An ICU Nurse Shares Her Perspective on Family During the Pandemic
With so many things to be worried about, I want to share some gratitude. I know there are people out there who can’t pay their bills and don’t know how they’ll buy more food. I know there are people who have a spouse or child or parent dying in ICUs or EDs or even sitting in hospitals with no way to see them or get much info about how they’re doing day after day. There are people dying, alone, with only strangers around them in hospitals. So the Baker’s family is beyond blessed already. But we are feeling even more grateful for the opportunity to spend every single day as a family!
Only a few months ago we were literally drowning in scheduled stuff: three days of work for me, two days of work for Laurie, Lisa’s school five days per week, Carey’s school three days per week and ranch program once per week, horseback riding twice per week, piano once per week, Lisa’s therapist once per week, Carey’s therapist once per week, our adult therapist once per week, Carey’s art class, Lisa’s art class. And two babies who screamed in the car until they were sweating and hoarse. We rarely ate dinners together anymore, we rarely went on family walks together anymore. Grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking were an after thought. No one was very happy, even though ALL of these activities are wonderful with wonderful people. We just couldn’t keep up.
Our days now are still busy, even with JUST Laurie and I still working, Lisa does piano lessons virtually and a zoom meeting with her class each morning, and reading tutoring virutally twice per week. So I don’t know how we EVER did all of the stuff above: no wonder we were losing our minds!
Now our family has found a new natural rhythm. Our kids sleep until they wake up naturally, around 9 am. The girls do their academic-type work until about 11-12 pm. This consists of a few writing, reading, math, or science exercises each. Sometimes we do a science experiment together. Then the girls spend a little time doing their online learning, which is really fun games on their ipads that involve reading, writing, and math. The rest of the day, they get a lot of free time which they often spend doing Minecraft, Roblox, or watching YouTube. But they also play on the trampoline together. If they are turning into zombies we turn off the screens and they do imaginative play together or wrestle with one another.
We take a walk or go on an “adventure” as a family every day. Both girls ride bikes or roller skates or scooters. A few times per week the girls help with practical activities, like baking or grocery shopping. They also do a lot more cleaning up or chore helping, like unloading the dishwasher, putting away groceries, taking out trash, etc. Also keeping their rooms clean! They are really growing in this way!
The boys are much happier with only a short car ride every few days. They like long naps in our bed, and need a lot of napping. Hours of crying in the car was taking its toll on Laurie and I. So much easier to put them down for a nap where they want to be! They are sitting a little now, we have two high chairs they sit in a bit, and Adrian is stuffing his mouth with baby wafers. (Joey isn’t interested yet.)
And us moms? I’m finishing my second week straight of working out every day. There’s at least a little time to pick up and finish dishes and keep the laundry going. We watch some news. We love having dinner as a family most nights, and I like being able to cook a few times per week. We love that we now play board games and card games with our girls in the evening after the boys are in bed. The girls are not just sisters now, they are often best friends. We love seeing the closeness of all four siblings really blossoming now. Life with four kids is still chaotic and messy every day, but it’s now a lot more manageable. And enjoyable.
We would love to be able to travel this summer and make up our cancelled trip to Legoland. We would love to be able to go swimming, visit beaches and forests, and go to our favorite events and festivals again. But go back to the former schedule? NO THANK YOU. It was killing us all, draining our spirits, and robbing us of the best part of life: EACH OTHER.