Posted in Health and Fitness, Keeping your sanity, Parenting

Sanitize Everything!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all aspects of life globally. Everything. It has affected us in different ways, perhaps, but one thing we all have in common is that we have felt the change, to be sure. I try to look for little silver linings in everything that affects me. It helps me to stay positive and focused on the good, not the bad. One positive aspect of this new way of life in my own pandemic experience is cleanliness. I am a bit of a clean freak, I’ll admit, especially before having children. I have three children now, so things aren’t always going to stay perfectly clean all the time — that’s impossible, and I’ve made peace with that. But, the novel virus, and the fact that two members of my beloved household suffer from asthma and are therefore high-risk, have allowed my inner clean freak to break forth and shine! While it does raise my anxiety a bit to have to be so extra cautious not to allow the virus enter my house, it is extremely important. My answer to this? Sanitize everything that comes in. Yes, everything.

I watched a video by Dr. Jeffery VanWingen on how to unpack groceries. In it, he has you imagine that everything you bring in has glitter on it, and you need to avoid spreading that glitter around your house at all costs. We all know how glitter gets on everything, right?! The thought of this virus being like glitter is a little alarming. So, here is what I do to help keep that “glitter” out of my house.

1. Groceries. When one of us comes back from the store, we take a disinfecting wipe or disinfecting spray and wipe down all of the items that come in before we put them away. (My fridge smells like Lysol, by the way.) I spray fresh produce with vinegar and let it sit then rinse it before I put it away. I know there is the worry about produce going bad more quickly by doing that, but if you can get them dry before they go back into the fridge they ought to be ok. We’ve not had a problem. Also, we put the paper bags in our recycling and then sanitize the floor they were sitting on. **Don’t have disinfecting spray? You can put bleach water in a heavy-duty spray bottle and use it (remember: it’s still bleach, so be careful and wear cleaning gloves!) or use vinegar in a spray bottle and let it sit about 10 minutes.

2. Bottoms of our shoes. When I come in from having gone to the store, I spray the bottoms of my shoes with disinfecting spray and then take them off. There are all kinds of nasty things you can carry into your house from the bottoms of your shoes. We live around geese, too, so it gets a little gross when you think about it! Sanitize those shoe bottoms.

3. Wash hands. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but wash your hands obsessively, especially when coming in from being out. Try not to touch your face.

4. Inside of car. Because my husband doesn’t wear gloves when going out, I disinfect the inside of the car when he gets home. I know that he is constantly disinfecting his hands when he must go out, but it never hurts just to make sure everything that gets touched in the car is sanitized as well.

5. Deliveries and mail. All deliveries and mail get sanitized when coming in. I spray down the box or envelope, get out the item I’ve ordered or that came in, sanitize the item, recycle the packaging, sanitize the floor, then sanitize the scissors. It’s definitely a lot more work, and yep, it’s a bit obnoxious, but I do it to ensure we are not spreading anything around the house unknowingly. Mail no longer gets put on a table. It goes on the floor or in a box.

6. Everything you can touch in the house. Ok, yes I know this is a catch-all, but it’s equally important. I will do random trips around the house sanitizing controls, light switches, door knobs, banisters, handles, everything. When I bleach bathrooms, I also wipe down the walls with bleach. (Check a small area first before you do this!!! I’ve had great luck with Behr eggshell finishes doing well against being wiped by bleach water.)

I know that I sound a bit obsessive, but it’s more than just about protecting my high-risk loved ones at home, it’s about protecting my neighbors and those I’m around as well. We will get through this. We will get to fully enjoy life again. In the meantime, let’s protect as many people as we possibly can, so we all can see each other on the other side of this pandemic. Sanitize everything. Wash your hands. And know that you are being someone’s guardian angel.

Posted in Health and Fitness, Keeping your sanity, Parenting, Working Parent

Picking My Life Back Up One Step at a Time

Unknowns. Leaving without Goodbyes. Cancelled Work. Isolation. Empty Shelves. Rationing. Depression. Parenting. Practicing. Moving Forward.

Corona virus (COVID-19) has left its mark on my house, as it has for millions of households around the world. I attended my last live performance right before our state was to go in a quasi-isolation, schools and universities closed. Life upended. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my students, one of whom this semester was our last together. We picked up and left, Skype our only means of seeing each other and teaching. I was devastated. I love my job, and I love my students. This was a tough transition for me, not only for its abruptness, but also for the lack of live human interaction, of laughing, playing together, just being. And when all my performance work was cancelled and my lost income mounting, I only too easily slipped into a world of dark cloudy days, wondering when (if?) the fog and dreariness would lift. Was I facing depression?

Parenting during this time of strain and uncertainty has also taken its toll. The strain of seeing empty grocery shelves and wondering how long food will be this scarce and having to ration food in the house is real and unnerving. The realization of lost income is scary. And when parents are stressed, kids can feel it. They get stressed too. During times like these, “cabin fever” also takes on a whole new meaning. They are even advised not to go on playgrounds! Kids act out when they are stressed. I felt like my neat little world was unraveling!

I had to take action. I had to pick up the pieces of what work was left to me, my teaching, and I had to get control over my own emotions, so I can still be the teacher and the parent that I want to be. If for no other reason, than to model how to be for my children in times of global stress. I made myself keep practicing. Knowing the positive effects of endorphins and sunshine, I forced myself to keep exercising and to get outside in my yard as much as possible. I have my kids go outside as much as possible. When they ask to play in the rain, I let them play in rain. Why not? Outside time is crucial for mental and physical well-being, and they need to get that extra energy out. The forced isolation has also given us plenty of opportunities (more than plenty!) to teach my children how to communicate effectively and politely to each other — how to best solve differences with each other. And you know what? It’s working. We have far fewer arguments as they are learning to compromise and solve problems together. The next thing we are working on pitching in a bit more around the house, since we are all always home and all contributing to the mess. We’re getting there… baby steps. As we have been through a few successful days of online teaching and gaining some control of our schedules back, I feel less uneasy and unsure, and the children are more themselves again.

I feel like I went through a kind of grief cycle. I was paying attention to the news, of course, and naturally I knew it would eventually effect us in the U.S. at some point, but the magnitude and the scope of the pandemic was overwhelming. I wanted to fight against having to leave the university, but there was no choice. I wanted to fight against home-schooling while schools are closed, but there was no choice. I wanted to believe that there would still be food on the shelves when I went to the store to pick up some regular groceries, but there was none. (Well, there was still some frozen okra.) I wanted to cry, but what would it help? By putting one foot in front other the other, so to speak, I slowly walked myself out of my slump and got on with life: keeping up with my practicing, keeping up with my exercising, keeping up with teaching to my best ability, keeping up with good parenting. Just as we all do. Just as we all have to. Baby steps.