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stay at home family

When sheltering-in-place means your life is –not an extended Netflix binger– but busier and more complicated than ever…one may process by documentation. Enjoy.


6:30am Alarm goes off. Snooze for 10 minutes and then drag body out of bed and into the shower. Have no idea what day it is.

6:50-7:10 Get dressed (same jeans as yesterday, clean and colorful stripey t-shirt, gold hoop earrings) and apply simple makeup (concealer, gel blush, and brow pencil always). House-shoes are the new real shoes, so I bought a new pair a couple of weeks ago (and promptly spilled beef stock on them, but then found out that they are machine washable. Air dried to be on the safe side.)

7:10 French press with the good coffee.

7:15-7:25 Wake up all three boys by opening the curtains, turning on the lights, and singing a made-up song. The two oldest (ages 6 and 8) are not thrilled; the youngest (2) is a bright little sunshine baby! Boys get dressed and slowly make their way to the kitchen.

7:30-8:05 Michael has made everyone (except the oldest boy) cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. He eats quickly and then heads upstairs to the office to start his workday; I am encouraging everyone to actually eat the food in front of them. The oldest son gets a fried egg, which he ignores, and then complains that it is cold. We talk about the meaning of the Resurrection and watch two woodpeckers fight for dominance outside the window.

8:10-8:25 Two oldest boys finish breakfast, do their chores (walk dog, feed dog, make beds, brush teeth) while I set up their laptops on the dining table. It takes me a few minutes to sort out the folders of work, all manner of papers neatly clipped together, according to the boy and area of the table they will be working. Then I sign in to each respective Zoom meeting, which is their virtual classroom for the day, and call them to the table.

8:30-8:55 Class begins for older boys. They are each wearing headphones and chatting with their classmates. Youngest boy is still finishing bites of his breakfast (he’s a leisurely eater) while I clean up the breakfast mess. I get things (re: dishes) to a manageable level and then take him with me around the house doing small chores–making my bed, tidying the bathrooms, hanging up a random jacket, starting a load of laundry. He talks my ear off in toddler parlance the entire time.

9:00 Non-domestic work time! Grandmother comes over to spend a few hours with the youngest boy. This standing weekly date hasn’t changed in the time of corona, mostly because their cottage lies a mere 20 feet from our back door. We share most of life together. These weeks spent at home, coinciding with the return of spring, has seen the entire lot of us (grandparents, husband and wife, three young boys, stir-crazy dog) outside in our shared space doing springy things–making raised beds, tilling soil, planting trees and grass seed, pulling weeds, transplanting other vibrant green things, wrestling with grapevines, moving too many rocks around. We can’t practically social distance from each other, so we function as a consolidated unit. Besides, it would be nearly impossible to keep little boys from running over to open windows and inquiring about the occupants inside 😉 This is both a joy and a question mark–what is even appropriate during a pandemic? Together, we are less than the “group of ten,” but our coming and going that is actually essential (two of us works outside the home at essential businesses, plus the occasional trip to the grocery, etc.) makes the group vulnerable…or maybe our communal presence allows us to quarantine more comfortably? I don’t know. Nobody seems to know.

9:05-12:00 I join Michael in the office and put on my heavy duty headphones because he is (thankfully) making sales calls. I vacillate between Spotify playlists of “Gold Instrumental Beats” and “Chilled Jazz,” just anything without words that I can deep read and write to. This week I am primarily working on an exegetical paper on a selected text from 1 Corinthians and a literary review of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as writing an Easter newsletter/email to my subscribers. I find that it helps to work through my inbox for the first 15 minutes or so to sort of “on ramp” my brain to creative work mode. The mental transition from mom to college student/writer is one of the most challenging things about working from home, although it isn’t totally new to the quarantine situation. There are way more interruptions now that the older boys are at home (“mom, the sound isn’t working on my computer!” or “mom, can I have another snack?”) and every time I sit back down in my chair to continue working, it takes a moment for my brain to register the mode. I wish I could turn the mom-reflex on “airplane mode” sometimes.

12:00-12:30 How is it noon already? Those few hours flew by. It feels like I didn’t get enough done, but it always seems like that, and then somehow everything gets done. Michael throws together a few sandwiches with small bowls of leftover beef and veggie soup and we all sit down together for lunch (Grandmother heads back to her house).

12:30-1:30 The older two boys finish up their school day with one last hour of class, while Michael and I do our new mid-day routine–clean up the lunch mess and take the toddler and dog on a walk. We meander down the long driveway, over the bridge and past the babbling creek, ending up at “bamboo forest” (what the boys have christened the patch of bamboo separating our property from the neighbors.) Our youngest finds rocks to toss in the water and flowers/weeds to bring back home. The sun feels amazing on my cheeks and the wind is kicking up a bit…might get some rain tonight.

1:30-4:00 The afternoon is a wild card. Ideally, the smallest boy will go down for a two hour nap (which he is trying to protest as of this week!!) while the bigger boys finish any homework. When they are done I try to force them outside, which only works sometimes. If they become occupied playing soccer or helping their grandparents with the garden beds, then I will attempt to steal more time in front of my computer or catch up on the many Marco Polo messages waiting patiently to be viewed. This stretch of hours is the most difficult to get real work done (the kind that takes serious thinking at a sustained pace/will contribute to my GPA), so I try to do small tasks and/or “fun” work, like writing this blog post. At some point I will definitely find myself in the kitchen pouring a glass of cold brew with coconut almond milk. Maybe even go for a refill, depending on how late I stayed up the night before (tornado Twitter notifications don’t help.) Chocolate of some kind is involved–I don’t discriminate.

4:35 Zone out and reminisce about when we were allowed to travel…

4:00-5:00 GET OFF COMPUTER. Go outside. Walk, play baseball with the boys, talk to Michael’s parents, take the dog for another walk, fiddle with my porch plants. Anything in the real world, the fresh air and birds chirping world. I feel thankful to live in out in the countryside during this weird time, even though I miss silly things like the Target dollar section and the buzz of a busy coffee shop. Michael wraps up his office work and everyone heads out to burn off some energy.

5:00-6:30 Dinner prep, eat, and clean up. It’s starting to feel like that Jim Gaffigan video from last week. I -at least- light some candles and put on quiet, calming music while we eat to try and trick our children into acting like tiny cultured adults (just kidding! tiny cultured chimpanzees would be fine, too.)

6:30-7:30 This hour is generally known as “bath time,” held over from an era of cute lil tushes in bubbly water. The youngest still likes to play in the bath; the other two are like cats, avoiding even the notion of water and soap. It all gets done (somehow it all gets done!), including pj’s and puzzles and toothpaste and last minute LEGO projects. If I can steal away to the office, I might jump on a ZOOM meeting with my virtual book club or writing group for awhile.

7:30-8:00 Michael reads to the boys. Right now it’s Ember’s End, which we highly recommend for any age group (for lovers of Narnia, especially!)

8:00 The Blessed Hour of Boy’s Bedtime. Prayers and kisses and lights out. Selah.

8:05-10:30ish Grown-up time! Which could mean that I dive back into assigned reading for school (Puritan history, anyone?) if I’m being VERY DISCIPLINED…but usually means that I make a giant bowl of ice cream with peanut butter filled pretzels and watch the latest episode of Better Call Saul on the projector screen in our bedroom. Man, that was a timely project for the hubs to pull together–mere days before being quarantined! That guy is the best.

10:30ish Sleep beckons. It’s been a beautiful day in quarantined middle Tennessee, but now the hour draws nigh for the Twitter notifications to start trickling in…another tornado is on its way.

Thank you and Goodnight!

Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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