Today marks a year since our first day of quarantine in 2020. I remember thinking that two weeks at home with Amalia while Anel and I tried to work would be a challenge. Little did we know what was to come!
I will never forget that weekend before lockdown when I went to the grocery store to stock up. The shelves were empty and people were frantically filling their carts. It was so eerie and felt like a scene from a movie. I ran into one of my best friends at the store and we locked eyes and both just started crying. I think that was the moment when I realized how real things were about to get. We still talk about that and how we felt so lost and scared.
That was also the week where we all got sick with what we think was COVID, but we’ll never really be sure. Either way, it was a brutal week where we all had fevers, coughs, and body aches and Anel was trying to create a virtual business for the first time.
Once we got better, we fell into a very different but pretty good routine. Anel would work with clients online in the mornings while I was on mom duty then I’d take the afternoons to work and he would play with Amalia. It quickly became our new normal.
We created obstacle courses, made homemade pasta, played soccer in the driveway every night before dinner, did lots of scooting, had plenty of dance parties, participated in many Zoom calls with friends and family, and even did a TikTok challenge.
I realized quickly that with only a few hours to work each day, I would have to cut down my marketing work which had just started to really explode. It was a bummer but I knew I had to focus on keeping my daughter happy and do whatever I could for campaigns.
We soon lost our minds like everyone else… hence the cutting of Amalia’s quarantine bangs which remains one of the most hilarious moments of the last year. I’m happy to report that a year later they are finally grown all the way out!
Over the summer we felt really lucky to live near a beach where we ended up pretty much every weekend.
On a personal level, a lot happened to my family! My sister and I both got pregnant, we (Anel) built and cultivated a beautiful vegetable garden, we got chickens (they’re moving outside to their coop this week!), we finally decorated to make our house a home, and we prepared for our baby boy who will be joining us in a few short weeks. While it was a hard year in many many ways, there were so many beautiful moments and memories that I’ll never forget.
The lessons that we’ve all learned in the last year are ones that I imagine will stick with us forever. Here are some of mine.
Lessons Learned in a Pandemic Year
1. Marriage can be hard work… but it’s worth it
There’s nothing like being stuck in your house for months on end with your spouse/partner and child to really test a marriage/relationship. I’m actually shocked that the divorce rate hasn’t risen at an insane rate. Anel and I re-upped our Fair Play with some new rules that have really helped with dividing not only household tasks but emotional labor. He has stepped it up with household tasks and taken responsibility for a lot of the little things that were frustrating me. It’s not 50/50 since he works out of the house and I work from home, but it now feels very fair. That has cut down on our arguments by a ton.
And even though we went six months without a date night out, we made it work with nights at home eating by candlelight, chatting by the fire, or playing games. When we prioritize time together without screens or our kiddo, it makes a world of difference for our relationship. We are taking a little babymoon this weekend and are very much looking forward to two nights away from our real lives. I told him I don’t even need to do anything. Room service and reading a book all day is fine by me!
2. Everyone is going through their own sh*t
Things haven’t always been rainbows and butterflies in the last year when it comes to relationships with other people who have differing political views or thoughts on COVID safety. Everyone I know has gone through some sort of issue be it big or small. But having lived through it myself both on a personal level and, most often, online, I’ve realized that everyone is going through it right now in one way or another.
Forgiveness and understanding are key, even if you don’t always agree with the other person. Being right isn’t always the answer. Let the people you love go through what they have to go through and let’s hope they do the same for you. Offer love and support and take a step back when you need to.
Mean comments online have multiplied tenfold this year and while, admittedly, some of them put me in a very dark place, for the most part, I’m (still) working on forgiving and ignoring because I know the person on the other side of that message is going through their own sh*t too.
3. Get creative and create your own fun
Over the two winters in the pandemic, we couldn’t go very many places or see people inside so we learned to create our own fun. And our kid couldn’t be happier! One of my favorite traditions we’ve started in the last year is ice cream Fridays. We’ve had one almost every single Friday for a year and Amalia loves them and looks forward to them all week. Anel and I pick her up and we go out to ice cream (yep, before dinner) every Friday night. On warm days, we’ll eat it at the beach, and on cold ones, we bring it home or have it in the car. Now that I’m getting really tired in the evenings, they’ll go alone together and it’s created a really sweet event for them to have, just the two of them.
And over the summer, we found lots of fun activities like kayaking (pictured above), neighborhood socially distanced concerts, and beach picnics that we could do safely. Getting out of the house whenever possible, and creating fun in our own four walls got us through the last year.
4. Don’t try to be the “perfect” parent
First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. It doesn’t exist. But if you’re having a stressful work week and your kid eats mac and cheese for 3 nights in a row and watches three hours of TV in a day, don’t sweat it! I’ve learned to let those things go. Amalia is just fine despite not having perfectly healthy meals or planned out days. And lots of extra screen time. Give yourself a little break when it comes to parenting. As they say, you can’t fill from an empty cup and sometimes you just need to take a second for yourself. That’s more than ok.
5. Give yourself some grace
That parenting advice goes for everyone, actually. None of us can be the best friends, partners, daughters, sisters, or coworkers every day. Sometimes this new normal starts to feel normal and I wonder why I’m feeling out of sorts (in addition to the hormones) or unmotivated. We are living through something truly unprecedented. And it’s ok to not always be ok. In fact, it would be weird if you don’t have days where you aren’t ok. If you go to sleep with a hot mess of a kitchen (me, currently) or if you can’t can’t seem to get yourself dressed for a few days (also me, currently) or if you need to take a mental health day. There are a lot of us out here not functioning on all cylendars. If you feel like that, you’re not alone.