Concluding my little three-part Ps and Q in Review 2020 wrap-up, today I’m going to talk about the element that ties it all together: quarantine.
And by “quarantine,” of course, I don’t mean it in its strictest terms, though there were times along the way where we have lived by its strictest terms. For example, several weeks ago when Erin found out she had been in proximity of someone who tested positive for COVID, we did follow pretty solid quarantine guidelines as a family to make sure to do our part to limit the spread.
For the most part, though, by quarantine, what I mean is the severely limited existence we’ve all had to work with in the past year. I know it’s something that different people have approached differently, and that is part of the reason why we’re still dealing with this level of COVID spread today. We have certainly not been perfect, but we have tried very hard to be as careful as we could, both for our own safety and the safety of those around us.
In the first couple of months, we almost never left the house, and I made solo grocery runs once every week or two. Over time, as more information about the virus and proper safety protocols came to light, we expanded the circle a little bit. When we found out the primary driver of transmission was airborne rather than on surfaces, we slowly did things like playgrounds again, but not without religious mask wearing.
Looking back on it all, the first few months were extra strict because there was so much we didn’t know, then we loosened up every so slightly as our understanding grew and cases were low and steady in the summertime, and we’ve gotten stricter again in the fall and winter since the case level has spiked. We’ve kept the kids in at-home learning and probably will continue to for the foreseeable future.
For parents everywhere, surviving and maintaining any kind of sanity in whatever quarantine looks like for them has been extremely difficult. There is the loneliness, disconnectedness and relentless routine, mixed in with the pressure cooker of keeping kids entertained and not going crazy ourselves.
So here are a few thoughts and perspectives on quarantine that I’ve picked up in the past year.
- Outside is IN. One saving grace for us has been trying to do as many outdoor activities as we safely can. Understand, we are not of the opinion that just being outside is a silver bullet. If we go to a playground, for example, and anyone else is there, we mask up. Hand sanitizer is ever present. But at least being outside allows a greater level of safety than indoor activities and lets us get out of the house.And also, being outside is good for the body and soul. We love living in Colorado and certainly are fortunate to be able to soak in views of the mountains and take fantastic hikes. Just yesterday, we took a family hike at Red Rocks, and it was a blast. We wore masks whenever anyone else was in sight, got some good exercise and sunshine, and all of us had a wonderful time together.
I’ve lived in enough places to know that no matter where you are, everyplace has its beautiful places, and now more than ever it’s important to take advantage of them. Even if it’s cold outside, put on a coat and hat and at least get in a nice walk with all the fresh air and sunshine that comes with it. It’s a restorative activity and has been a godsend for us.
- Travel in the imagi-NATION. In the original Miracle on 34th Street, there is a scene where Santa Claus explains that make believe is a place, like the French nation or the American nation, there is also the Imagi-Nation. Well, I’m with questionably stable Santa on this one. Especially with little ones, as we have, make believe play was absolutely essential to surviving this year. We have an enormous stack of boxes that became spaceships, cars, and even a puppet theater. We had lots of play adventures with the kids, and they had lots of their own adventures together.As a somewhat creative type who spent much of his childhood in imaginary play, I’m a big proponent of this kind of thing anyway, but it struck me as being extra important in times like these. It helps flex kids’ creative muscles and gives them something to hold onto to during these difficult and grim times. In the same vein, we also encourage the kids to draw and express themselves in all different ways, because that also helps them process the times we’re going through.
Of course, escapism is just that. It’s an escape, and it’s temporary. It is not a replacement for reality, and as I mentioned in previous posts, it’s important to also be honest about the true nature of things with our kids. But the realm of the Imagi-Nation helps serve as a counterweight to that and offers a release valve to kids and grown ups alike.
- Remember, remember, this is not forever. Finally, a simple and yet difficult to digest point. As crappy and difficult as quarantine is, it is not forever. This too shall pass and we’ll go back to a more connected life. I say this because it’s easy to focus on all the missed events and all the things we weren’t able to do in the past year. We were supposed to go to Hawaii in March, and to the Smoky Mountains in July. None of that got to happen, and it stinks.All of us had events and plans and other things melt away. But as lousy as that is, it’s important to remember it’ll all still be there on the other end. We will still be able to do those things. But in order for that to happen, we first have to get through this time right now, and get through it safe and healthy. For us, the sacrifices are worth it. The precautions are hard, but if they keep us and our loved ones safe, they will have been worth it.
So those are my three cents on quarantine. It’s getting late on New Year’s Eve as I write this, so I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone for reading, and wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2021.