The Pandemic from March 2020 to August 2021

Our lives have been permanently altered ever since the Pandemic began. For me, it’s been a balancing act to be a full-time student, homeschool parent, work, and practice self-care. I’ve been blessed to have some amazing people in my life that have helped me along the way. In a couple of weeks, Universities are going to be open on campus again. I don’t know how it happened, but the lifestyle of the pandemic has become “normal” to me.  I am not sure what it will be like to return to attending school on campus again. The last year and a half have had lonely moments but I found my rhythm and most important I found my core needs, which may never have happened without the time out. It gave me a lot of time to look out the window and think about life.

A person looking out the window.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

School

At first, I spent hours reading and struggled to do well on my exams. My Psychology professor showed me a new way to study and I quickly realized how much energy I was using on things that didn’t matter. The most important thing was to focus my time on the activities that were the most important and use a technique called retrieval practice. He told us to read the material once and spend our time recalling it from our notes or cue cards. The result was less time studying and better grades. This became a core part of everything in my life, focus on what matters. I figured out ways to listen to lectures and enjoy some fresh air while my son could play.

A laptop and school books set up in the backyard
Listening to my Professor in the backyard.

Home

I could spend hours cleaning and cooking and still feel like I wasn’t finished. Once I applied the idea above to my home it became easier. We figured out what the core activities were that mattered and made a list of priorities. For us it looked like this:

  1. Shopping
  2. Cooking
  3. Cleaning daily: dishes, sweeping, sanitizing high touch areas.
  4. Cleaning bi-daily or weekly: laundry, mopping, cleaning the bathroom, laundry, making beds.
  5. Gardening: mowing the lawn, weeding, watering.
Making ice cream with a mixer
Making ice cream
Finished ice cream
Homemade ice cream
A garden plot
Our community garden plot

I realized that I could turn mundane things into enjoyable activities. One way we could spend time together was to prepare meals and cook. Part of homeschool is writing and planning and my son helped me find recipes, write lists, and shop. We prepared the food and ate meals together. It made shopping, cooking, and cleaning up more enjoyable. When I worked on other less enjoyable activities, I listened to complementary learning, one of my favorites, Crash Course. Gardening helps me to feel more grounded, reduce stress, and connect with nature.

Family

Much of the time during the pandemic was spent with only our family. We enjoyed time together playing games and going for long walks. We did a lot of things but these are our top five. One of my favorite places to visit is the ocean where we can enjoy the feeling of wind in our faces and sand in our toes.

  1. Game night
  2. Movie night
  3. Reading together
  4. Jumping on the trampoline
  5. Hiking together
A sunset at the ocean
Enjoying nature at the ocean.

Social

Keeping a social life was a little more challenging. My neighbors met in a 6′ triangle each day and shared our daily stories along with a hot cup of coffee. These became fond times that I looked forward to. Cars would drive by and look at us like we were aliens, standing far apart, in our pj’s and laughing, and enjoying contact with the outside world. As things opened up, we let the kids play with each other in the yard as we sat on blankets in the front yard.

Homeschool

Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Everything we do is a part of learning. I began to incorporate our daily lessons into everyday life and allow my son to lead with his interests. I focused on six goals and found that I really began to value homeschool. Many other parents were forced to learn how to homeschool their kids when schools closed. Once they opened, they experienced many difficulties as the world tried to figure out how to navigate new normals. For a year, we didn’t have anyone working with us, it was just me and my son and I learned quickly.

These were our points of focus:

  1. Planning activities
  2. Reading
  3. Exploring
  4. Journaling
  5. Getting out in nature
  6. Apps that help

When I returned to University I had intended in taking a class or two while I raised my son. Then the pandemic happened and all classes went online. I ended up taking 60 credits in my first two years instead. The demand of academic requirements forced me to focus on what mattered and to let go of the rest. Overall, the experience grew me significantly as a person, brought me closer to my children, and nearly earned me a diploma in Social Work. It showed me that lemons really can be turned into lemonade and the if it is in God’s will anything is possible.