COVID19 Work

Day 35: Settling In

April 19, 2020

It’s weird. One would think things would get more tiresome/stressful as the current stay-at-home measures have continued. BUT, the opposite has held true. So far, anyway.

Maybe this is because the dread of what lockdown would be like was worse than actual lockdown. Or it’s certainly possible that I’ve been busy enough with work this past week not to care. I did get to sleep all night last night which was wonderful and probably part of why I am in a good mood this morning.

(Please note, I am sure I would feel . . . quite differently if I were attempting to work without childcare. I am stressed out just thinking about it.)

((Also note I am not flying blind to the fact that this time just flat-out sucks for many. But this blog and current series of posts is chronicling my experiences and thoughts; there are plenty of better sources for news and political commentary. If you need a rec, my current favorite remains NPR’s Up First.))

BUT. All that said, I am continuing to take comfort in our little routines. I am finding that I am not missing some of the hustle and bustle of our previous life — the optional extracurriculars, in particular. Will I allow the kids to participate in activities they love when it is possible/safe? Absolutely. But I am not sure we will ever return to our prior level of engagement.

I guess I miss travel (and the excitement and learning that comes with work conferences). But I am also fully beyond my initial disappointment. I’m not finding myself as attached emotionally to future trips which may or may not occur.

I am comforted by the fact that I can still write, read, socialize online, do my workouts, go outside for a walk (yes I know many cannot currently do this or have to wear masks on a neighborhood walk — I am not taking it for granted). I am happy (and somewhat surprised) that the kids have been on fairly good behavior most of the time (WHICH COULD ALSO CHANGE . . .) and wonder if it’s simply because they are better rested and less stressed/overextended by a packed activity schedule.

Telemedicine has its pain points but I am enjoying the challenges of trying to streamline it and figure out what to keep from virtual visits going forward.

So, I’m feeling pretty good today, on Day 35. We just found out that our schools will not reopen this academic year, which I was anticipating. It’s actually (to me) a relief for this to no longer be up in the air. I am fervently hoping it will be safe for the kids to resume in the fall. (And I do wonder about summer camp, but am willing to accept whatever needs to happen. Once again, I recognize I’d be far FAR less zen about this if we didn’t have our childcare.)

not our orchids but aren’t they pretty?
evening stroll (pic by Annabel)


  • BB 21DFX Yoga & headspace, preferably both before kids up
  • Breakfast & hang out with kids
  • Go to hospital – see pts, notes, some pt follow up calls, and a few GME-related tasks
  • Hopefully home by 4ish.
  • Dinner: Fartlek Chili from Run Fast Eat Slow, tortilla chips, avocado
  • Clean up & prep for new week. Maybe fam walk outside.
  • Read while kids watch Disney+ (I want to start The Flatshare!)


  • Reply Lori C April 19, 2020 at 6:50 am

    It’s funny how perspective can shift day to day. I share your feelings about the activities. They have tried to continue karate virtually through Zoom and it is NOT working for my son. I really don’t want to take away their income, but at the same time it’s expensive and my 4 year old can’t pay attention. I think if the instructor/owner were not a friend of mine I wouldn’t think twice about cancelling. We JUST got childcare one day a week and the grandparents have been helping 3 other days. We do Fridays. It’s very stressful for me and I’d prefer at least 1 more day covered by the sitter, but my husband disagrees and in his words doesn’t want to spend the money because we are still paying tuition for kids preschool (until told otherwise). I think if they finally do cancel school hopefully it will give us some closure on these loose ends (tuition refunded? Or at least partially?) and I can lock down another day with her. Also I’m jealous of the tshirts outside! Snow here yesterday (Boston).

  • Reply Anna H. April 19, 2020 at 7:40 am

    (i really like your blog but please do not make excuses for your own thoughts and feelings) there are always people worse AND better off than you (and me). So i think you don’t need to point out that you know this situation can be worse for other people. This a personal blog. People who can’t handle your personal feelings shouldn’t be reading it. Thanks for your honest insight in your life, i really like reading other peoples perspectives on things. Thanks and keep writing! Love from a longtime BOBW listener and blog lurker from The Netherlands.

  • Reply A. April 19, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Personally, I appreciate the caution and the admission of privilege in the circumstances. I sometimes read the first entries at the beginning of the situation and felt very disconnected with the feelings and words. And although this is a personal blog, it would be a shame to stray from it because of these occasional inadequacies. And so I appreciate precautions that are not only rhetorical but seem sincere.

  • Reply Chelsea April 19, 2020 at 8:50 am

    I relate to a lot of this. While I would have been very surprised if our schools had re-opened, it was nice to have that be official yesterday. I feel like I went through a phase of being really scheduled and overwhelmed (by stuff I/we *wanted* to do) right before the virus to the phase of the chaos of the unknown where everyone was stressed and sad and badly behaved and now we’re in the phase of having figured everything out and are enjoying a smaller, simpler life. We’ve talked to the kids about how this was what life was like “in the old days” when (depending on who you were of course), you spent a lot of time with your immediate family and communicated (a lot if you were bored) with the same small-ish set of friends and family. We FT with my parents every day for about 5 minutes.

    As for the transition “back to normal”, I’m trying to figure out the best way to add back the best and maintain the best of being home. The problem – I think – is that there’s a mismatch between what is best for the intellectual side of my personality and what is best for the physical and emotional sides. And, since I make most of the decisions about the kids’ activities, this carries over to them as well. I just want to do *all* the things. There are so many cool, interesting opportunities, and I get serious FOMO (and not in an Instagram way) thinking about saying no. If there’s an opportunity engages me that I could technically, possibly do, I really really want to say yes. But doing that leaves me physically and emotionally drained. I’m an introvert and having entire days where I don’t leave the house is actually very peaceful and restorative for me. Feeling like I have to schedule a lot of social activities leaves me drained.
    Similarly, there are lots of things that the kids are interested in and *could* do, but they are tired at the end of the school day and sometimes resistant to going (and of course it’s draining to fight them about going to an activity they just begged to do).

    So what to do? I have no idea! It doesn’t help that so many things (especially kids activities) seem to have transitioned to a full year and/or multiple nights a week model. I get that it’s better for their business, but it would be nice to say that Monday is sports night and we rotate through basketball, soccer, martial arts, swim whatever. The Y *does* do that but other things (martial arts, gymnastics, ahem) do not. As for my own tendency to over commit… I feel like I have so little control over the big things (government responses to pandemics being one) but I *can* make a big difference in my very local environment. Saying that I will do whatever fundraising thing will actually meet a need in a classroom in a building I can see from my front yard. Saying that I will be a room parent means I can relieve some of the mental load from another working mom. So it’s hard for me to say no, even if it starts to affect me negatively. The day I was supposed to put on the PreK Easter party came and went, and I was not one bit sad I didn’t have to do it!

    Anyway… glad you are at feeling at peace… at least for the moment.

  • Reply Grateful Kae April 19, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Yes on the kids’ activities! I have been wanting to write a post about this exact topic and this has been very on top of my mind this week. My kids are usually VERY busy. Like, to the point that my younger son goes to swim practice 4-5 times a week, plus does soccer, plus takes piano lessons, plus has games and out of town swim meets and birthday parties and on and on. And that’s just one child. Our normal schedule is flipping crazy and I spend insane amounts of time driving people around. I feel very torn about how to handle it, since they are all good things and I love that they are involved with a variety of interests. But man, it has been amaaaaazing not having to run around constantly. I hadn’t realized how draining that all was. (I mean, I did know, but this really has showed me a glimpse of another possibility).

  • Reply Marina April 19, 2020 at 9:35 am

    The childcare piece is huge. We would be fine to WFH for longer, but while watching two small kids, doing this for much longer will just burn us out. If daycare (which doesn’t follow the public school schedule here) doesn’t reopen by June, we may need to look into a nanny. We can afford it temporarily but this is going to widen the gap between parents who can afford this help and can go back to work and those who can’t. Not your fault of course, just yet another thing that will highlight inequality.

  • Reply Rachel Sales April 19, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Hi Sarah! I saw that the book, The Flatshare, doesn’t come out until 2021. Is there another book by the same name? Can you recommend any light and fun reads? I’m looking to buy a few books to spend some time away from my phone. Thanks!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 19, 2020 at 11:52 am

      I’m just starting it but it’s definitely out 🙂 I think the paperback doesn’t get released until 2021!

  • Reply Ashley G April 19, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    You know, I was just thinking yesterday that if we just had some childcare, I really think this would be fine for us—even just part time care. On the flip side, neither of us is in medicine, so at least we have that going for us 🙂

    Ditto on the kid’s activities. Although I kind of always hated those, but this has highlighted just how much.

  • Reply rose April 19, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you for the normalcy of your family. Yes, I know it is a different normalcy but … children playing, parent working all gives a huge reminder of things continuing.
    I did not expect k-12 to reopen before summer. I am now wondering if and when schools in my area will reopen in the fall and under what circumstances. There is talk of 2 half day sessions and I wonder how that works for child care the other half of the day.
    I understand colleges and universities are looking at on-line classes in the fall or not opening in August but maybe not until October…….. and lots of other variations, all making it clear that this virus disruption is VERY long term … and very unknown. Also extremely financially destroying of higher education institutions. There are people who disapprove of post secondary education … they may well win and destroy education for all but the very rich 1%ers ….. and change us into a 4th world economy and country. Whoops. Getting depressed again. Back to your children building forts.
    Thank you for being upbeat and positive.

  • Reply omdg April 19, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Current childcare will be clutch to the summer situation. I expect it will continue a bit like it is now, without Zoom sessions and mandatory assignments. I fully expect to continue making the kid read, do Kahn academy, and practice piano and writing. Would be really lovely to also be able to have her do occasional “extras” like playdates or outings to museums and stuff. Oh, and she wants to ride a horse again. OTOH I am delighted not to have to scramble to schedule every single week this summer with a camp that costs waaaaayyyyy too much that fills every single gd day.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 19, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      yeah will need to institute some goals/structure (? online piano, mandatory reading time, etc) if there’s no camp . . . b/c home all summer with nothing they will probably go crazy. If a few activities / outings are available and safe would be wonderful. I also feel like the school will probably assign some online summer work seeing as there’s probably going to be some catchup needed.

  • Reply Jen April 19, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Curious about how you ensure your nanny is staying safe and not potentially bringing COVID into your house? We are hesitant to bring someone in for that reason (but I realize your situation is much different having so much history with her).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2020 at 5:44 am

      She’s not going anywhere- we trust her. I think it’s (unfortunately) more likely she would get COVID from us, seeing as we both go into the hospital (I’ll be back to tele after my call week but Josh will still have to go in).

      I also think we all (nanny + her husband included) already had it in early March. Would love to verify and hoping for an antibody test but needs to be a specific enough test which I’m not entirely sure is out there yet . . .

      • Reply Lana April 22, 2020 at 9:10 pm

        Ugh, things would be so much easier if we could get the right antibody tests. I think that both my daughter and I had it in February-March, and my father is convinced that he’s already had it, as well. But we don’t know, which is so so frustrating, especially because I’m pregnant and due in two months, and have to consider the possibility of getting sick while caring for a newborn. Uuuugh.

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts – we have part-time childcare, which helps a lot, and I feel a lot better than I did at the start of the shelter-in-place over a month ago (we’re in California). If I weren’t pregnant and exhausted/still nauseous at 31 weeks, I think I’d be relatively content right now, actually. Love seeing the blue skies and not feeling much FOMO.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.