A year ago today, Mountain View Public Schools officially shuttered their doors. At the time, they told us, it'll be closed for 3 weeks. Stay tuned for details.
On the first day of the Shelter In Place order, I told my best friend that schools will not be reopening. She was shocked, "how could they not reopen? What will we do???"
And we found out. Like many working mothers, I was thrown into uncharted territory. I still worked (for a major tech company), and now there are 2 kids who will be home with us, all day everyday.
I didn't have time to despair, instead, I sprung into action. Over the course of 2 days I found a part time sitter, who started working for us the day SIP went into effect. A week later her sister was sent home from college, and both worked for us until they left for school.
Heading into this period, I had 3 goals:
1. To keep myself healthy and sane
2. To keep my marriage strong
3. To keep the kids safe and maintain whatever normalcy we can
With clear goals in my head, I set a schedule for myself. I worked out in the early morning, then worked 5 whole hours while we had childcare (#1). In the afternoon I'd be with the kids, prep/cook dinner (and check email when I can). We'd keep the kids home, but [within Covid-safe bounds] let them have as much freedom and agency as possible (#3). And once a week my husband and I would do something that's just for us (#2).
Once we had a schedule, I felt I had a tiny shred of normalcy. It didn't last. The ground kept shifting. As we lost one sitter to grad school, we also gained one of our long-term sitters back. Schedules evolved as our care situation evolved. In July we decided to take a trip to Southern California - our first road trip ever. It ended up being one of the best decisions we made - despite various restrictions, we made the most of the trip and had an amazing time.
After 3 months of Sheltering in Place, it was clear to me that being home was impacting my children's mental health negatively, so I changed course.
We sought out a home-based daycare for the little one and enrolled him. For my older son, after 4 summer camp cancellations and re-bookings, I found two camps that stayed open through July and August.
And once it became clear that public schools would not reopen for the Fall, we quickly decided to form a "pandemic learning pod" with another family whose kids attended the same school. Together with our pod family, we interviewed and hired a teacher, and got the pod up & running, all within 3 weeks. When it became clear that distant learning wasn't working for my son, we pulled him out of public school and he was "homeschooled" by the pod teacher.
In the Fall our pod family announced that they were headed to the East Coast to be with extended family. We decided that the pod would go on break while they're gone. As I diligently looked for alternate care options for my son (there was none), it became very clear that the lack of options is because....he was supposed to be in school. And so, in November I went on Carer's Leave to stay home with my eldest. I ended up finding another family who was homeschooling their children, so he could go there several days a week - enough hours for me to have time for myself and get stuff done.
The pod family then extended their trip, but we decided to bring back the pod teacher early. So there were a few weeks where it was just my son and the pod teacher. When the pod reunited, we had a Covid exposure - my youngest son was tested positive. We then went into "lockdown quarantine" for 10 days, then another 10 days since we were further exposed.
By the end of February things were finally back on track, just in time for us to get an offer for the private school that we applied to. We asked for 2 weeks of transition time to wrap up the pod and to get my son enrolled.
And here we are, back in March. My eldest son will [finally] be returning to in-person school, the same day that his public school closed its doors. The irony is not lost on me.
So, I made it. A full year of non-stop changes, of childcare challenges, of shifting relationships. It wasn't easy, but I'm proud of me. I took on each challenge head on, made adjustments when required, and kept my top 3 priorities.
In the end, my family took 5 trips between March & March, I am still alive and sane, my kids are safe and know they are loved, and my marriage is stronger than ever.
What's your pandemic story? How did you pivot and adjust? Looking back, what were the silver linings? Share your story in the comments, and let's talk!
With our pandemic learning pod family on our last day
with our SIP sitters. One of the sitters stayed with us until September, 2020
With our summer "germ" family. Being able to hangout with two other kids made my kids (and me) SO happy
Ben and I on our weekly "date night." Sometimes in the rain
Our first-ever family road trip to Southern California. We stayed at Tarranea Resort and had the BEST time