Most of you know me around here as Tsh’s assistant. I have written the occasional essay for The Art of Simple, but mostly I’m her behind-the-scenes advocate (and friend!). When this assignment to write A Day in the Life (in the Time of the Coronavirus) was given to her writing team, I just picked a random day a few weeks ahead on the calendar, not really knowing what was going to happen that day. But really, do any of us know what’s going to happen from day to day these days? Events sometimes change by the hour.
It’s Monday, April 20, 2020 in the time of the coronavirus.
To give you some context: I work from home in Lemont, Illinois as Tsh’s assistant (as well as a few other virtual assistant opportunities). I’m married to Greg and we have four kids, all of whom are currently teenagers.
Greg is considered an essential worker as a commodities broker at the Chicago Board of Trade and goes to work Monday through Friday, like before. His day-to-day life didn’t change that much, except for maybe his workload. The rest of us have had to make some adjustments, and for the most part, I think we are doing okay.
4:10 a.m. – I wake up before my alarm and it feels like I’ve been asleep for only a few minutes. Another restless night, which is normal these days.
4:15 – My Fitbit alarm vibrates, reminding me to take my thyroid medicine. Greg gets up and gets ready for work (usually without an alarm, he has become used to this wake-up time over the years). His company has an A-team and a B-team. B-team works from home. A-team works in the office. He’s on the A-team. His office building is in downtown Chicago and there have been 5 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in his office building, none on his floor or office.
4:25 – Greg gives me a kiss and then leaves for work. I stumble out of bed to use the bathroom, then lay back in bed for a few hours and fall in and out of sleep.
6:30 – My iPhone alarm goes off. It’s the alarm I have set to wake up during the school year but I haven’t turned it off since the stay-at-home order started because it helps me distinguish the days and not think of these days as “vacation” or “summer break.” Some days are harder than others to get going. Today is one of those days. My body is fatigued and I’m experiencing some pain from my autoimmune disease.
7:00 – I get up, do some stretches, wash my face and get dressed for the day.
7:15 – I head downstairs and prepare my breakfast and (decaf) French press coffee. Breakfast is old-fashioned oats with almond butter and topped with fresh blueberries.
7:30 – While I eat, I read and journal. I relish in the quiet. During the school year, the house is normally empty at this time (minus my college-age son who usually leaves at 8:45 for work) but with the stay-at-home order, all the kids are still asleep.
8:20 – I quickly scroll through my email on my phone to see if there’s anything urgent for work and then since it’s a Monday, I write out my workweek calendar in my bullet journal.
8:30 – Clean up my dishes and start a load of laundry. All of our kids do their own laundry, but today I see a pile of clothes on my daughter’s floor and toss them in with mine to make a full load.
9:00 – I open my laptop, check my work email, Tsh’s calendar and email, and open up Slack. The tabs I keep open on my laptop during my work day: my personal email, work email, Google calendar & Drive, Slack, and TshOxenreider.com.
9:11 – Time check. My house is still quiet except for the washing machine and that’s a problem. Eden has Google Meets with three of her 7th grade teachers starting at 9:30 in Math, Social Studies, and Advisory. Motivation for online school has been difficult for us. The first few weeks, we were gung-ho! But now that we’re into Day 38, the motivation has been lacking. Hitting the snooze button or not even setting an alarm has unfortunately become a habit.
Last Friday, our governor announced that in-school learning would be cancelled for the rest of the school year. That means we have 5 more weeks of e-learning. These Google Meets aren’t mandatory but I’ve been encouraging my kids to attend them. The teachers miss them and they are working so hard, making time for them, etc.
In parenting, and especially parenting during a quarantine—you choose your battles. I’ll admit, my battle cries have decreased these days. Cake for lunch? Okay. Watch a show while I eat lunch? Okay. But the battle I’m not compromising on is choosing to show up for your teachers. Time for a battle cry to wake her up!
9:50 – I switch out the laundry and check in on Stone (high school freshman) who’s supposed to be up for a Google Meet. I change out of my sweatshirt into a short-sleeve shirt, it’s going to be 60 degrees today (or it’s just a hot flash)! That’s shorts weather for most of my kids. Hard to believe that three days ago we had three inches of snow on the ground.
10:15 – Stone is awake and starting his e-learning. I make my mid-morning smoothie snack: frozen strawberries, frozen banana, a spoonful each of ground flaxseed, coconut oil and almond butter, and a scoop of chocolate protein powder and blend with coconut milk & a few ice cubes.
10:24 – I sit back down at my computer to answer a few new emails and reply to a few Slack messages.
10:27 – Tygar (high school senior) is awake and eats breakfast and starts his e-learning.
I should point out that our school districts have provided Chromebooks for their students, otherwise this e-learning would be challenging for us with having to share one computer for three students and my work.
10:50 – My Fitbit vibrates with a reminder to move but I’m trying to help Eden figure out something for one of her science assignments.
11:05 – I put chicken breasts in the crock-pot and cover it with salsa for an easy dinner.
11:25 – I go to the bathroom and decide after looking in the mirror that now was a good time for eyebrow maintenance. While I’m trimming and plucking, I hear some banging outside. Tygar is outside digging up a tree trunk. Apparently he only had a few e-learning assignments today so he decided to do yard work. My birthday was a few weeks ago, and for my birthday, the kids gave me a gift of spring cleaning our yard. Digging up that tree trunk was on Tygar’s to-do list.
11:36 – I am back to my computer. A quick scroll through Facebook, I notice a friend’s mother has passed away from complications due to the coronavirus. The reality of this virus sinks in a little bit more.
11:38 – Eden needed a break from her schoolwork so we play a game of Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza.
12:01 p.m. – I walk outside to see how Tygar is doing with the yard work. He has started a fire in the fire pit with all the sticks they have cleaned up from the yard the past few days.
12:07 – Stone has finished e-learning for the day. Eden and Stone are making their lunch.
12:21 – Gunnar is up (sophomore in college). We catch up on his shift from work last night. He works for a restaurant and they still offer carryout and delivery. Sometimes he delivers but last night he worked the expo line, where he arranges the food into the carryout containers.
12:24 – I text a friend to see if I have the correct address for mailing a card to my friend who’s mother passed away. I make the card from some blank stationary that I have on hand and use a printed photo from one of my Instagram pictures. I take my time to write the card. I cannot even imagine the grief she’s feeling.
12:40 – I make my lunch which consists of leftover chicken and rice, a salad, and a clementine. I want to eat outside but it’s a little windy and not up to 60 degrees yet so instead I sit inside and watch the latest episode of Some Good News.
12:51 – Stone wants to bake a cake. We have all the ingredients in the pantry from a previous grocery run.
12:53 – Eden is in the yard now, spring cleaning the mulch beds.
1:10 – I finish my lunch and clean up my dishes. Gunnar runs to the store for us to pick up some groceries.
1:30 – This is the time of day where my 4 a.m. wake-up starts to hit me so I grab a book and head upstairs to rest and read for a bit. I’m currently reading The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall.
2:02 – Greg arrives home. He fills me in on (his exact words) “the craziest day of market in the history of markets.” Crude oil prices in the negatives! Crazy! (Here’s an article where you can read more about it). After a few minutes of decompressing from his day, he goes outside to inspect the stump removal process and I get up from my time of rest. I was able to finish a few chapters in my book.
2:15 – I run the dryer to get the wrinkles out of the clothes that I put in the dryer four hours ago.
2:21 – Gunnar is back. It took him a while but it turns out he went to the bank, gas station, and then to the grocery store.
The house smells like a mixture of cake and salsa. It’s odd, but comforting.
2:37 – An afternoon email check which consists mostly of updates from the kids’ teachers.
2:40 – My daily walk with Greg. There are some days where moving my body is the last thing I feel like doing either from pain or fatigue, but Greg and I have started walking every day. Sometimes it’s just around the block, but if the temperature is between 20 to 85 degrees, we’ll walk.
3:00 – We’re back from our walk and I finally fold and put away our clothes.
3:10 – I join Greg outside on our patio as he sips a glass of bourbon. He’s chatting with Eden and Gunnar about the possibility of going to Asheville, NC (we own a house there that we’re in the process of remodeling/fixing up) soon. Now that school is e-learning for the rest of the year, we can take this opportunity to go to Asheville and work on the house.
3:20 – My parents sent a text to check in and sent a video of a trick that they taught their puppy. They live in Asheville, which is another reason we’d like to go, to be able to check-in on them, drop off groceries, etc.
3:30 – I come inside to grab a snack and make my afternoon coffee, iced this time. Stone has emerged from the basement where he has been playing Minecraft with a friend. He decorates his cake with store-bought marshmallow fluff icing and rainbow sprinkles. Gunnar and Tygar warm up pizza-ronis in the toaster oven.
3:40 – Now the house smells like salsa-cake-pizza. Still a comforting smell? Maybe.
3:43 – “Alexa, play ’80s music.”
3:50 – A final work email check before I close my computer for the day. I respond to the two new ones that came in and leave a Slack message for help with one. A final check of Tsh’s email, nothing urgent.
4:05 – Eden, Stone, and myself learn how to play a game called King’s Corner. We normally play Rummy or Gin Rummy but we have been trying to learn some new-to-us card games.
4:47 – The salsa chicken is done. I shred it using two forks and keep it in the crock-pot to stay warm until dinner.
4:54 – I receive a group text message from a daughter of one of my dear friends who’s planning a video montage as a surprise for her mom’s 60th birthday in a few weeks. She’s asking for us to send in a 30-second video clip wishing her a Happy Birthday.
5:35 – Dinner is ready. We serve the salsa chicken with a bunch of fixings and wrap them in corn tortillas or serve it over rice.
5:36 – This rarely happens, but Greg has to be on work calls with some clients because of the crazy markets today. His computer is in the front room which is connected to our dining room so the rest of us eat dinner in silence. I guess we could have moved to a different part of the house to eat dinner so we wouldn’t disturb him, but no one mentioned it. We just enjoyed our dinner and listened to him problem-solve with his clients.
6:04 – We clean up after dinner and I see a Slack message pop on my iPhone up for a job I need to do for tomorrow’s podcast. Just a quick copy and paste with a few edits of the transcript.
6:20 – Greg is still on work calls which I know he hates. He doesn’t like to bring his work home with him but today was an unusual (and historic!) day so there was no getting around this. The rest of us have scattered around the house doing our own thing.
I decide to take a shower. It has been a few days…
7:00 – Greg’s calls are finished so we gather in the living room to watch an episode of The Chosen.
7:25 – When we switched off The Chosen, the TV channel was playing US Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes and Robert Downey, Jr. so we started watching it. It was halfway through the movie but we couldn’t stop watching. The kids were shocked at how young Iron Man looked.
8:10 – Because Greg and I wake up early, we usually go to bed early. We say good night to the kids.
8:20 – Greg and I pray together then kiss each other good night. I read a little of my book before my eyes get too heavy and drift off to sleep with the faint scent of salsa-cake-pizza in the air. It’s definitely comforting.