Hanging On To Quarantine: the Moments that Bring Our Family Joy

I wish this pandemic had never happened. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. I have days where I sit in my favorite chair, sighing deeply as I think about what is going on outside of the walls of my home. I also have days when I am bored and want something new and exciting to do.

And I have days where my kids drive me nuts and I just want. a. break. For real.

But do you want to know a secret? Come in closely and let me whisper this in your ear, sweet friend. I don’t want my husband and my friends to hear me say this. So . . . I don’t hate this new slower life at home. I don’t. Yes there are hard days. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t.

However, this empty calendar with nowhere to go and nothing to do has been a breath of fresh air for our family.

Kids exploring outside

We have always been the get-up-and-go type of family. I remember talking to a friend once who told us a story about a conversation they were having with a mutual friend of ours and that person said, “Well, we can’t all be like the Varvels and just pick up and go anywhere we want with our two kids in tow!” When my friend shared this with me I was both proud and ashamed. Did people have opinions about us and our constant “go-go-go” mentality? Did I care? I wasn’t sure.

You see, it was not uncommon for us to have something going on multiple nights per week.

We are social people, especially my husband. Whether we had a weekly game night, or a scheduled social event with friends, there was typically something on the calendar. Even if there wasn’t, a common phrase you could hear in our home on a free evening or weekend morning was, “So, what should we do today?” What that really meant was, “Where should we go?” We would look online to find local events or search a local attraction we had never been to before. Sometimes the weekend would end and I’d wonder if we had taken time to rest, because I couldn’t remember.

An image of a boy playing during quarantine

Now, during quarantine, we are home all the time. We rest all the time.

The only places we go as a family are to local hiking trails or for a drive around town with the windows down and our family’s favorite playlist blasting. Other than that, we are home. Even as things have opened up more, we still spend the majority of our time at home.

Something I’ve learned during this time is that we can find joy and sweet moments just being home. It’s not that I didn’t know this before, but I had forgotten this because the fog of the “busy” was in my way. It happens to the best of us.

When I think ahead to the day when I go back to work in my office, and my kids go back to school (please, dear God!) there is a pit in my stomach. A little twinge of dread. I think it is because this “new normal” has begun to feel, well, normal. And when I think about that time in the future when our schedule will fill up again, I know there are things I will miss about this slower life.

An image of a girl playing during quarantine

I will miss slow mornings where the kids crawl into bed with us for a cuddle, and there is no rush to get ready for our day.

I will miss the long breakfasts at the kitchen table, all four of us, as we chat and start our day with family time.

I will miss drinking coffee with my husband after the kids have moved on to something else and we have a quiet moment at the table alone.

I will miss my short commute to work.

I will miss easy lunch breaks where my husband and I sneak an episode of Parks and Rec in while we eat lunch in the comfort of our living room.

I will miss afternoon bike ride sessions on the cul de sac where my kids ride circles while we lounge in camping chairs on our driveway.

I will miss hopping in the car for a midday hike at our favorite trail.

An image of kids hiking during quarantine

I will miss mixing an afternoon cocktail to enjoy when we are done with work for the day.

I will miss easing into the dinner hour, slowly prepping dinner, and getting things ready with no real urgency.

I will miss casual bedtimes and extended stories because no alarms are being set the next morning.

I will miss my new routine of an evening shower after the kids go to bed when I emerge calm and refreshed.

I will miss the complete relaxation I feel at the end of the day because I have nowhere to be tomorrow.

I know these things can happen again. It isn’t as if I can’t make these things a reality in the future. I know I can. This extended time at home has turned a spotlight on special moments that bring me joy and I need to make it a priority to help make these moments a regular part of the more chaotic weekly schedule I typically live. It’s a nice thought and I really do want to make it happen. But if I’m being honest, I know I will forget at times. I know I will get lost in the schedule of our day. I know I will get caught up in the stresses of work, school, and life.

So, for now I want take a breath and just bathe in the joy these sweet moments have brought me and remember that despite all of the chaos going on in the world right now, the quarantine did bring me sweet moments and I want to my wrap my fist around those moments and hang on.

What sweet moments do you want to hang on to when quarantine ends?

Linda is a Michigan native who moved to Iowa City in 2011 and hasn’t left yet. She and her husband of twelve years, Jacob, have two spunky kids – a kindergartner and a third grader. Linda works full time at the University of Iowa as the Administrative Director for the Medical Scientist Training Program. Together, Linda and her family enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (shhhh!), going on adventures both big and small, and playing board games (they have over 100 and will play with anyone they can talk into it). Linda is often told she has two volumes: on and off, and she will enthusiastically respond to any news you tell her. No matter the volume she uses, Linda is an “old soul” with a love for baking, embroidery, and old movies.


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