Guest Post by: Tara Layne Goebel
I have come to believe there are two different Corona Quarantine experiences. Those of us quarantined with toddlers and those without.
Obviously that is a drastic understatement of what some people are dealing with right now, but for those of you running out of books to read, Pinterest meals to make, new online workouts to try, choreographed family dance videos on TikTok to make…let me just walk you through the “Toddler Experience”. I am certain you will embrace your current boredom with a new found appreciation.
My day SHOULD start earlier with some self reflection, a few yoga poses, and a cup of coffee solo on the patio. Instead, it begins with a bang! To be exact, it usually begins with the sound of my sons feet banging into his crib in the room next to mine. Daycare is closed indefinitely and my military husband is partially quarantined on his base, so that wild man alarm clock is meant only for me. I take a luxurious five minutes for my own self care. Things like brushing my teeth and putting on pants (you know…”me time”) before I go in to greet my little man. We spend about 30 minutes starting the day together. We open his windows and count the cars that drive by. At 2 years old, he is learning his colors. So much of our time is spent yelling “RED TRUCK” out the window or reading Brown Bear multiple times. If you haven’t read it lately…I highly recommend it. It is best read at least 4 times consecutively.
After a fresh diaper (the first of many) and some comfy play clothes, we bound down the hall to wake up another little baby. Georgia Layne is 7 months old and I would quarantine myself with her any day of the week! She is happy from the moment she wakes up. My son Camden runs in screaming with red truck excitement and she just smiles at him and watches his wild man behavior. I use one hand to hold my daughter to me as I nurse her and the other to console and entertain a two year old. This is NOT for the inexperienced or for the under caffeinated.
Then on to the kitchen to make breakfast. It’s our quarantine routine. We sing the ABC’s. We make eggs. We clean Mommy’s wine glass from last night in preparation for the day. All before 9am. I suggest we all nap…but they never take me up on it. Instead, I get Camden started with an activity and set Gigi up with an apple and kale puree. This buys me about 15 minutes to check emails and look at what work needs to be accomplished. As you probably know, toddlers have about a 5 minute attention span. So shortly after…Camden is back by my side asking for a snack or a show. I try to avoid both and distract him with going outside. After he agrees, we spend about 20 minutes arguing that “we have to put shoes on to go outside”. For Camden, shoes are one of the worst parts of his day. Second only to nap time and washing his hands. He lives a very tough life.
It takes about 4 trips to get myself, two kids, and our dog Jackson outside onto our patio. But still, we are grateful to have outdoor space and enjoy the fresh air. I give a socially distanced smile and wave to my neighbors before setting up camp. Toys, pacifiers, sippy cups…we have it all. I turn on some music (the adult kind) and sit on our porch swing. Camden notices that I am too relaxed for his watch so he insists that we run up and down the drive way an endless amount of times. I am out of breath after round three. I must have Corona…
For those wondering, it’s 11:30am as we head back inside to wash our hands (Number 2 on Camden’s dreaded to do list) and have lunch. Peanut butter for Camden, milk for Gigi, and more coffee for Mommy. By this point, we have each ONLY cried 4-10 times so we treat ourselves to an Elmo adventure on YouTube. As nap time slowly approaches, I am filled with a sense of excitement for my upcoming freedom. I spend 30 minutes reading to Camden and getting him settled back into his crib, and then another 30 changing and rocking Gigi to sleep, and finally nap time. The most glorious silence you’ve ever heard. A whole hour to focus on a work task, call a friend, or dare I say it…shower. I try to use it wisely, but there is always part of me that just wants to turn on Netflix and chill. Is that still a thing??
Naps are over in the blink of an eye. At some point in the day, hopefully I’ve thrown something into the crockpot and finished work enough to turn off my screens and give my full attention to the kids in the afternoon. Normally, we pack the crew back up for round 2 of our epic patio adventure. The shoe fight is postponed and the sunscreen fight commences. We spend the rest of the afternoon laughing, running around, calling Grandma, and changing diapers. As with most quarantined humans, happy hour starts early and Mommy’s wine glass is back in action! (How she missed you) A quick cheers to my small milk drinking friends and the day is renewed. After dinner and several more tantrums, there’s bath time, pajama’s, and the night time routine begins. Jealous yet??
As I tuck my son Camden into bed, I smell the top of his head. I can still smell the sunscreen that bath time didn’t touch. It reminds me of a day spent talking about dinosaurs, counting to five, kissing boo boo’s, and spinning in circles…a day well spent. I am reminded that his little-ness is fleeting and how precious it is to see him grow and learn. He says “nigh nigh Momma” as I leave his room and my heart melts. Gigi is up next. I get her ready for bed and rock her in the dark. Just yesterday she was in my belly and I was longing to hold her, and now here she is sleeping soundly in my arms. Quarantined world and all, life is good.
This military life, separated from family and friends is not easy. Having two little one’s at home and fearful for the health and well-being of our world is absolutely challenging, but there is nothing greater than a mother’s love for her children. They inspire me to have hope for tomorrow.
Stay healthy and sane out there!! Momma’s orders.