Sheltering at home…with 5 kids

A few weeks ago, I was deep in preparation for an opera, which around here means lots of late nights and early mornings. We are all still adjusting to my new schedule, which means I’m home a lot more some weeks, and then I am completely absent in others. The kids understand pretty well, and we revel in our time together when we can.

Friday night was supposed to be opening night, but instead was a last minute recorded performance with a skeleton audience of board members and supporters. It was a frantic transition, and had me gone even more than I normally would be as we went into performance. And then, suddenly, it was over and I was home… For a while it seems.

As we desperately tried to solve problems at work, adjust to working at home with FIVE adults and five kids, and stock up on groceries and art supplies, we got exhausted quickly. The first day of kids home was insanity. The second day was only a slight improvement. Today, day three, was tough for all of us but productive. we are figuring out what the next few weeks are going to look like, and are discovering a silver lining. Don’t get me wrong! The economy is tanking, we had to disappoint a lot of people at work, the kids have been disappointed and frustrated to lose out on school and birthday celebrations. At the same time, for parents who are super busy and never feel like there’s enough time with the kids, we are seeing a lot more of them. I am sure I will be saying that while rolling my eyes in a few weeks, but right now it’s a huge comfort. Celebrating victories, piano recitals for the family, seeing them understand their math homework or help one another with spelling is pretty cool.

With one change comes many. Our household Swiss teacher is hightailing it back to his family tomorrow. Brayan was unplanned, unexpected and unbelievable. he injected some calm and humor into our household, and the kids loved him to pieces. We’re all sad to see him go, even though we understand he needs to be with his family. It’s funny how we can go from strangers to family in such a short period of time.

In case this sounds peaceful and idyllic, let me assure you our house has screaming and running children in every square inch of it. I feel like we are yelling all the time, and no amount of bike rides or jumping on the trampoline can get some of this energy out of them. But I can see to a place where we have all adjusted to our new normal, it’s going to be OK. More importantly, just when we get used to it it will be over. We will tentatively creep out of our houses, start to see people again face-to-face, and set up play dates. In point of fact, I feel like every time I look for normal, something changes. Why would this be any different? So let’s make a decision to make peace with this new reality. No one wants to get sick, and no one wants to get other people sick. But there’s nothing that says we can’t enjoy the upsides while staying safe.