As I stood at the window watching our oldest walk to his classroom on the first day of school, his younger brother waving with excitement and blowing kisses, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I already missed life during the lockdown.
Spring Break started on a Thursday afternoon in March, just when things were starting to look pretty scary with COVID and fearing the unknown. I thought at worst we would have an extended Spring Break, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d have both boys home with us for nearly six months. All of a sudden parents were thrown into facilitating online learning with their children while balancing the juggling act of entertaining other children in the house and/or full-time jobs. Our life as we knew it had changed in a matter of days.
It was all hands on deck as my husband worked from home and I trained my clients and taught our fitness classes online. We decided early on we would be honest with the kids with what was happening, not to instill fear, but to learn how to adapt to curveballs we are sometimes thrown in life. We found ourselves working harder in many ways, but also found that we had more time on our hands not having to run to lunch meetings, after school sports, or social obligations. We used that time to go back to the basics, finding fun things to do outside as a family — something I know should have been happening all along, but we had allowed our busy lives to cause more stress, less patience, and I was welcoming this newfound slower-paced life with open arms.
We had to let go of expectations. With all of us being home 24/7, the house was (pretty much) never clean. The refrigerator was empty more often with the million snacks the kids wanted throughout the day. Routine was out the window, and as someone who thrives on routine, this was hard for me. But I let it go. I connected with friends I hadn’t talked to in far too long, played board games with the kids, and went on nature walks and bike rides. Roads were empty and for two months it felt like the St. Augustine I grew up in. The spring weather seemed to last far into May and I made it a point to find the good in all that was happening. I leaned in to not having as much on my plate and realized I actually need to say ‘no’ more so that I can say yes to more things with family.
Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
Of course, with these fun, laid back days came fights with the kids, tension with my husband, and extreme sadness with watching so many suffer in the world. Some days felt like an eternity and some weeks just seemed to fly by. My business, like so many, took a big hit. As much as we wanted things to be back to normal, it was apparent that we were far from it, and the uncertainty often felt paralyzing.
We had to get creative, pivot, and persevere. We found grace with each other, we worked together to do chores in the house and we decided as a family what we would do each day once the work was done.
Questioning Our Decisions
As I fought back the tears watching the masked kids walk back into a new normal at school, I wanted so badly to be sitting on the couch with them again, enjoying my coffee as we eased into our day, keeping them safe under my wing. I found myself reflecting on the last six months, almost in mourning over that time we so badly needed together. The days leading up to school starting had us questioning our choice — did we make the right choice? Should we have kept them home? But as one friend told me, every parent was questioning their decision of how they proceeded with school, just as parents often do with any big decision.
As we talked about the 1st day of school together over dinner, we found comfort in hearing the excitement in the boys’ voices as they talked about the new friends they had met in class and how happy they were to be back, and at that moment, I felt at peace.