My Corona: Lessons from the kitchen table 

The four-year-old and the seven-year-old were arguing over the sole “Bluetiful” color in the Crayola box when the 17-year-old flopped her torso onto the table, folded her arms under her head, and simply started to cry. I felt like crying, too. 

Having been together in the house for three weeks, my toddler, my elementary student, and my high schooler have had enough of “Mom School”. I’ve had enough, too. We’re all feeling under-the-weather, all thoroughly tired of being stuck at home; and we could all use a good run at the beach or hike in the park. None of which we can do. 

We’ll be here, in this house, fighting over the sole “Bluetiful” crayon, for at least another month. My husband is working in our home office, his door blissfully closed against us while I attempt to run this business from the kitchen table where my teenager is weeping.

It certainly could be worse and we’re all counting our many blessings. We have plenty of food, we’re safe in our home, my husband is still employed. There’s toilet paper.

But even lucky ones like us are prone to overwhelm and exhaustion while we shelter in place per state order.

I have been turning to my Calm and Focus formulas during COVID-19, trying to stay in a receptive state for my little ones and to retain compassion for my older daughter. The main thing I’ve done to improve our lives is to turn off the news. At first, it seemed perverse, like turning our backs on reality. But there’s really nothing we need to know minute by minute when we’re already resigned to staying home. Keeping the younger girls away from social media isn’t a problem but my teenager and I have talked about it endlessly. I’m trying not to get lost in the phone myself, just mindlessly scrolling past news that’s upsetting or untrue, looking at endless loaves of lumpy homemade sourdough bread, and missing my friends, too.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), limiting news and social media are good ideas now. I’m trying to follow their recommendations for myself and my family. Some of the things we’re doing now include:

  • Creating a new schedule and doing our best to stick to it. We do school lessons first thing, when everyone’s mind is fresh, and schedule regular recess.
  • For recess, we go out in the neighborhood several times a day. The kids either ride their bikes or walk with me. Each short sprint of outdoor time does wonders for our moods — and that’s surely got to be healthful, too.
  • Stretching and gentle exercise. I find that moving and stretching, twisting and bending keep my muscles feeling nourished and my spine feeling limber. We’re doing so much sitting these days that this makes a big difference!
  • Eating well helps to maintain your immune system. With no temptations from restaurant meals, I can better control what my family eats. I try to keep the house stocked with fresh fruit and produce, and rely on my freezer more than I ever have in the past. 
  • Sleep is essential to maintaining good health and I find that the walks we take several times a day help me with that. Staying asleep, of course, is another matter. I take a couple of sprays of my Sleep formulation if I can’t shut my mind off at night. I don’t want to spend the wee hours worrying about the world!
  • The CDC wants us to avoid alcohol, which could really be negatively impactful right now. It depletes your system and robs your body of important hydration. 
  • I’m rediscovering the pleasures of talking on the phone, something I’ve done less of in recent years. Zoom and FaceTime have been life saviors for keeping up with my parents as well as friends for the kids.

Of course, the kids and I talk about the Coronavirus a lot

I want to assure them that their father and I are keeping them as safe as they can be kept. We have read countless books.  We’ve watched YouTube tutorials on creating homemade slime. We have made up five new 20-second songs as we wash our hands. Goodness knows we’re cooking.

This is an amazing and mostly terrible time. My children will never forget it but what I hope that what they remember the most is how we pulled together, made too many pans of brownies, and finally broke that darned “Bluetiful” crayon in two. Enough, the four-year-old announced with satisfaction, for both of us. Melissa Parker