I want to start this blog post off with the most important info of all – a disclaimer – that I am not a doctor, a medical professional, or anyone who holds any higher education in counseling folks on what is best for their health. I always strongly advocate that you fact check anything you read on the internet, and talk to your doctor before taking anything that may impact your health. Do not stop taking prescribed pharmaceutical medication unless under the direct supervision of a medical professional, and do not begin taking any new supplements unless you have ensured with your medical professional that it is safe. This blog post is to offer my anecdotal experience with trialing CBD for sleep and mood support and should not be taken as medical advice. Long story short – be smart. This is *my* research – and I am not a doctor.
I heard an analogy recently that essentially equated a mother’s (or primary caregiver’s) work/life balance as juggling 55 balls at any given time. Between house stuff and kid stuff and life stuff and woman stuff and work stuff – sometimes it feels like you have WAY too much stuff on your plate (and you probably do).
The analogy suggested that some of those 55 balls are glass and you shouldn’t drop those balls – they will smash into a million pieces and cut you and cause a huge mess for you to clean up.
But, some of those 55 balls are plastic and can be dropped without repercussions. They simply bounce and roll across the room, not harming anything and ready to be picked up when you’re ready.
The trick is finding out for yourself which balls are plastic, and which ones are glass.
With preschools and public schools and daycares closed, parents have had to take on the role of educators. It is a weird space to be in and while I recognize the role we all have to play, I’ve gotta say – I’m not homeschooling, I’m love schooling. When the girls wake up, they crawl into my bed and put their heads on my chest – listening to my heart beat, we discuss blood flow. Arteries away, veins back again. Love puddle as we start our day lazy and in sync. We go downstairs to make breakfast. We talk about how blueberries have vitamin K, granola will give us energy, and greek yogurt has protein to keep our muscles strong. We talk and laugh and love. Time to get dressed. Choosing clothes and getting dressed offers independence, autonomy, creativity, and strengthens gross motor skills. Is it a stay in pyjamas because it’s still forking snowing day? Love. We love comfy & warm. Or is it a tshirt and shorts day because the sun is shining and we’re ready to run? Lots of discussion to be had. Jumping on the couch and making forts and playing playdoh and skipping rope mazes and diaper box cars at the drive in theatre and lego castles are the basis of Love Schooling. Bodies get moved, creativity abounds, fine motor skills get worked on. We swim in the bath & pretend we’re back in Hawaii playing with ancient sea turtles. Afternoons bring cartoons because Mama is Tired. Mama is Sad. Mama is anxious. Love School has quiet time and screen time because it helps mama recharge. Subtitles on because “look mama! Daniel Tiger said dad and the word below says d – a – d so that spells dad?!?” – words and letters come easier this way. Dinner offers more chances for me to make it right. Kraft dinner and hotdogs with cucumbers? It is what it is. We love that and this is Love School after all. Bellies get filled and the manner in which we do it changes day by day, but the constant is that mama is doing her best. More cuddle puddles at bed time while we read and laugh. We apologize for what went wrong in the day, and we discuss what new fun thing to tackle tomorrow. Kisses & hugs, funny voices with the bedtime stories. Little one wants to snuggle in the dark, big one takes 10 books and a flashlight to bed. I say yes to both. I never went to university to become a teacher. I wasn’t prepared for this. But the way someone made you feel will be remembered longer than the things you did. And I don’t want the girls to look back and remember self-isolation during covid-19 or how we had to talk about the germs so often – I want them to remember Love School. The times I said yes instead of no. The extra cartoons. The treats. The little bit too late bedtimes because we were having tickle fights. Perfectly imperfect.
School should reopen this fall but what that looks like remains to be seen. My oldest is slated to start kindergarten, and there are talks of medical masks for 5 year olds, with hand sanitizer breaks, and 6 foot distances between teachers and classmates. I feel like the ramifications of these measures, while entirely intended to keep kids physically safe, may inflict undue trauma instead. In my province, kindergarten isn’t mandatory. Depending on what our district’s school re-opening strategy is, we may opt to keep her home for her kindergarten year.
Because of the uncertainty that lies ahead, I am slowly planning for what a year of Love Schooling at home might look like and how to best support both my daughters with their gross motor, fine motor, educational, social, and emotional needs. I am slowly but surely building a well rounded “unschooling” space within our budget and on our own terms – stay tuned for that blog post coming soon as I showcase what I have put together for them to support them going forward should public school not offer what they need.
Like most others, the swiftness with which covid-19 spread through the world and morphed our realities into something out of a science fiction novel was really unsettling. Normal as we know it no longer exists, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. I have shared bits and pieces of my thoughts and feelings over onInstagram, but after countless requests to share more in-depth, I am detailing it in entirety here today. I want to make it very clear though – this blog post is NOT meant to incite fear or anxiety, it is just how I am processing my own feelings, my own anxiety, and how I am intending on preparing my family.
Much like every financial advisor ever suggests you have 3 months of savings to cover all household expenses in case of emergency, the same should be said for household supplies. Even outside of covid-19, any number of things can happen to impact our ability to finance the day to day supplies we rely on. Be it covid-19, job loss, layoffs, other sickness or infirmary, house fire, etc – I think it’s smart to be prepared for a rainy day.
From the beginning, elected officials and medical health authorities made it clear that the self isolation and social distancing and shelter in place orders they were enacting were NOT going to eradicate the virus – it was being done to flatten the curve and lessen the load on our already taxed medical system and hospitals. There was going to be no way to eliminate covid-19 from our society now that it was here and BEST case scenario was that we slow the spread and minimize the damage while scientists race towards an effective treatment or vaccine.
Now we’re 2 full months into the pandemic (here in Canada) and restrictions are slowly easing.
Most people are taking deep breaths and feeling like we’ve weathered the storm.
*I* believe we have only just experienced the first wave. Most skeptics point to the Spanish Flu, and how the second wave killed exponentially more than the first outbreak did, and while I am not at that level of doomsday in my own beliefs, I think it would be negligent to not physically and emotionally prepare to go back to self isolation day 1. My husband works outside of the home, and I am routinely solo parenting my daughters for up to 2 weeks at a time. My usual childcare help is all aged 60+. If we see a resurgence, I need to ensure I have the supplies we need at home for a full 2 week stay (and beyond). Here is how I am preparing for the Fall:
(*Note – your family’s needs and budget may differ from mine, simply adjust as you see fit – and let it be explicitly known that under no circumstances do I suggest panic buying or overt stockpiling which will negatively impact our supply chains – a few things purchased here and there as your budget allows will suffice. My intention in posting this now is to share my own planning strategy and offer ample time if you choose to prepare as well)
Pantry essentials – I am aiming to have an extra few week supplies of OUR family’s essentials. This will look different for you. I will store mine in my regular pantry and for items I deplete during regular day to day cooking, I will replace and rotate – ensuring my stores always stay fresh.
Baking supplies – being self-isolated in the fall/winter will have an impact on how I approach holiday baking, which is an extremely important tradition I hold onto. It is one safe holiday tradition I will be able to engage in if we need to self-isolate again. If I can’t get to a grocery store or stock is gone when I get there – I won’t be able to bake. To prevent this, I am aiming to have a good supply of flour, white/brown sugar, chocolate chips, butter/margarine (this freezes for up to a year, wonderfully), rolled oats, baking soda/powder, and shredded coconut on hand.
Bulk pasta, canned beans, canned soup, canned corn/beans, canned fruit
Apple juice and Gatorade (the latter works much better than Pedialyte if kids fall ill)
Nuts and seeds (shelf stable protein source)
Pet food and supplies, if applicable
Cleaning supplies – no need to go crazy, but making sure you have an extra jug or two of bleach on hand to disinfect surfaces is smart. Laundry soap, vinegar, paper towels, dish soap, garbage bags, toilet paper, etc. Dishwasher pods are a necessity in my life, so I will make sure I have an extra box of those.
Personal hygiene – hand soap, kleenex, feminine hygiene supplies, diapers and baby wipes, eczema cream, etc.
Medications – this is a huge area of anxiety for most people but please know pharmacies will NOT close, so if you take prescription medications, rest assured your access to them is unlikely to be disrupted. Insurance companies will not let you stockpile either. What you can prepare for is ensuring you have fever relieving medication (Acetaminophen) for both you and your children, a good thermometer, and any other over-the-counter medications you take regularly. What *I* am preparing for my family is making sure I have an extra month’s supply of probiotics, multivitamins, vitamin D, and omega 3’s.
I typically try to keep an extra of our usuals on hand anyways, but this list is a bit more comprehensive going into the Fall. Your list might look different! I know many people are big into bread making right now, you might want to look at having extra yeast in your pantry if this applies to you. If you’re a local maker or baker, perhaps you’ll look at supplies who may need on hand if mail slows to a halt as Christmas buying ramps up.
My anxiety manifests in a way that needs an actionable solution to move forward. These are the steps I am taking to help set myself up for what we may see if/when round 2 of covid-19 returns.
We don’t have a home phone. Not many people do, these days. But I have been thinking about what we would do if something happened to me and I became incapacitated while I was alone with the girls. Would they know how to get help? So, I thought it was time we had a good discussion about 911. About the instances we may need to call. About how to unlock mommy’s phone and call 911. About how to Facetime daddy and grandma on their iPads if they need a grown-up and mommy is sick. I give them the run down and begin quizzing them. “Okay, what if mommy is sleeping and you can’t wake me up?”, I asked them. “Call 911 for the emergency helpers”, my 5yo proudly says. “Good work”, I tell her. “Now what if I fall and I have a majorly big owie but I can still talk?” “Call Daddy and Grams on my iPad and bring you your phone!”, my 5yo states. My youngest nods along with this decision. “Smart choice, girls”, I tell them. “Last one. What if mommy falls down the stairs and isn’t talking?” “GO TO THE PANTRY AND EAT SNACKS!!!”, my toddler happily yells. Cool. Happy Sunday. 🔴 This Bento: Yumbox Original in Blue Fish
I was reading the girls a bedtime story tonight (naturally one that had 8650 pages) and I accidentally and with malicious intent skipped a few pages in the middle. After reading for another minute or two, my 5yo says “mommy you missed some pages!”. I told her that I hadn’t (rookie move). She insisted I had. I said “how do you know? You can’t even read!” – and she looks at me deadass in the eyes and says “well obviously neither can you because this story makes no sense”. Shots fired. I am not okay. I am raising a tiny version of myself and I need help. 🔴 This Bento: Yumbox Original in Blue Fish
It’s a little overwhelming, isn’t it? The holiday season? It feels (at least to me) like consumerism has taken on a life of its own these days and threatens to topple anyone who isn’t steadfast in their resolve to not give in to Keeping Up With The Jones’. I’m over here just trying to keep it simple with my kids so every Christmas season we do a book advent for them.
48 books about Christmas, the holiday season, giving, love, charity, generosity, and family. Lovingly hand-wrapped for our little ladies, one each, for every day of Advent. We hope to encourage their love of stories and reading – and to show them that sitting with loved ones (or themselves) and reading a great book is maybe what it’s all about. To foster the excitement of waking up and seeing what story the day has for them – which really, is a decent metaphor for life itself. I’m always excited to see the look on their faces when they get to open a new (to them) book every day – stories collected from family and friends, thrift shops, and a few new special picks.
Money saving tip: check your local Free Little Libraries for holiday books, ask on local Facebook groups, and check Value Village (since they always offer buy 4 kids books get 1 free – and they’re only $2-$3 each). I switch a few out every year to keep up with their interests and ages – for example, I swapped out most of the baby board books this year, and added some Paw Patrol and Wild Kratts to appeal to the girls’ current interests.
Mom Hack: After Christmas, pack up the advent books and stash them away for next season. The kids won’t remember them next year, and they stay in great condition because they’re only enjoyed in December. Better yet, trade advent books amongst friends with similar traditions – get a bunch of new (to your family) books for free!
Chocolates get eaten and tiny toys get lost, but the memories we hope to create with our girls of laying together and laughing and snuggling into stories will last a lifetime. It’s not always perfect but it’s perfect for us. And that’s all I can hope for.
“Words, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” J.K. Rowling
On a scale of coma to Tom Cruise Couch Yelling, how awake are you when your daughter climbs into bed with you at 1:45am, wiggles her little spoon into your big spoon, gently starts stroking your cheek, and then quietly asks you, “Mommy, when our house burns down, can we buy a farm?”
Answer: Sonic the Hedgehog on speed, awake.
This Bento: Little Lunch Box Co Bento 5
carrots & cucumbers
peanut butter and blackberry sandwich (mom hack: if you’re watching your sugar intake, use fresh blueberries/blackberries/raspberries/strawberries in place of jam in sandwiches – the bit of sugar already in PB and other nut/seed butters softens the tart berries and tastes just as delicious).
apples & plums
hummus with Everything But The Bagel seasoning from Trader Joes
Before I had kids, I had CAPITAL O opinions about screen time for children. Mine weren’t gonna have any. Big Bad TV ™️ wasn’t gonna rot my kids’ brains. Cute right?
Fast forward to now. Dora taught my 2.5 year old to count to 10 in Spanish and my 4.5 year old casually tells me last night while getting ready for bed that “Mama, your hair & nails are made keratin and to keep them strong you gotta eat lots of broccoli and protein, that’s why I love broccoli” (at first she told me she learned this at school but I found out it is actually from Wild Kratts). So now the Kratt Brothers are my nanny and I ain’t even mad about it.
This Bento: Yumbox Original in Blue Fish
2 cranberry pistachio figgy pops by Made In Nature
Don’t you even, for one single solitary second, come on my page to check my lunch inspiration, and feel bad about yourself. Don’t do it.
Nothing separates us. I am NOT a better parent because I cut fruit into shapes and arrange it in a bento box. You are NOT a bad parent if all your budget allows for is bologna sandwiches in a ziploc bag, or your kid refuses to eat anything except for pepperoni sticks. At the end of the day, every single one us is just trying to do our best to raise KIND womb trophies. That’s it. Here’s a helpful list:
What makes someone a good parent?
Offering your child food in regular intervals (if they actually eat it is another story but really, not your forking problem)
Worrying about being a good parent
Loving your child
What makes someone a bad parent?
Not feeding your child(ren)
Not loving your child at least sometimes
Like anyone, I have good days and not-as-good days. I have organic rainbow pasta with expensive cheese and fresh vegetable days and “leftover A&W chicken strips & packaged snacks” sorta days. I yell at my kids. I have to apologize to my kids. I get frustrated and often feel like I’m one forking tantrum away from an atomic meltdown. I send my kids to bed when I’m angry and then tip-toe back in with tears in my eyes to kiss them 500x. I know you do the same.
So if you have a wicked Internet worthy lunch today, huge fist bump to you. If you only managed the bare minimum, I hear lemon lollipops can ward off scurvy and also great work putting in the effort you’re able to. I love you all.