The Unexpected Blessings of Quarantine

I’ve been meaning to document our time in quarantine but the last few months, as one can expect, have been a whirlwind.

As everyone is familiar with now, the COVID-19 pandemic forced our family, and many others, into quarantine for a couple of months. In the middle of March, my services as a Dental Hygienist were deemed “elective” and thus I found myself at home full-time. Not too long after that, my husband began working from home. Let me say this, we are both incredibly blessed to work for amazing companies that handled this pandemic with so much grace and leadership…and they continue to do so as the country fights to re-open.

Our family of four found ourselves at home for the second half of March, all of April, and most of May. I was able to go back to work in May but we still were in quarantine when I was off work – we still acted with caution in regards to our daily life. We limited our outings, we limited the amount of people we were around, and we stayed home as much as we could.

Being at home full-time with our two boys wasn’t much of a stretch for me – I am typically at home with them most of the week anyway (I work two days a week at the office and am “off” the rest of the week – though my days “off” are far from that).

When this whole quarantine began, I made a promise to myself that I would let quarantine would transform me…my lifestyle, my habits, my parenting, my faith life…everything.

During Quarantine, we were in full out crisis mode. Some days were very peaceful, other days we were just holding on to our boy’s nap times and bed times. Some days were filled with fun projects and activities, other days were filled with way too much screen time and way too many fruit snacks. I gave myself grace…something that has not always been easy for me to do.

The main thing that quarantine forced us to do was slow down.

We learned what it truly meant to slow down.

I always think that you can be intentional and want to “slow down” but until you are forced to do so, it can’t really happen. Even people with the best intentions of “slowing down” may not truly be able to until it is the only option.

And for a while, it was our only option. Gone were the days of our Target runs, the grocery trips the boys and I would do every week together, and our trips to the park by our home. Instead we turned to walks around the neighborhood, grocery pick-ups, and outdoor time in the backyard. My husband was fortunate enough to work from home during all of this but we had to maintain boundaries so our boys would know that dad was working and couldn’t play all the time – that was a tough one because dad is the “fun one.”

Instead of the big 2nd birthday party I had planned for our youngest son, we had a quarantine-style birthday party for him complete with homemade cake and celebrating in “shifts” – first with my in-laws and then with my parents – so there wouldn’t be too many people here at once.

I enjoyed the slower pace. I enjoyed not being on the go with errands to here and there…and not going on Target runs to pick up this and that…and not doing the grocery trips that were filled with just the perfect amount of discipline and bribery. I realized that these errands became “time fillers” – they filled up our day in hopes that the day would go by faster. When we took these “time fillers” out of our days, things became much more pleasant around here.

Since we didn’t have all these trips to fill our days with, we could focus on our family. We were able to go through closets and bins in order to lighten our attachment to items and clothes. We were able to potty-train our youngest (a self-given raise since we eliminated our diaper budget). We were able to begin writing letters with our oldest. We were able to color pictures and crafts and send them to grandparents who live far away. We were able to play without fear of “running out of time.”

When it all started, it was a challenge for me to slow down. It was a challenge for me to forget the to-do lists and just focus on getting through the day. However, it grew on me.

Slowing down was the unexpected blessing of our time in quarantine.

I enjoyed it so much that we are keeping it this way. It’s now the beginning of July. My husband is back at work at the office. I have been back at work but am still at home with the boys the rest of the week.

Instead of cramming my time “off” with errands and trips with the boys, I am choosing to forgo those trips to keep the slower pace that we were forced into with quarantine. Instead of putting the boys in front of the TV so I can get some cleaning done, I am choosing to turn off the distractions and include them in the household chores. Instead of turning to my phone for a quick getaway on social media, I am choosing to put it on silent so I can enjoy the sweet (and loud) sounds of the boys playing (and fighting) together.

We are choosing to slow down. It’s something we always aimed for but could never quite accomplish…now that we know what that means (thanks quarantine), we can not only aim for it but we can accomplish it too.

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