Many of you are still in the early days your “stay at home” orders during this unforgettable Coronavirus outbreak. And since we are already more than two weeks in to our quarantine here in Peru, I thought I might share a bit of my lockdown wisdom with you.
(Disclaimer… we don’t have any COVID-19 cases here, and I don’t know anyone, either in Peru or in the U.S., who has this virus. For that reason, this is a light-hearted post, meant mostly for the sake of entertainment.)
During the first few days of the lockdown you’ll find yourself allowing kids to stay up late, watch a lot of movies, eat huge bowls of popcorn instead of dinner, and sleep in later than usual. With the normal daily schedule a thing of yesterday, it almost feels like a holiday. Quarantine is not something to dread; your crew will thrive on all of the extra family time!
The quarantine honeymoon period doesn’t last long, however, once you realize that by combining too much TV with late nights and homeschool work the next morning, you have created nothing less than a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least, a calling card for some highly unpleasant attitudes, especially if Jr. Hi. aged kids are involved! So be prepared to set aside the next few days of your lockdown to figure out what your family’s “new normal” is going to be.
It is during this time (about 4 days in) that the “Happiness Police” will emerge from among the family ranks. (If possible, provide your family’s “Happiness Police” with some official police attire. This vest came from my stint in our neighborhood watch group.)
The Happiness Police is the person who realizes that emotional stability is of utmost importance while the whole family is confined to close quarters for the next week and a half. This person will go out of her way to make sure that everyone is occupied with interesting and fun activities. She will jump right in whenever she hears the beginning of an argument and try to squelch it before it turns in to a full-fledged fight.
(Note: the picture below is only a simulation of what the Happiness Police might face during this time.)
She will organize exercise classes in the evenings, and make sure there is a large collection of table games within everyone’s reach. Her kitchen will be filled with everyone’s favorite foods, since we all know that the way to a man’s or boy’s heart is through his stomach. (More about that in a minute.)
In the process, the Happiness Police will most likely neglect her own emotional stability, and it will be a few more days before she realizes that everyone else is OK, but she is not. For this reason, it is of utmost importance to have a few hidden stashes of chocolate that only she knows about.
Now that you’re about 5 days in to your quarantine, it will suddenly seem like the majority of your day is spent cooking! Even if you have always cooked most of your family’s meals, it can seem a bit daunting when you suddenly have no option of being invited to someone else’s house, or going out to eat “menu” for lunch, or buying a nice pollo a la brasa & french fries for dinner. Plus, you have your entire family with you for 3 full meals a day, plus snacks. However, as I mentioned before, if you are the family Happiness Police, you’ll see this as an opportunity to keep people fairly content.
And if you find yourself unexpectedly homeschooling, you’ll quickly learn that a large percentage of the day’s classes can be taught in the kitchen… including the cleanup at the end!
The unfortunate news, now that you are nearing the end of your first full week of lockdown, is that pets start getting needy. While at first they loved the lockdown because it meant that the humans were at home all day long, they now sense a bit of tension in the ranks. My 14 year old actually commented that “the dogs are acting a lot like kids, aren’t they, Mom?” (If he only knew!)
In our case, the needy pets include both dogs, several of the chickens, and one of the cats.
The other cat, Desmond Doss, better knows as Desi, has been practicing social distancing ever since a near-fatal neutering situation a couple of years ago. So at least we have one less needy animal!
Changing the subject from pets back to kids, this if for all of you parents who never wanted to homeschool but suddenly find yourselves in that position for the rest of the year. Be very careful about reading every “real” homeschooling mom’s posts on Facebook. One of your friends will tell you that it’s very important to maintain a legitimate school-style schedule, with kids and teachers nicely dressed and ready to go at 8:30 sharp. Another friend will encourage you to throw out the schedule completely and have PAJAMA DAY!
sILLy HaiR DaY!!
read–in–bed day! Art Day!
Now, I’m not suggesting that homeschool moms can’t give good advice; I’ve read a lot of the Facebook posts and ALL of the suggestions for making homeschool work are great. It’s just that most of us are homeschooling veterans… we have several years of experience under our belts. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t for our families. And I would wager to say that most of us have found a happy medium between the two types of teachers mentioned above.
So read the posts, but take them with a grain of salt. The important thing is to find out what works best, not only for your family, but for each particular kid. And if you end up seeing something like this… don’t panic. You have the rest of the year to fix it! (Remember, too, that you have your official police attire, but it’s wise to only use it if absolutely necessary.)
This is just the first week of your lockdown. And so far we’ve only dealt with kids & pets and the Happiness Police. You might be wondering where the man of the house has been during the first week. From what I hear, some men have the type of job where they can bring their work home, and they just shut themselves up in a spare bedroom with a computer during most of week one. Other men don’t have office work that they can bring home, so it’s a blessing if they have a variety of home-repair projects.
The novelty of all this free time for projects seems to wear off a few days into the second week of lockdown, however. That’s when it becomes important for a wise wife / mom / cook / homeschool teacher / Happiness Police to take some quick and decisive action. We need to encourage The Next Big Project while making it seem like jumping into that job was HIS idea and not ours.
I did this by shutting off the semi-broken hot water heater one afternoon. (In my defense, the gas heater really did sound like it was ready to explode when the flame sensor kicked in!)
We managed without hot showers for a couple of nights… actually, I should be honest and say that we managed without showers at all. Just another advantage of social distancing! And while I’m on that point… if there are any pre-teen boys in the house, this might be another time when you need to put on the police vest and MAKE the kid take a shower!
Anyhow, after a few nights without hot water, Ade came up with the smart idea of watching a few water heater repair tutorials, and within the next few hours, he had it fixed. One of my Peruvian friends commented that it might be a good idea to have regular quarantines, at least for men who have long “honey-do” lists!
So this brings us to the end of our 2 week quarantine. The unfortunate news, however, is that the Peruvian president extended our lockdown for another 2 weeks. Since I really don’t know what to expect for the second half of this ordeal, I’m not sure I can help you much with how to handle a month-long lockdown. But if I come up with any good ideas between now and then, I’ll be sure to pass along the advice… or at least send out a few funny stories and pictures.