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As we HURTLE towards month 3 of quarantine (this is a real sentence I just typed) the only thing that is matching the face mask meme level is the homeschooling jokes parents are making across the social medias. Which we totally get, it IS tough. But with school year canceled, and camp canceled, and who knows what else canceled …. we thought, it may not be a bad idea to check in with the kids too. HOW ARE THE KIDS DOING DURING QUARANTINE? Below, we chatted to a few (candid) families (with kids ranging in age from few months to midle-schoolers, from only kids to those handling twins etc) and interviewed not only parents but the kids too (well, not the few months old one, but we started with the 4 year olds)

Everyone got asked the same questions (parents and kids):

  • What are the best and worst things about this?
  • What does your day look like usually?
  • What is different and what is the same?
  • Have you discovered anything new that you like to do?
  • What’s been your favorite activity?

And the answers were real, funny, frustrated and, above all, human.

Lets dig in.

Anamaria, Nemanja, Analena & Zoe (7 year old twins)

(New Yorkers, quaranteening in the Catskills)

What are the best and worst things about this?

Analena: Best: Got my own computer. Getting to be with my parents and my sister. Worst: Because I can’t see how the popcorn is made. Ms Giraldo (her teacher) said we can see it and now I won’t have that science class.

Zoe: Best: Sleeping in, don’t need to run to school in the morning Worst: I can’t have playdates!

Nemanja: Best: We are all together all the time. Since we both work full time, we don’t spend this much time together ever except when on vacation. Worst: When it’s 6pm and you realize you still didn’t wash your teeth

Anamaria: Best: Being home with the family. I work in finance and have quite long hours, so being home has been delightful! Also, I haven’t put on real clothes for 48 days and counting… Also, typically I am flying once a week somewhere, daily trips to Boston, Chicago are a normal occurrence and the fact that I haven’t seen Newark Airport at 5:30AM in more than a month is pure happiness!

Worst: I adore NYC. For the last 17 years since I’ve moved to NYC, I haven’t been away from
the city for more than 2 weeks. This is the longest I’ve been away and I am missing it bad. It’s not everyone, but I thrive so much when I am there and still can’t believe my crazy luck that I get to call it home, that my kids are born and raised there, that I got married there and essentially everything that is important happened in the city. I have these day dreams on how it will look the first day we are back… I can’t wait! Also,  I worry. About the people who lost their jobs, the kids who are hungry, the kids who are not getting the education or escape from the life by being in the school, my parents and parents in law getting ill.

What does your day look like usually?

Analena: Wake up, get dressed, dress up my bed, decorate my computer, get on Zoom, pause to eat lunch, play all afternoon, remind Mommy to do my exit slip, have dinner, watch Harry Potter, brush my teeth, sleep for 10 hours

Zoe: Wake up, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, straight to my computer. Go through my schedule, eat lunch, and then finish my homework. When mommy is done and daddy is done we can watch Harry Potter movies.

Anamaria: Wake up – coffee! Then: Figure out the school’s daily program and my calls/meetings. If it’s crazy busy not even change from pj’s just dive into work. Have more coffee. Then, if lucky – squeeze in an hour of pilates. Proceed to juggle my work/my Zoom conferences/kids Zoom conferences……..

Crap! It’s noon and the children need to be fed. Make lunch – I’ve been cooking daily! We eat lunch all together – wonderful difference from what typically my lunches look like! ALSO: Someone is pooping while I am on a conference call without a fail.

In the afternoon juggle my work, figure out if they’ve completed their daily tasks and push forward to make sure everything is correct and they read enough and understand math… 6pm – crap what’s for dinner?! Then…cook and eat dinner together! My favorite part of the day – bedtime routine – bath time with the girls with crazy laughs then reading.

Then…come down and either finish work because it’s finally quiet and i can read/ think/ write …. or have a drink with the husband

Nemanja: Wake up 8’ish. Breakfast 9’ish for the kids and me. 9-12pm work’ish. Noon’ish lunch. Debating if it’s too early to have an aperitivo. Walk by dumbell and pretend to work out for 60 seconds. Check for 87th time if the amazon package is out for delivery. Play with the kids to let the wife work, set up piano class, coding class for the girls. Eat dinner altogether. Aperitivo while the wife puts the kids to bed.

What is different and what is the same?

Analena: Same: still use paper for school. Different: I am by myself on a laptop, but in the school I am with my friends

Zoe: Different: We stay in my house all day, we are not going anywhere. Same: I still have to work and don’t get to play the whole time.

Nemanja: Lets see… what’s different?

  • I haven’t done anything with my hair for more than 30+ days.
  • Usually I prepare all meals for the kids, but since we are all home we are enjoying many of Anamaria’s hidden talents, including cooking.
  • Didn’t put on a dress shirt for 30+ days
  • Our apartment looks like a small IT shop

Anamaria: What is the same? still not wearing make up and still working a lot, for which I am grateful for! What’s different:  I get to spend significantly more time with the girls and Nemanja… but that also means the girls see how much I work – when they are in the school they don’t have the actual visual of me working.Having to say no to them and that I can’t play or explain why Lord Voldemort can’t kill Harry Potter for the 457th time because I need to focus on work. ALSO: I cook every day.

Have you discovered anything new that you like to do?

Analena: I like being in my bed to read

Zoe: I like SplashLearn.com (math activity)

Anamaria: I’ve discovered “broil” function and make ridiculously good salmon. And it takes 6 mins start to finish!

What’s been your favorite activity?

Analena: Walking to nearby farm to pet black pony

Zoe: Hang out with mommy and daddy

Nemanja: Completed all puzzles we own multiple times

Anamaria: I get to kiss/squeeze/cuddle with the girls all day long, sometimes it’s a quick kiss, other times it’s a good long delicious hug. I will miss that!

******

Nevin and Zephyr (7), Washington D.C.

Also at home: Mom. Nevin is a food writer and cookbook author

What are the best and worst things about this?
Zephyr: The best thing is I get to spend more time with my parents. The worst thing? I want to play with my friends, but I can’t. It makes me sad.
Nevin: I appreciate the intense pause to life, which has allowed me to be with my family in a way that doesn’t usually happen for anyone in the modern world. The big downside is the general death of food and travel writing (aka my career) at least in the short-term. I’m not sure what the other side of this thing looks like, but I’m pretty sure my work will be completely different.
What does your day look like usually?
Zephyr: I wake up, but don’t want to get up. But I have to because my mom tickles me. Breakfast. Zoom. I don’t like them when I don’t get called on my the teachers. I was clearly raising my hand. Schoolwork. Another Zoom. Snack. Listen to a story. Lunch. More work. A hike with my Poppa. We look for frogs, woodpeckers, and turtles. I’ll beat him in some races. We climb things. Sometimes we bike. Dinner. On weekends we watch a movie at night.
Nevin: Generally, I spend the morning and early afternoon working, the mid-afternoon hiking with Zephyr, and my evening is focused on cooking and the epic bedtime routine.
What’s different and what’s the same?
Zephyr: I have a schedule like school, but it all happens differently. Like, my mom is my teacher now. It’s also different because now I have to Zoom with people instead of just being there in person to hear them talk. I don’t get to play with them in person, which I prefer.
Nevin: You know how people often tell you before you become a parent that everything will change as soon as you have a kid and you don’t really believe them, but then you have a kid and everything really does change? This is like that, except you didn’t make the decision to have your life changed so completely.
Have you discovered anything new you like to do?
Zephyr: Eating marshmallows for snack!
Nevin: Not to sound like a quarantine hipster, but I’ve been really enjoying learning how to make bread.
What’s been your favorite activity?
Zephyr: Going to Rock Creek Park to find wildlife and eat the Mike and Ikes mom gives me to snack on.
Nevin: Agreed. Our hikes in the park are the best. I just wish Zephyr would share some of his Mike and Ikes.
******

Karl, Alison & Emerson (11), Old Greenbelt, MD

Emerson is a 5th grader in Prince George’s County Public Schools. Karl is a stay at home parent and yoga instructor. Alison is a full-time blogger, writer, and influencer. Also in the household: dog, Oscar.

What are the best and worst things about this? 

Emerson: The best thing about this is that I don’t have to wake up at a certain time in the morning. The worst thing is that I’m not able to see my friends and I miss them so much.

Karl: The best thing is being able to spend quality time with family.  The worst part is the anxiety over people getting sick.

Alison: The best thing is more family time.  Like most tweens, our daughter’s schedule was packed with sports, clubs, activities, and playdates. I would head to the gym every morning, usually before she woke and would get back just in time to take her to school.  Some days I wouldn’t see her because I wouldn’t get home from an event until after she had gone to bed.  Karl and I would be racing around and often not have any time to catch up until after Emerson went to sleep.  Now our time together is more plentiful and therefore more relaxed, no need to try to cram QT into every moment, we can just be.  It’s funny, we relied on these dry-erase calendars in our kitchen to manage our days; now the calendar just is a grocery list we keep adding to for when we’re at the point we need to venture out for provisions. The worst thing is seeing how much Emerson misses her friends.    While she will FaceTime and Google Hangout some of them and play video games with them, it’s not the same and she gets lonely.  I don’t love her being on devices so much, but it’s the only way to stay connected now.

What does your day look like usually?

Emerson: I usually wake up around 7 am, eat breakfast, and then I start online school at 9 am. Then after school, I hang out with my friends online. I play video games with them and face time my friends. My parents make me exercise every day. For my exercise, I ride the peloton for about 20 minutes or do jumping jacks. Monday, I have piano lessons, I face time my piano teacher for that. My Girl Scouts is now on Zoom. My dad is really into watching family movies so we watch movies together almost every night. Then I go to bed at 9 pm.

Alison: I still set my alarm for 6am but instead of going to the gym I head to the living room for my workout. The rest of the family gets up an hour or so later for breakfast, then we all get ready for the day and head to our different activities.  Emerson does online school through our County; it starts at 9am and she does it from her room.  My husband and I have relatively the same at-home schedule as before, except we take turns with schoolwork. I try to take a lunch break so we can have a moment all together in the middle of the day. I try to be finished with work before dinner so we can eat together and maybe watch a movie.  Since she was an infant I’ve been the one to put Emerson to bed, though at this age it’s just sitting on the side of the tub listening to her talk about her day as she washes her face.  Even though we spent the entire day together, we still enjoy this recap time. Before sheltering in place, Karl and I would stay up at least an hour watching TV and hanging out together but lately, we both often feel just too exhausted and go to bed soon after Emerson.

Karl: I wake up around 7:30, let the dog out and make the family breakfast. Then I get in a meditation before I start the day. I do the cooking, the home repairs, the cleaning, and laundry. I also have several large garden plots at our community garden and this time of year I am spending a couple of hours there every day. For years I’ve ridden my bike daily, either outside or on a trainer indoors.  Now it’s a daily ride on the Peloton. I make sure the family eats dinner together and we get in some family time, sometimes with an activity but usually it’s a movie we will all enjoy. After Emerson goes to bed Alison and I usually catch up on one of our shows that isn’t kid-friendly.

What’s different and what’s the same?

Emerson: What’s different is that I have to help around the house even more than before, and what’s the same is that it’s basically the same as our weekends before quarantine.

Karl: My life isn’t that different because I was already home during the day.  But there is way more laundry, way more cleaning, way more everything with everyone home all the time.  We had years of a school drop off and pickup routine and activity schedule and that is over.  I did have to cancel all my yoga classes and miss connecting with my students.

Alison: What’s different is the activity schedule.  School pickup and dropoff, Girl Scouts, piano lessons, karate, playdates, etc. for Emerson and for me, lots of events throughout the week I’d have to attend.  I didn’t realize how much we drove around, even without having work commutes.  We’re all sleeping more, though not necessarily better.  We have all had weird and disturbing dreams and have dealt with insomnia or trouble staying asleep so we’re often turning off alarms, sleeping in later, going to bed earlier, and taking naps.  My day isn’t drastically different since I already worked from home, I just have more daytime interruptions since I am not alone.

Have you discovered anything new that you like to do?

Emerson: I discovered that I like to pastel paint.

Alison: We decided to buy a Peloton right before all this went down and it arrived the first week schools were closed and we were told to shelter in place.  We had no idea how much we would depend on and love this bike.  I was never a cyclist, but I really enjoy it and look forward to rides to break up the day and let off steam.  Karl was already riding his road bike on a trainer so now we have this shared activity where we discuss our achievements, classes we like, and such.

Karl: Peloton. I find I am way more competitive than I thought I was.

What’s been your favorite activity?

Emerson: My favorite activity is playing video games with my friends

Alison: Since I am self-employed, I really haven’t had a lot of time yet to find new activities because I’m working really hard to pivot and adapt my business to this new world.  I’m working more hours than before, which seems to be a contrast to most of my friends and people I see on social media. I think the best thing is since this happened I have finished three books when prior it would take me months to slog through one!

Karl: Gardening. I get to be alone, and I really enjoy the smells, sights, and sounds of the community garden.  I also enjoy being able to provide food for my family.

******

Emily and Leah (4), California

(also part of the family unit: Dad Ryan and baby sister Noah, 9 months), Emily is an actress and Leah will be 5 this summer

What are the best and worst things about this?
Leah:  The worst thing is you can’t go out to movies and you can’t go out to stores or parties or playdates because of the invisible bug and you cannot go anywhere except your house…. but other areas – no way you can’t do that… [the best things are] staying home all day and staying with your family.
Emily: There are no best things about this situation – so I’ll just say the WORST is that it is a worldwide pandemic and everyone is terrified and people are dying and economies are collapsing and small businesses are disappearing and there are 22 MILLION Americans on unemployment – nothing like this seen since the Great Depression – so to share my “silver lining” is really infuriating to me (at least today – some days I am less sad than others). And naturally, I despise this whole “the great pause” campaign and pushes on social media to take this time to be “BETTER PEOPLE”. I mean, people who have the time to think about how to be “better people” and to “embrace” this are one of the lucky ones. That being said, I am also one of the lucky ones because I have the time and health to even write this – BUT despite all my corona rage, I must say that I am very very grateful that most everyone I know is also lucky and healthy and safe right now. I am also very very grateful my children are young enough to not feel worried right now – they get to just be healthy happy children despite everything which is a huge blessing.
What does your day look like usually?
Leah: I stay home and go on bikes and scooters and stay in my house for most of the day. No [nothing else].
Emily: I get up and tell my four year old she only has 5 more minutes of TV left because daddy let me sleep in and she has already been up over an hour staring at the Netflix programming that I have manipulated to only play in Spanish BECAUSE MY CHILD WILL BE BILINGUAL DESPITE THIS GODDAMN IT. Everyone gets fed, then the day starts of balancing the needs of the 4 year old and the 8 month old – sometimes I get really lucky and daddy takes one or both of the them FAR AWAY and I can cry in peace or actually find some happiness and read or write or call a friend or my brother or submit for jobs that we will never get shot (short films, commercials, even the occasional live theatre gig, believe it or not). Sometimes I will help Leah with her letters or spell a word or actually speak to her in Spanish for five minute before I’m just like fuck this shit.  Then we eat lunch. Then there’s more of the same – maybe an art project, maybe some cookies, maybe matzoh making if a Jewish holiday demands it. Leah might have a call with her pre-k class or a karate class or dance, all online of course. Coordinated afternoon nap time is ESSENTIAL because then mommy can find happiness in yoga or a run or a barre class… then dinner (essentially our lives revolve around food more than ever). Then bath for Leah (yay more alone time because just being with the baby is kinda like alone time) then mommy and daddy stare at the TV and talk about our fears and prayers (again, depending on the optimism of the day)  AND THEN WE SLEEP AND THEN IT STARTS. ALL. OVER.
What’s different and what’s the same?
Leah: I don’t go to school and I still have rest time alone in my room.
Emily: Well, we definitely always obsessed over food and snacking and meals, so, the same. Also my children are still their charming and also nightmarish selves, depending on the moment. Also my husband is still kind and patient and forgiving of my rage when I not so suddenly just scream LEAVE ME ALONE when he tries to suggest something to help. What’s different is I DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE. ALSO THERE IS A TERRIFYING VIRUS BREAKING DOWN MAJOR CITIES AND HUMAN SPIRITS.
Have you discovered anything new that you like to do?
Leah: Go in the hot tub and pool and spend time with my sister and my mommy and my daddy and the sun -I  love you sun.
Emily: I find a lot of self-worth in routine and successful logistics, so I wouldn’t say it is new per se, but I REALLY enjoy putting things in my instacart (I never ordered groceries online before) and pouncing on that ONE AVAILABLE SHOPPING WINDOW, and then adding stuff to my cart BEFORE THE SHOPPING HAS STARTED then TEXTING WITH THE SHOPPER ABOUT OPTIONS then seeing the JOY on my husband’s face when his favorite jerky and yogurt ranch dressing arrive. I enjoy the process AND the results – I mean, isn’t that the kind of life success people look for their whole lives?
What’s been your favorite activity?
Leah: playing with mommy and daddy and noa and TV and sun… and apple juice.
Emily: INSTACART
******

Kylee, Kenny, Sadie (age 6), and Miles (age 3) 

What are the best and worst things about this?

Sadie: The best thing is that we could be home and spend some time with our families. The worst thing is that people are dying and we can’t go to school and learn.

Miles: Playing, eating lollipops on Mommy’s lap, and watching tv.

Kylee: Having more quality time as a family has been the incredible silver lining from this time of lockdown. We finally broke out the board games we purchased in the past that were collecting dust, had impromptu dance parties and picnics on our deck as a family, and really learned more about where our children are excelling and struggling educationally speaking. When I was forced into teacher mode, I started paying attention to my kid’s learning styles and levels individually. Sadie who is six was complaining that her Kindergarten work was too easy, so we started teaching her 1st grade curriculum and she’s thriving in math, reading, and finally mastered how to ride her bike without training wheels this past week. The kids are climbing trees in our tiny front yard and using their imaginations – playing with sticks and rocks from our yard. Before COVID we wouldn’t get home until 6pm or later many nights, scramble to make dinner, have homework completed, baths done, bedtime and it was always like a “collapse and repeat” process throughout the week. It didn’t seem to leave a lot of room for quality time. Weekends were often spent rushing around between ballet classes, social gatherings, and all the errands that were needed for the following week. When we complete work, we spend the late afternoons outside on our porch and see our neighbors too – also outside with their kids or walking their dogs. Sadly, we’re actually moving and leaving our neighborhood soon, but the sense of community and neighborhood vibe seems stronger than ever for this reason – nobody has anywhere else to go, so porch culture is alive and well in DC. I also started reading books again, not just Audible books like before but physical books. A treat for myself is reading while sitting in the sunlight on my deck at the end of the day or workweek (it’s all bleeding together at this point), drinking a glass of wine or if I just need an escape from the cramped living quarters with my family — reading seems like a luxurious outlet right now. The pandemic has really brought back my gratitude for those simple things in life.

The hardest part of this pandemic has been the lack of childcare. While I realize my husband and I are incredibly lucky to have jobs, our health, and a roof over our heads right now when so many Americans are struggling – I also changed jobs this past month, so trying to learn the new position and show my value via video calls is a daily challenge with young children in the house and a husband who also has conference calls and work commitments throughout the day. There seems to be little to zero breaks for many parents who are working from home right now and don’t have any extra help.  The children seem to be more worried than usual if one of us leaves to go to the grocery store or appears to be leaving for any length of time. The kids are finding reasons to come into our bed every night. Perhaps it is their own anxiety, but clinginess seems to be the new normal right now. Lessons in self-sufficiency, responsibility, and caring for each other (“Sadie, watch your brother while we both have conference calls for the next hour”) is something I hope my kids get out of this if anything. I do think that learning you have a role and you need to support elements of home life is something that is brushed over in modern parenting and is more important than ever right now.

 As an introvert, it’s also really hard to not have some alone time for my own mental sanity.

Kenny: Being around my kids ALL THE TIME has been both the best and worst thing. That first week trying to telework while feeling pressure to educate my children and also cover for my wife who was starting a new job that same week, was one of my low points as both a parent and husband. After I realized that there is limited pressure to educate a PK-3 and kindergartener, and television consumption for the kids ramped up, everyone was happier and less stressed out. I’ve really enjoyed watching my 3 yr old master his scooter and my 6 yr old improve her reading skills and learn how to ride her bike without training wheels . Board games that my kids were always bored with became family fun, and not having to get ready for work and commute adds a couple extra hours to the day. My children – who have always loved one another – have grown even closer, and if you ask them they would probably say they prefer this covid-lifestyle to the old normal because of all the family time. I miss my friends and talking to people other than my family. I miss work. I miss my co-workers, which I never thought I would say. While I’m anxiously awaiting the days this is all over and our old routines can resume, I know that this will be the silver lining. I won’t be able to think back on this crazy time in our lives and think fondly about the unique experience we have to spend time with my kids at their young ages.

What does your day look like usually?

Sadie: I wake up and eat breakfast maybe?

Kylee: It’s important for me to treat work days like work days and maintain some type of routine, especially starting a new job in the middle of this that has lots of video calls, so I wake up between 6-7:30am most mornings, shower, get the makeup on, make coffee, get the kids breakfast, and have them start their distant learning work by 8am. I start my workday at 8:30am and it ends at 5pm. Around 5pm we try to go outside in our tiny yard or have the kids scoot or bike around the block until dinner around 6:30pm. We either play games or watch movies with the kids after dinner and then it’s bath or bedtime around 8:30-9p. On the weekends I might join a Zoom call at night with some Mom friends who are all having similar struggles or encourage Sadie to have a Facetime playdate with a friend. Kenny and I also try and take the kids out to hit some baseballs in an empty lot down the street or spend time in our tiny yard.

Kenny: I don’t set an alarm anymore. It’s glorious. I know I will wake up before I need to be logged on. Morning routines of feeding the kids and making coffee before getting to work are stress-free. When the work day starts, my wife and I share our meeting schedule and classify them as important or not (for planning coverage of kids). The 6 yr old usually sits down with a book of exercises/lessons and works on that for an hour while the 3 yr old watches tv. She then joins him in front of the tv. Snacks are prepared as requested by the kids. As expectations at work have somewhat relaxed, and unexpected disruptions are increasingly tolerated, my work/childcare day has become less stressful. I miss my wife though. She’s usually too tired to even watch her crap Bravo shows I tolerate, because I love her dearly.

What’s different and what’s the same?

Kylee: There’s definitely more screen time for the kids right now than there normally would be, but there’s also a more outdoor time to some degree. While they don’t have recess like they would at school, as city kids we weren’t dragging them outside in the evenings either like we are now. In the early weeks I encouraged my kids to get dressed every morning in normal clothes, but at this point I’ve kind of given up and am allowing them to wear pajamas to their hearts content. We are spending more time as a family teaching our kids baseball, biking, games – much more than we normally were with the hustle of modern life. Having that extra time not doing the daily commuting schedule has really helped us to have more down time together.

Kenny: Just about everything M-F is different. What is the same though is how much I value the weekends. Juggling kids while trying to work is very stressful. Having to split attention is not ideal. Though we are incredibly limited, there is still the feeling that we can relax on the weekends and spend less stressful times with the family.

Sadie:  When we eat dinner now it’s light outside.  

Have you discovered anything new that you like to do?

Sadie: Ride my bike.
Kylee: Anything else? What about reading? Do you like reading more than you used to?
Sadie: (Shrugs.) A little.

Kylee: Not anything too surprising since I don’t really have much extra time between work and children. In the perfect world I’d love to be playing poker or learning bridge with my husband at night, playing/relearning piano, or reading everything known to man – but honestly, I’m passing out early many nights after tending to kids and work all day. I have been joining some Instagram Live barre classes that @bfitbarre has been putting on for free and love joining those when I can. We’re also moving in two weeks, so planning and packing has comprised much of our extra free time. I am, like many out there, hoping to get into gardening once we move to our new house that has a backyard. Growing your own produce seems more important than ever in the middle of this crisis.

Kenny: Not really. There is less time to spend on myself than before. I’m a bit jealous of the childless who can read, or knit, or learn a new instrument, or binge a show all day with extra time.

What’s been your favorite activity?

Sadie: Coloring.

Kylee: Drinking? No, kidding. I honestly was having a nightly drink (or a few) for the first couple weeks of the lockdown and figured it was a bad habit to be getting into, so squashed that habit. Honestly just walking around the blocks while my kids’ bike or scooter is my favorite activity with the sun shining through the trees and a slight breeze. The spring weather is gorgeous and the mosquitoes haven’t arrived yet, so I’m grateful for those moments where we can breathe some fresh air together

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