Recently, I read a Washington Post article tracking a day in the life of a D.C. family with two working parents and two young kids, as they try to navigate this quarantine. I almost didn’t finish the article, because it felt so familiar – but at the same time, it was a little bit comforting to see others in the same boat. We are all dealing with this situation in different ways, and each facing unique challenges, and it occurred to me that it’s been awhile since I did a day in the life post on here. While I am not sure I’m really going to want to remember all of these details… here they are.
5:55 a.m. I wake up to the sound of the kids’ voices playing either in Nugget’s room or downstairs. Their “okay to wake” lights flash on at 6:00 a.m., which means they’ve ignored them. Again. I’m told these “okay to wake” lights are supposed to be miraculous for keeping kids in bed until they should be up? Mine couldn’t care less.
6:15 a.m. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I decide to forego any additional attempts at sleeping in favor of getting up before the kids’ play turns into squabbling and then fighting, so I get up and go looking for them. They’re in Nugget’s room. Peanut is chilling in a pile of his “lovies” and he’s jumping on his pillow. Good morning. We have another talk about respecting the “okay to wake” lights and then go downstairs to eat breakfast. I start mixing up morning chocolate milks and taking breakfast orders while the kids dismantle the couch. EVERY DAY.
6:50 a.m. I’ve spent the past half hour running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room, bringing the kids their breakfasts as they watch TV and complain about what I’ve given them to eat. (Stonyfield Kids organic yogurt, yuck-o.) While they grouchily eat, I clean up the kitchen counter. I like to work at a makeshift standing desk, but it tends to get heaped up with the daily detritus. That’s definitely the case today, so I quickly put some things away, then start working on a memo that I really need to get out this morning. Steve sits down at his laptop and starts work for the day, and I pound away at my keyboard while listening to the kids.
8:40 a.m. I’m still working on my memo, but it’s almost time to take the kids out for the morning walk. Steve and I are working in shifts during this quarantine, and I have the kids in the morning while he focuses on work, then we swap. I still try to stay connected and check in when I can in the mornings, though.
8:55 a.m. The TV is off, and the kids and I both head upstairs and get dressed to go out for a stroll.
9:05 a.m. And we’re out the door, only five minutes past my goal time! This is pretty good for us. (By contrast, the following day we did not get out the door until 9:35 – more than half an hour past the goal time – and only then after a lot of yelling by everyone.) Nugget asks to walk to the waterfront, but that’s a pretty long stroll for their short legs and we have plans at 10:00 that we have to be home for, so we head for the bike path instead. We walk to the end of the bike path segment nearest our house, then turn around and head back, with a few long breaks to explore the green space and check out some trees. On our walk we discuss birds’ nesting habits, and how electricity works.
10:00 a.m. Back from our walk, right on schedule. I get Peanut set up with her math workbook and Nugget takes his phonics workbook up to his room. Our 10:00 plans are a FaceTime play date with his buddy, D, from school. So while Nugget settles in, I call D’s mom over FaceTime.
We catch up for a few minutes about work – we’re both lawyers, upstate New Yorkers, and Cornell grads, so we have a lot in common and love to chat with each other. After a minute or two, I turn the phone over to Nugget, and D’s mom hands her phone to him, and the boys start a marathon FaceTime session in which I think they mostly talk over each other and brag about their toys.
Once the boys are set up and chattering away, I head back to the kitchen, where I divide my attention and my time between the memo I’m working on and Peanut’s math workbook. I help her figure out the equations, then launch her on some word-focused activities (language arts workbook pages, followed by reading time) and keep working on my memo.
11:00 a.m. I’ve been back down in the kitchen while Nugget is on my phone. Peanut finished up her math, did some phonics exercises in her BrainQuest workbook, and read a few chapters in her current book (The Mystery of Mr. E, from the American Girl WellieWishers series). She’s been complaining about being tired – no surprise, since I have no idea how early she got up and started playing; I jokingly offer her some coffee – so after she finishes her work she drifts off to lay down.
Meanwhile, Nugget is still on FaceTime with his pal. He wants to watch his favorite show – Octonauts – but he doesn’t want to hang up, either. So he suggests that D can watch Octonauts at the same time. I don’t think Nugget has ever heard of a “watch party,” so this is just something he thought up on his own. I’m duly impressed, and D’s mom and I fire up the same episode (The Octonauts and the Cookie Cutter Sharks) and press “play” at the same time. Nugget settles in on the couch, which still has no cushions. I don’t see how this can be comfortable, but I guess it is?
11:50 a.m. Nugget has been on FaceTime for almost two hours. I’m cutting him off! We hang up with D and turn off the TV while Dad makes lunch for the kids. I realize that I forgot to eat breakfast. Whoops.
12:00 p.m. I finally got my memo out. I was hoping to send it before the kids and I left for our morning walk, but that didn’t happen. But it’s gone now! It’s been a hectic morning of juggling the kids and work, and I need to blow off some steam. Steve is taking over with the munchkins, so I hurry upstairs, throw on some running gear, and head out to hit the trail. Now that it’s finally starting to warm up for the season, running at the hottest part of the day isn’t ideal. But I’m squeezing it in when I can. I head for the bike path and bang out a few miles. The buff makes me feel like I’m being strangled, but I’m being a good citizen and wearing it anyway, pulling it up over my nose and mouth whenever I am near other runners, walkers or cyclists. The bike path isn’t exactly crowded, but it’s definitely not deserted either.
12:39 p.m. Back from my run, and back on the computer. I have a long to-do list for the afternoon, with a few calls sprinkled between a bunch of tasks that I absolutely have to get through. Steve runs interference for me (taking both kids for walks and facilitating more reading time for Peanut), as I did for him in the morning, and the kids mostly leave me alone. I buckle down and power through most of my to-do list. Nugget brings me Bear to say hello. Peanut copies poems out of a few of her books and reads them to me, falsely claiming to have written them herself. I gently suggest that we try writing a poem ourselves, but she’s content with plagiarism for now.
4:42 p.m. Still working on my computer. Peanut and Nugget wander into the kitchen. Peanut asks for coffee (what??? – turns out she thought I was serious this morning when I offered to make her some) and Nugget tells me that Dad is napping in his room. This seems far-fetched to me. Steve is a napper, but this would be late for him.
4:50 p.m. Steve comes downstairs. It turns out he wasn’t napping; I knew it. I quickly start dinner – putting a pot of red quinoa on to simmer – then get back to work and finish up a few more things before we start eating. A colleague called while my phone was charging in the other room (Nugget burned through a lot of battery life during his marathon FaceTime play date and Octonauts watch party) so I return the call while fluffing up and seasoning the quinoa.
5:40 p.m. Dinner is ready, yay! I haven’t eaten a real meal all day, just grazed a little bit between calls, so I am hungry. We’re having red quinoa, leftover tofu with taco seasoning, and steamed broccoli.
6:10 p.m. Dinner went fast – I guess we were all hungry. I clean up the kitchen, which is fast and easy tonight because Steve emptied the dishwasher and put the breakfast and lunch dishes away this afternoon – so all I have to do is load up the dinner dishes, press a few buttons, and then spritz and wipe the counters and table. Keeping the kitchen clean has been a bit of a challenge – Steve and I both need to be on top of it – but it is such an important thing for my peace of mind to have a clean (or at least clean-ish) kitchen.
6:22 p.m. Steve is upstairs helping the kids get into their jammies and brush their teeth before we watch a show as a family. I should help, but – to quote Phoebe Buffay – “I wish I could, but I don’t want to.” So I hide in the kitchen sending more work emails and looking for things to clean while I wait for them. Eventually they come downstairs and we watch an episode of Rock the Park. Nugget is a big non-fiction guy (books and TV) and he loves nature, so this show is his jam. (It’s mine and Steve’s, too. Peanut mostly just tolerates it.)
7:15 p.m. We’re done with our episode of Rock the Park. Peanut collects her good-night kisses, then heads to her room to read for awhile. Nugget and I go upstairs and read his Lonely Planet Kids: USA’s National Parks book.
He wants to goof off and be silly, so I wander off downstairs. Upstairs, I can hear him jumping on his bed and constructing an “Octopod” out of Legos. He seems content enough, so I hide in the dining room and work on my 1,000-piece puzzle (almost done!). Nugget summons me upstairs three times, just so he can tell me to “GO AWAY” each time. Love you, too, buddy.
8:25 p.m. Nugget asks me to come upstairs and sit in his chair while he plays. I grab my book – Merry Hall, by Beverly Nichols – and follow him. As soon as I sit down, he crawls into my lap with Good Night, New York State. I read it, then he buries his face in my shoulder and passes out. I used to rock him to sleep every night, but it’s been a few months since he sacked out in my arms like that. I love it.
9:00 p.m. I’ve been rocking and cuddling Nugget for more than half an hour and loving every second of it, but it’s time – so I reluctantly carry him to his bed, tuck him in, and tiptoe downstairs. Steve is already on the couch playing a video game, so I open my book. I have a hard time concentrating – it’s been a long day, and tomorrow is going to be another long day – and my attention flits back and forth between my book and my phone. I scan Facebook and Instagram a little bit, get distracted by a Financial Times article about the federal government’s bungling of the COVID-19 crisis, go back to my book and eventually wander upstairs to read in bed.
10:13 p.m. I really wanted to finish this chapter, but I can’t keep my eyes open. Lights out. Another quarantine day in the books, another one just like it coming tomorrow.
These days are long, and they tend to run together. We are definitely finding moments of fun and connection – and making them when we can – but there’s a lot of frustration, too. I like to be present for whatever I am doing in the moment, and it’s hard to toggle my attention between work and the kids so much. But it’s not possible to keep them separated right now, so I’m just doing the best I can.
How are you weathering these long quarantine days?