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