Cheesecake on the doorstep; an obstinate at times daughter, a husband missing sports but I can take a long bath

graphic coping greenBy Nicki St George

April 1, 2020



The Gazette has put together a team of parents who are at home taking care of their children while the province goes through school closures and the shut down of everything other than essential services.

Ashley Worobec, Amber Rohol, and Nicki St. George will write regularly on how they are coping.  We invite parents to take part in this initiative by adding comments to each Coping with COVID19 & the kids article.

Saturday, March 21
My friend who runs the homeschooling FaceBook group posts a great idea – why bother keeping a tidy house when no one is coming over? I mull this over but decide that my brain cannot function without a clean space. Today is “Cleaning the House Day.” Everyone has their own job to do. I argue with my husband over the placement of the vacuum cleaner, so things are pretty much business as usual.
Everyone is getting each other’s nerves a bit. We go for a long family walk and we see some sidewalk art that cheers us up. Various Facebook mums groups are trying to coordinate rainbows and smiley faces to be put in windows. I take a long bath, something that I don’t always feel like I have time for, but now…

Sunday, March 22
Things left at my door: cheesecake from my neighbor, Kumon math book for Leo, USB cable for the monitor, no monitor yet, a gift from my friend in NZ. We watch the New Zealand news (where my husband and mother are from and where I lived for 10 years)– they are beginning lock down. Dan takes the kids out for a bit so that I can have some breathing room. There is a lot of asking questions today; Bea is whiny…can I have a treat? Can I have iPad? What’s for dinner? I finish my puzzle! I start a new puzzle.

Work plan week 2 St George

Keeping them focused and busy is going to be a challenge if this lasts more than a month.

Monday, March 23
Overall the day is okay. I write our schedule on chart paper (as has become the norm) and permit my kids the use of electronics at two points during the day – when I have two school meetings scheduled over Zoom. I marvel at anyone who is trying to work from home right now and watch their kids at the same time.
I decide to attempt some homeschooling with the kids and I try to figure out how to work with one, while keeping the other one busy. There is a reason why I chose to teach high school. This will get easier I tell myself. They start journals. They spend the rest of the day on devices. Bea chats with Maelle. This involves going through every face filter on Messenger. Bea calls out instructions, “choose the scariest…funniest…” A revelation comes when she realizes that her dolls’ faces register as faces in the camera. This goes on for a long time. I am happy that she has a friend to play with.

Tuesday, March 24
Today the first thing on our list is “get dressed and brush teeth.” Bea, in typical six-year-old fashion, refuses to get dressed. I get frustrated. We go for a walk. I try to encourage Bea to learn the names of some birds and she refuses. She stops every 5 meters and complains that I am walking too fast. Molasses would beat me in a race. I get more frustrated. We return home and both kids pick up their workbooks without complaining and quietly start to work. This was the next thing on our list. I pat myself on the back and my mood lifts. I make us lunch. Then it is time for a break. I have had to dig out my husband’s old iPhone so that both kids can chat with their friends at the same time, while leaving me in peace. I do some reading for my Masters degree that I’m working towards. I check in on friends, scroll through social media feeds, and do anything possible to avoid actually doing any reading. Next up is fairy garden making. Something that Bea has been so excited about. It is also convenient since Leo lost another tooth on our walk earlier. The kids complete their journals for the day. I give them sentence starters. Under “A challenge I faced was…” they each write the other’s name. I conquer.

Coping pictures St George

The whole tribe on line to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, March 25
Today my parents celebrate 50 years of marriage. I send out a request to my brother, parents and 82-year-old aunt in NZ to download the Houseparty app so that we can have a toast together. The process of getting my dad and aunt to go through the motions of downloading the app and signing in nearly finishes me. But we make it work and we have a nice chat together!

Thursday, March 26
I have to go to the hospital for an appointment with my oncologist and my Herceptin treatment. My dad has given me an N95 mask, which I wear. There is only one entrance into the hospital. They ask the usual questions, take my temperature and tell me my mask is better than theirs so I should just keep that one on. Things have changed dramatically in the chemo suite since my last visit two weeks ago. The nurses are all wearing masks and while I am here, they are told to move their workspaces so they are three meters apart and they are given new masks with eye protectors attached. I am still confused over the don’t wear a mask/wear a mask debate. My oncologist tells me that I should hold off on going back to work right away and we decide that I will return in May. While I’m at the hospital I leave instructions for the children. For one hour they can do the following: go in the backyard, play a game together, clean Bea’s room (as if). Then for the second hour they may have screen time. I come home to find that Leo has been helping Bea with some schoolwork. My heart swells.

Friday, March 27

The sands on Beachway do shift.

The Beachway is a quiet part of the city where keeping that two metre space isn’t all that difficult.

My family is settling nicely into the swing of self-isolation. However, I am acutely aware of my privilege in this situation. Our jobs are secure, we live in a nice neighbourhood that is safe to walk around and where neighbours look out for one another, I am on sick leave which means that I have time to spend with the kids and they are not glued to screens for 7 hours a day, and my kids are 6 and 8 – old enough to be somewhat independent and young enough to still be enthusiastic about scavenger hunts, arts and crafts and my lame attempts at doing science experiments.

Today I take the kids for a walk along the Burlington beach strip. In the afternoon, we abandon our baking project in favour of spending time outside in the sun. I make us spaghetti for dinner, a family favourite. Leo digs out his portable record player and spins records while keeping me company. Today was a good day.

Related news stories:

This is how Coping got started.

Marathon Mom gets through the first week – does the Around the Bay run solo.

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