I should begin with, HELLO! 😁 It's been forever since I wrote and published. I am going to predict this quarantine will do that for many people around the world!
Fair warning: this blog post has nothing to do with Nutrition and everything to do with Real Life, right now.
I am not totally quarantined like so many others. At this point, I am going into work at the hospital 3 days a week as a Clinical Dietitian. Yup, it's okay, we are all okay. I welcome you all to pray for me and my family to stay healthy. I take all precautions possible to protect myself, my family and my community. Rest assure, Healthcare workers are trained to do this work. But it does mean that currently, I have cut ties with anyone that does not live in our house. *Suddenly, healthcare workers feel the need to add those previous notes every time we talk about work...🤷♀️* So, for 4 out of 7 days a week, I am hunkered down at home like most others. My hubby is also considered essential personnel in his position but, rarely interacts with others so, he is working his usual hours at this time.
Our kids are home though and there are ZERO activities scheduled in our lives for a few weeks. That part is very weird. Even in the summer, we have our calendars jammed with plans. I thought I would have all this “extra” time, but I don’t seem to.
The reality is, I am not using my time wisely. I have a list a mile long of stuff I could do. There are suggestions all over social media, TV, email, from my kids’ teachers and from friends about all the things we could be doing to pass this time. Everyone seems to think we are all suddenly wandering around our homes totally bored.
I am not. Even on my four days a week at home.
I feel more like I am standing in the cereal aisle. At least, the cereal isle of a large, modern-day, grocery store as it looked just 1 month ago.
There are so many choices. I find that I just stop and stare for what seems like forever. I start to compare the size of the boxes, the brands, the ingredients. I eliminate several “never-would-I -ever” choices and take some time to check out the “New” products available. Then I usually start scanning for which ones are on sale and then look at any cereals for which I have seen a coupon. Finally, after all this analysis, I realize I have been pondering over this decision for way too long and hastily grab our usual box.
I wake up naturally without any alarms on my days at home. I walk around my house and sort of start my day lazily, like it's a Saturday. I look around at all that I could and want to do during this "at home time" without a real plan. Next thing I know, it's time for dinner and I haven't done a thing worth mentioning or even thought about what to feed anyone tonight. 😲
I can’t even begin to list the stuff I could and should be doing during this time. It’s almost embarrassing. I have corners to organize, an attic to clear out, clothes to sort through for donation, entire rooms to redecorate, our huge yard to work on, gardens to plant, emails to clean up, blogs to write, customers to connect with and not to mention the normal household chores to complete. Most of all, I have kids to play with and to teach stuff. And I can’t forget hubby too!
As I reflect on our first 2 weeks of this quarantine, I realize that I started a few things here and there but, I am certainly not bored or anywhere near running out of things I could do. If I’m being honest, I spent quit a bit of this time finding a place to hide from my family. I have been trying for years to create a quiet space to be able to work from home. Now that I have established my spot and it’s usable (albeit, it is not exactly my “dream” work-space or anything) here I am again, standing in the cereal aisle...Just Staring...
What do I do now?
I decided I needed to start writing – basically, what you are now reading – to get myself together. To somehow begin to organize and prioritize. I want to take all this advice that I have given out to others and received and run it through a huge processor. A blog post. I’m just going to put it out there so, maybe some of you can relate?
I’m extroverted. That’s random information, right? It's relevant.
I have ADHD. This is also relevant.
Thoughts in my brain look like a bowl of spaghetti – constantly.
Now, suddenly we all have a clear calendar and no plans "until further notice."
None of this sounds good to me. I need a list.
With a clear calendar and no list of stuff, I will undoubtedly fail. No, not fail - because, nothing is really expected of me. I think a better term would be - miss out. Miss this opportunity. The chance to feel accomplished. There is a drive we all have somewhere inside ourselves to DO something meaningful with our time and especially during all this unprecedented “free time.”
I will take some time to fill up my calendar, make my daily “to-do” lists and try not to just stare at all the choices.
Being extroverted is tough. I feel better around more people. I gain more energy from the energy of others. I like crowds. I thank God for my kids. They have a ton of energy but, let’s be honest, it’s different. Connecting – from 6 feet away or through virtual means – must be on my list each day.
Having ADHD doesn’t help either. I mentioned earlier, I have started many tasks. I might not even finish this blog…. It’s easy for me to get distracted, bored and totally side-tracked. It really puts a damper on my ability to feel accomplished. Checking off a list helps!
If I dig deep, I will remind myself to meditate. I will remember to stop and just breathe. I will give myself a pep-talk and recall something that I did do today and each day, even if it is small. It is important to my mental health.
So, there it is. It’s not much. It’s simple.
If you feel the way I feel - somehow, still very busy while under quarantine but, have yet to feel accomplished in anything - the following is what I realize I must do:
1. Keep a journal. Throw all your thoughts into a processor and take them for a spin. Good things will come from it. Over the years, I have often kept journals but, there are occasionally long gaps in time. The minute I return to it, I immediately realize how much I benefit from this outlet.
2. Fill in a calendar. Schedule virtual meetings with friends and family. Execute a daily family meeting to share your plan for the day and assign chores, school-work time and tasks. I’m making any promises but, perhaps the kids won’t be whining, “what do we do now?” or constantly interrupting your current project (this does not ever go away – it may only reduce by 15-20%). Plan valuable alone time to recharge, plan ahead, take a bath, read a book, meditate or just lock yourself away in peace for a time. This is especially for all you introverts out there but, extroverts need a little bit too!
3. Make a daily list. Create, post and check off your list each day. Be proud of each check mark. You will feel accomplished. Do not make this list long. I suggest just 5 tasks. It is a daily list, not a life-long goals list. I propose only 1 “bigger task”, 2 “medium tasks” and 2 “small tasks”. In my mind, size relates to time and energy I must put forth to do each task. You will have you own idea of what is big vs small. And be careful NOT to put any HUGE tasks on your list. Break those up into smaller steps. For example, I wouldn’t put “redecorate the bathroom” on my list. Break it up. Write a big task such as “wash & prep the walls to paint.” A medium task could be to “order supplies” or to “make of list of needed supplies.” A small task such as “get the family to vote between two colors for bathroom.” You get the idea.
4. Try to keep a regular daily rhythm. Before you know it, all the business of normal life will come swooping back onto our calendar. You don’t want a rude awaking when suddenly you have to be places on time, actually get dressed in a presentable way, turn the taxi light back on the “mom-mobile”, reschedule all those fund-raisers, travel plans, reunions, graduations, christenings and family BBQs.
Come to think of it, after all this is over maybe, I will be scheduling some yearly quarantine time. 🤔
I will sign off using the quote of 2020 that will forever be ingrained in us.
"Stay safe, stay home and wash your hands often!!!"