What Nearly Two Weeks of Social Distancing Has Taught Me
After just under two weeks of being at home due to the “social distancing” regulations, I have come to several conclusions. It seems appropriate to write them down since I want to remember them when the world returns, although I’m confident that the world we return to will be a different one than we left.
I love my job, and I miss my students every day. I even miss the stinkers, maybe I miss them even more because I wonder how they are coping with all the stressors they are facing. I know that for some kids, school is a refuge and a home. They help give me a sense of purpose. So next time I have a challenging day of teaching, I need to remind myself how it feels not being able to see my school kiddos.
I am not ready to retire. There are times when I daydream about the day I can retire, imagining in these fantasies that I don’t actually physically age. But these few weeks off remind me that it’s just not my time right now. While I enjoy free time, I am not yet prepared to have every day to myself. A snow day here and there is enough for me.
I have taken my freedom for granted. Before this, I had never given thought to the extent to which I enjoy being able to do what I want, go where I want, whenever I want. Having the flexibility to travel where I want has always been a given. I mean, I want to go to the tanner, get a haircut, and go stay at a hotel for spring break, but these are luxuries now that I am not permitted to have. And now that I have been told that I simply don’t have a choice, I feel like a child who doesn’t want to listen to her parents. I want to have the liberty to make my life choices without force. So, after this experience, I hope to be more appreciative of the many choices and freedoms that I have been offered.
My family uses more toilet paper than I realized. Okay, so when this all began, I counted the total rolls of toilet paper we had. I felt completely certain that we had plenty to last for several weeks. I even assured my mom that I wasn’t concerned at all about our toilet paper situation. Well, I may have miscalculated our toilet paper consumption. I mean, we are usually at school all day, so we use their supply. When we’re all at home, it is a totally different situation. I joked with the kids today that we might have to implement a five square limit in the bathroom soon.
The definition of “essential” is vague. So, is going to the store to buy a hula hoop for a fitness workout video “essential?” I decided it probably wasn’t and ended up borrowing one. But it can be difficult in the moment to discern between what is necessary and what isn’t. I mean, fast food continues to be a necessity, and these workers are handling our food. I’m not complaining by any means. Fast food is convenient for sure and we’ve taken advantage of it, but it still makes me wonder. And being dubbed a “non-essential” worker as a teacher is honestly a little humbling. I like to think that I am a vital part of the workforce. This pandemic, however, has made me much more aware of how much we all rely on each other, and I greatly appreciate every worker and position, from the drive-thru servers and people sanitizing carts at the grocery to the nurses and doctors who are tirelessly working to save others. Sometimes it takes a crisis like this to realize how much we rely on one another.
There’s a reason that teachers and students have a summer vacation, not winter, fall, or spring. I am a little biased being a lover of the sun, beaches, and bikinis, but days off in Michigan in early spring are just not as enjoyable as the summer days I’m accustomed to. In the summer, the kids and I spend the day outside, going in to eat, and sometimes to relax in the cool air conditioning. But for the most part, we can enjoy the outdoors. And my kiddos don’t usually argue out there, unless there is a competitive game at stake. Inside, on the other hand, there’s a lot of bickering. There are also random “hugs” that turn into wrestling matches. Obviously in these cases we are struggling with the six feet rule! And I feel like I have to drag the boys away from the electronics. So, I am in total agreement with whoever decided that the summer season was the best time to enjoy a break.
While I have a master’s degree in education, I have no desire to home school my own children. I am in my fourteenth year of teaching, so you would think that having only three children to teach would be a breeze, but you are mistaken. I have three very different types of children living under my roof. I have one who does her work on her own with little to no complaints. Then I have a runner. When he sees that I am approaching to talk about schoolwork, he quickly finds a way to avoid the task. He makes excuses about suddenly needing to use the bathroom... or brush his teeth..or make his bed. He has fled into the basement before as a deterrent. I feel like I literally have to chase him with his work. The youngest child reverts to load moaning and even crying. It’s obnoxious. I ask him what other kids at school or his teacher would say if he acted like that at school, but he continues to loudly grumble about the workload. I’m pretty sure my boys would spend more time whining about their work than actually doing it.
I do a lot less laundry when we’re home. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve worn the same sweatpants and hoodie for the past five days at least...I have actually lost count. I mean, I get up late and leave my workout clothes on. By the time I shower it’s afternoon, and then I put pajamas on, so really only wear “real clothes,” if you can call them that, for a few hours each day. And my kids are worse, they haven’t been changing out of their pajamas even. We had to make a trip to see my parents the other day, and I tried to persuade them to put on regular pants, and you would have thought that I had told my youngest son he had to wear a suit and tie. The good news? We all have significantly less clothes to put in the laundry.
Being busy with activities is better than having no plans at all. I have often grumbled that with all of our after-school activities we don’t have any time. But the reality is that I enjoy having things to do. Kids are only young once, and I like watching them play sports and participate in the activities they love. Now that those things have been suspended and/or postponed, I realize how much I look forward to them. I love seeing them in their element. So, yeah, it’s time consuming, overwhelming, and tiring sometimes, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Social distancing rules and face touching guidelines are hard to follow. I am a people person. Telling me to stay away from other humans is hard. I like to hug my kids. I enjoy being close to people that I care about. And if my kids get sick, well, I can’t imagine quarantining them away from me anyway, so my motto is...their germs are my germs. I also touch my face way too much. I’m washing my hands all the time because I just can’t stop with the face touching. I mean, I never noticed before, but it’s a problem for sure. There has also been good news on this front. I have explained to my kids that showers and hand washing are now not only mandated by me, but also by the governor. What can they say to that?
People randomly cough and sneeze often. Every cough, sneeze, and throat clear now becomes suspicious. I feel like I’m trying to conceal my allergies. I would hate to be quarantined for a little cough or sneeze, so I’ve been practicing holding them in. Has anyone else experienced this? And my kids? They haven’t mastered the art of holding anything in, so I find myself sending them dirty looks for sneezing, coughing, and even throat clears. When we can someday all return to the real world, the last thing anyone is going to want is to have a potential threat near them, even if the threat is noncontagious, so mastering the art of holding these natural reflexes in is of key importance.
While I laugh hysterically at school memes, my family doesn’t always find them as amusing. So, our teacher group has been trying to stay positive by sharing funny teacher memes. I can’t help but laugh aloud at most of these, but when I share them with my family, they don’t seem to have a similar reaction. For example one read, “Day 4 of homeschooling Forget about the War of 1812. Today we are learning about the East Coast West Coast war of 1996.” I mean, I was really laughing about this. My kids, who weren’t even born in 1996, just rolled their eyes trying to comprehend what I found so hilarious.
The line “you are attracted to what you can’t have” clearly applies to me. Normally I despise grocery shopping, but when I can’t go anywhere, suddenly it sounds appealing. And then I find myself slowly becoming a hoarder of chocolate covered peanuts. They are my dessert of choice, but I find myself grabbing several bags at a time...just in case I can’t get to the store again. Some people feel the need to get bread, eggs, and toilet paper, while I grab chocolate. In an apocalyptic situation, I could live on cereal, milk, water, and chocolate, and that’s no joke. I’m just feeling fortunate they are not currently limiting the number of bags I can purchase at a time.
You can have hundreds of television channels and still have nothing to watch. I am not someone who typically watches much T.V., but with so much extra time, I figure it can’t hurt to watch a little more. But out of the literally hundreds of channels, there isn’t anything that I find appealing. And when my kids have control of the remote, the shows they watch are nothing like the quality television I remember as a kid. Like, where are shows like “The Wonder Years,” “Saved by the Bell,” and “Boy Meets World?” My kids clearly need to see some throwbacks as opposed to binge watching the shows they choose.
Sleep makes me a kinder human. So, I’m a night owl by nature, but in order to get my workout in before I leave for school, I have to also get up early. This means I rarely get the recommended amount of sleep each night. And I run on little sleep most of the week and sometimes get to sleep in or take a nap on Saturdays. So it’s no surprise that by the time I get home from work some days, I have little patience for my own family. But after several days of getting additional sleep, I can tell that little annoyances aren’t causing me much grief. I can laugh and smile more. And I think when we are all more rested, we treat each other better. So, I plan to bank as much sleep as possible now while I can.
These past few weeks have been so unexpected, and the uncharted territory can feel downright alarming. And while I dislike not having an idea of what the next few weeks will bring, I am a teacher, and lifelong learner, so whatever happens, I hope to apply it to future situations. I want to learn and grow so that I can improve and be more prepared for whatever life has in store for me around the next bend.
And as always, message me and let me know what you are learning through our current situation. I’d love to hear from you on IG @fitmodelmom or @fmm_the wolf. And don’t forget to check out my newly updated website www.fitmodelmom.com.