Saturday, April 18, 2020

Keep a Routine

A month has went by since our lives have been altered by the pandemic. In many ways, this month has went much better than I expected. Most of the credit goes to my brother who has moved into our  house these weeks. Having another adult around has been a huge blessing.

When I learned that for a few weeks, at minimum, we would be spending most of our time at home, I made five personal goals. After a month, I can look back and see how much these five goals have been helpful to me.

In the next few days, I'll talk about each of these goals. And I hope you share with us what has been helping you stay sane in these weeks.

1. Keep a routine.

My life wasn't upended by this pandemic. I was already homeschooling; I spend most of my time at home. But we do have an active social life. Since the quarantine coincided with our return from a week in North Carolina, we had to re-find our routine. It was rougher than I expected. The weather was delightful, we were almost done with our school books, and all motivation was gone.

With all our social activities canceled, no longer could I say, "Let's finish our schoolwork, and then we'll go to the library." Or "Clean up your rooms quickly this afternoon, because friends are coming for pizza tonight." With no one coming over and nowhere to go, who feels like cleaning, or making special meals.

Like many of you, I feel the effect of quarantine brain. I struggle to concentrate or be motivated to tackle projects. I have more time than usual, but didn't feel like doing any of my projects. I could sew a new dress, but I don't have anywhere to wear it.

The tendency for me in time of uncertainties is to stay up late, sleep in, and react to each event of the day. I don't know what is going to happen next month, or next week, or tomorrow. When each day brings new announcements from government leaders, I can feel helpless to plan my day.

That is silly. Tomorrow I need to feed my children breakfast, and do laundry, and correct school work - regardless of the latest national news. My daily life is not affected by the news, at this point, except in my brain.

This in-limbo feeling was familiar to me from during Ed's treatment. I had learned then that I had to choose to make plans even when days felt uncertain.

So last month purposely considered our family routines. I assigned each day of the week to a child to help with meal planning and prep. I printed off a simple chart for the remaining school work so the children could see just how much they had to do these final weeks. We planned a simple church services to begin a new home-church routine. I forced myself to tackle projects like painting and sewing.

Four weeks later, we haven't kept our plans perfectly, but the fact that we had a plan, means that our days have flowed much better than they would have without a plan.

I'll be back with more of my goals. In the meantime, I'd love to hear how you are doing. Has quarantine brain been a problem for you? How have you pushed past it?


  1. Oh, Gina, this is so good! Thank you SO much for sharing. My hubby and I are empty-nesters and we do leave the house for several hours each day to go for walks and continuing to work at the task of clearing out my childhood home.

    Yet I struggle with getting anything extra done at all. I can pretty much keep up with laundry and basic (very basic) household tasks, and mostly do okay with getting meals. But I'm not accomplishing much of anything else, and on some days meals are a struggle.

    I had just reached the conclusion that I needed to review my priorities and start making a daily schedule again. For the past couple days I've done that and it is helping. Thanks so much for this encouraging post!

  2. My goal is to keep connected (mostly via phone) with my married children. I heard loneliness in their voices even though their quivers are full. They still need adult conversation. This week, I visited several woman who live alone, or are homebound with chronic illness. In trying to cheer others, I encouraged myself. I read a book on the Holocaust, and was reminded that our current trials are but a ripple in life. Choose to be thankful. Every Day!

  3. That's great to be able to look back and see that a routine worked :)

    No quarantine brain for me; in my own small world I'm enjoying the break from outside obligations and I've been doing more cleaning and organizing than I've done in years! We all know how satisfying that can be. My area doesn't have coronavirus (yet), and since we don't know what might come yet, and because I probably will start wishing for things to return to normal at some point, I'm feeling free to enjoy this time as much as can, right now.

  4. You are an encouragement, Gina. I've also struggled in the last month to focus, be motivated, and re-invent a routine to accommodate the changes to our lives. But controlling the things we can vs. mentally spinning about what we can't is so important.

  5. Thanks for this, Gina! So good to hear from you like this. The struggles are real, and I appreciate the example you give by facing it head on. Looking forward to your coming posts.

  6. Hi Gina! Quarantine brain is starting to affect me too. I try to concentrate on my sewing but I get distracted and can't concentrate. I'm making masks for people at church for when we get to meet again. I've started making child size masks today and only managed to get one and a half done. I say half because one is totally messed up and needs to be made all over again.
    Even though we can't meet in person at church, I decided to wear my Sunday dresses anyway, and watch our church live stream.

  7. I am in the UK, It certainly is a challenging time i have been at home for 35 years so it was not such a huge problem, but my husband had just retired from work due to ill health, so he has found it very hard, i have found helping him get into a routine, making sure we do our walk in the day, and all those outstanding jobs that have been meaning to get done...bless him he put a pond in last week which he so enjoyed it was something different. I know what you mean about the quarantine brain, but i am pushing past it and realise that if i keep busy the days are not too bad, and i am making sure they have a balance of work/craft/reading, and not focusing on the news helps, and i keep praying. Sue

  8. Sounds like I must be "normal". I totally get the lack of motivation... Why clean? No one is coming... Why sew? No where to go... Botched haircut? Big deal - our state is in lockdown until June 10, so I'm sure he'll need another one by then :-) Having no agenda outside the home appeals to my lazy/hermit tendencies, so I'm mostly enjoying it, but it makes me feel kinda selfish to be so thrilled about it.
    I have tried meal planning for the first time in my life and we have benefited from that... now I know what to thaw out in the morning and the family knows what to look forward to. I've also successfully mastered fabulously thick, creamy homemade greek yogurt; so a few positive things are surfacing. I have also loved slower mornings.
    Homeschooling my three oldest boys is fairly enjoyable and the boys love being able to spend more time on the farm. My preschoolers are the biggest challenge to my patience and sanity. I'm glad that most of the year is behind us or my first grader would suffer from my being unable to give him enough focused time.

  9. We are retired so, like you, our life hasn't really been disrupted. There are two big changes for us though... we can no longer visit our children and grandchildren, which is very distressing to us as we are used to seeing them several times a week. The second is that we had to cancel plans to visit our daughter and her family in Virginia to celebrate our grandson's birthday and that is breaking my heart. We have seven grandchildren, two of whom live in Virginia and we have never missed a birthday. Anyway, like you I really have no ambition to start new projects or finish ones that are started. I have, however, been sewing masks like crazy and reading. So, I guess that's something.

  10. Gina, and anyone else reading this: 25 years ago my husband and I adopted thee children out of the foster care system. They all have serious mental conditions that have led us to parent our 4 grandchildren since they were born. The oldest one just turned five and my daughter has decided to move out of state with them to one of the still heavily infected areas. She has also expressed a desire to limit our contact with them in the future. I bring this up in this context because we had just established steady routines with them after the loss of our church and homeschool co-op activities. We are praying, and would covet your prayers, that God will intervene, but if they leave now, I can at least be thankful that I have not squandered these last few weeks.

    1. Thanks, Helen, for sharing your heart burden with us. I will pray.


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