Our family has been strictly social-isolating for three weeks now. During this time, I have read a lot of advice about how to survive, but I just wanted to go ahead and say—aim higher! Here are some simple tips that I have found not simply to survive, but to thrive during the quarantine:
- Get creative with food prep.
We have switched to getting groceries only with pickup during this time, which has the fun advantage of regularly discovering at the last minute that you will not be getting the grocery item you were counting on, or getting far less of it than you thought. Don’t let this get you down! Sure, as Catholics our families are often larger than most, and one small steak or a tiny package of ground beef may not feed the whole family easily. No hill for a stepper. When this happened to us the other day, my husband generously offered to light the grill and split the tiny steak with me. Figuring that the ground beef could stretch for tacos for the kids, I set to work in the kitchen. It’s a delightful challenge to prepare two separate family dinners. Women are natural multitaskers. It’s our gift, and this quarantine is the time to embrace it. The exciting goal of rushed, dual-dinner prep led to my decision to prepare our very limited stash of flour tortillas by wrapping them in a dish towel and warming them in the microwave. When the towel burst into flames, I simply dumped the perfectly warm tortillas onto a plate and doused the towel with water in the sink. Meanwhile, my two-year-old, who was watching the whole ordeal, belted out her favorite praise song, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain, that I can’t control . . .” Two meals and a spontaneous praise session on one week night? Nailed it! Thanks, coronavirus.
- Make time for a nice, warm bath.
This one’s not just for the kids. I have taken one nice warm bath in these three weeks, and it was well worth the effort. So relaxing! Of course, I did decide that the fact that I had run completely out of facial exfoliator merited me trying my pumice stone on my face. Now’s the time to get creative with self-care (that’s a free bonus tip, ladies). The resulting brush burns will be unnoticeable by the time I am seen in public again in a few months, I’m sure! This also serves as a good penance any time you have to apply sunblock for playing outside with your kids.
- Find an exercise buddy.
I am so blessed to be able to walk or jog down our road almost daily with my good friend, Teresa. The key here is to maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet at all times. This is simple and doable, except when the warm weather drives large snakes out onto the blacktop in front of you. At those moments, sprint toward your baffled exercise buddy shouting, “Is it dead?” Ignoring her cries of “Is what dead?” you can launch yourself at her as she backs away to maintain social distance and almost falls into a ditch. These hilarious moments, of course, would not occur without the challenges imposed by social distancing guidelines combined with exercise. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Even jog, snake dodge, and social distance simultaneously. It’s called thriving, mamas.
- Take the opportunity to improve your outside play area for your kids.
We are blessed to have a large yard, but our swing set is on the fritz. Solution? Order a lovely, large swing set for your children to play on during this intensive family time. It is important during the purchasing process of this playset to ignore your husband’s questions of, “Isn’t that kind of big and complicated?” And, “Who is going to help me to assemble it?” Assure him that your small children will not create any problems during the assembly, and that you are more than help enough. After all, his days have become a dull monotony of working from your bedroom while children run past him to leave the water running in the bathroom all day long and squabble over whose fault it is. Assembling the swing set will provide him with a welcome distraction, and you will have so many opportunities for growth in holiness as you pray simultaneous prayers of intercession, pleading that parts will match up, and that all of the bolts will actually be included. This will also allow you to witness to your children the euphoria of cooperative and constructive work. One day, far, far in the future, you may also have a swing set for them to play on.
- Pray every day.
Seriously, this is my life line. Whether it’s thirty minutes of uninterrupted prayer early in the morning before the kids get up (rare), or a few stolen minutes here and there, take time to check in with Jesus every day and let him love you. Snack or feast on the Word of God, depending on the time you have. Surviving the quarantine is tough. Thriving is even tougher. Thankfully, the steadfast love of the Lord is renewed every morning! We got this, mamas.