How to Exercise when You’re Stuck at Home

Many of us have been stuck at home for four months or more. Those of us who are chronically ill are going to be stuck at home for even longer. This isn’t the most motivating situation for remaining fit, but taking care of our health is really important. There are things you can do to stay active, even if you’re stuck at home. Here are some ideas.

Continue reading “How to Exercise when You’re Stuck at Home”

Children’s Nonfiction Books We Read During COVID-19

Children’s Non-Fiction Books We Borrowed during COVID-19

books. Photo by Tom Hemans on Unsplash

 

We borrowed so many library materials during the pandemic that I felt the need to break our materials review into several post. If you missed the first post all about the children’s picture books we borrowed, you’ll find that here. This post is all about the children’s nonfiction books we borrowed. Here’s what we read and what I thought

of it. Continue reading “Children’s Nonfiction Books We Read During COVID-19”

Being MultiTalented During the Pandemic

Before I deactivated my Facebook account and decided to give social media a rest for a while, I kept seeing posts about all the things you could do during quarantine. And I was really puzzled: do these people have kids?

My life became busier, not more open, since quarantine. Our kids can no longer do their activities in the evenings, and they’re still young enough that they need me a lot of the time. So no, I did not have time to clean my whole house from top to bottom, or sign up for a new course, or do all the wonderful things (hopefully) well-intentioned souls on social media tell you to do. As a matter of fact, I’m catching up on my blogs because my husband and I agreed that when he took a vacation week, I’d work during the day. When he’s working, I barely have time to catch my breath. But I have been learning to set more time aside for myself, guilt-free. And it feels good.

Being MultiTalented During the Pandemic, www.marianamcdougall.com. Background photo of bi-color shoes by

I’m still a multi-passionate person. I’m still and will always be perpetually curious and genuinely interested in just about anything. I still remember a time when I asked someone about the research about their PhD, and they wouldn’t tell me, citing that no one is interested in what they study. That was a frustrating conversation. And being a multi-passionate person during the pandemic, especially a person that has to be stuck at home while other people resume their lives, is also frustrating. It’s frustrating because there’s never been a better time to learn something new. All kinds of places are making their content free, there’s a plethora of new places to learn online, and society is finally encouraging people who have long ago graduated to study again. But… I just don’t have the time to take all the courses I’m interested in. Pandemic or not, that’s always the case. I have so many interests I can never quite satisfy all of them. So I must pick and choose.

Here’s how I’ve been able to feed some of my interests during the pandemic, despite being more encumbered than ever:

I talked about Habitica in a previous post. Habitica is making me do stuff. It’s a little voice in the back of my head that says, it’s OK to take 15 minutes to study French. Your kids can entertain themselves for that long. It’s that little voice int he back of my head saying, it’s OK to take 25 minutes to read a book. Your kids can do the same. And the best part? I got the kids to buy in to Habitica, so they want to get their extra things done as well. Which means a little extra time for me to do the things I’d like to do. And I’m doing them with a lot less guilt these days. 

If you’re multitalented, actually have time, and are bored, stay tuned.

I have previously compiled lists to learn just about anything online, and I’ll be sharing them in a post soon. For now, check out the list I’ve already shared for free homeschooling resources, and don’t forget to visit your local library’s website. Despite most libraries still being closed to the public, the majority offer a plethora of online services for anyone with a library card.

Homeschooling During the Pandemic: We’ve Become the Stereotype

So the world all of a sudden grew perfectly OK with homeschooling. After being harshly judged, interrogation-styled questioned, and being scoffed at for my choice to homeschool, parents everywhere saw themselves without any other option than to teach (or not teach) their kids at home. I saw posts everywhere about how homeschooling is going, and I had two reactions. The first was “well, hopefully after this is all over, people will be more open to and less judgmental about homeschooling.” My other reaction was… “people still have no idea what homeschooling is.”

Homeschooling During the Pandemic: We’ve become the stereotype

One of the questions I got ad nauseam any time some new person learned I homeschool my kids was: “what about socialization?” Apparently these folks think I keep my children locked at home all day long. My kids socialize during swimming lessons, acting lessons, sports sessions, art classes, nature walks, homeschooling socials, when they just go into a store with me, and the list goes on. They did, that is… until the pandemic began. We have now become the stereotype that’s often believed about homeschoolers. We don’t go anywhere and we don’t see anyone. 

It’s been tough for both the kids and the parents in our home not to be able to take part in activities, but we know it’s what’s best for everyone. And we’re trying to make up for this by having lots of video calls with friends and family, and by doing extra special things with our kiddos. For example, each night of the week someone chooses an activity to do together after dinner. The kids all look forward to their night and we all enjoy the time spent together. We also don’t do as much “school” as we were doing before the pandemic.

Homeschooling During the Pandemic: Being adaptable is the name of the game

We’re fairly eclectic homeschoolers. We do what works. We have three children with wildly different personalities and levels of ability. One of our children has ADHD, is on the spectrum, and has Developmental Coordination Disorder, while another child devours books, and the other is more interested in playing and climbing anything that can be climbed. Being adaptable was already a necessity in our household, but when the pandemic hit, it became even more so.

We stopped “doing school” long before the school year was over. We let the kids have some real vacation with no expectations other than doing their chores, saying family prayers, and doing some exercise together. When a child’s world gets turned upside down, you have to be OK with change in your own world, too. No, I’m not worried about my kids “falling behind“—whatever that means. 

Homeschooling During the Pandemic, www.marianamcdougall.com. Background photo of a boy doing homework by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Where We’re Going From Here

Because I’m high-risk and we’ve chosen to be overly cautious, we’re not doing much this summer. We’re not travelling and we won’t be going to places where people conglomerate. So we’ve decided to start the next school year earlier, and then take a 4-month vacation when the 2020-2021 year is over. If we play our cards right, we’ll be done our school year by the first of May 2021. That means we’ll have all of May, all of June, all of July, and all of August to enjoy the warmer weather and free time. With any luck, the pandemic will be over by then, and we’ll be able to do some travelling. 

My hopes for the future of Homeschooling after the pandemic

After the schools closed during the pandemic, many parents took up what they believed to be homeschooling. This was done without much warning, and most people were unprepared. As a result, many parents still have a skewed perception of what homeschooling actually is. Also, most parents were teaching their children at home but were completely isolated from any homeschooling community due to the pandemic. I really hope this doesn’t mean that people will continue to believe that homeschooled children don’t get any “socialization.” This is simply untrue. I also hope that parents who were forced into “school at home” will be a little more open to homeschooling and the different varieties it comes in. From classical to eclectic to unschooling, no homeschooling family does things exactly the same way.

Homeschooling during the pandemic became the norm, not the exception. It’s my hope that now that more people have had a chance to try different ways to educate their children, more respect will be given for the different choices parents make. It’s my hope that when I say “I homeschool my children,” it won’t be an indication that strangers can interrogate my kids on their math skills, or that people feel the need to check my qualifications. I hope that some good things will come out oft his pandemic. Because there have been enough bad things.

Being Chronically Ill During a Pandemic

At one point, I refused to write about my chronic illnesses. I decided it was about time I was more open about them. I came to this decision for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s no longer easy to hide  my symptoms. Secondly, I’m no longer ashamed of who I really am, and I’m at peace with cutting out of my life those who are bothered by that. And finally, I have personal, safety, and health reasons for staying at home and saying no to visitors at this time. Being chronically ill during a pandemic means making some hard choices and knowing that some people won’t be happy with you. I’m finally at the point where I know I can’t keep everybody happy, and I don’t want to, either. My health and my family’s health comes first.

Being Chronically Ill During a Pandemic: Nothing Changes, and Everything Changes

I’ve explained my illnesses in an earlier post. For this post, suffice it to say that I have asthma, an auto-immune condition, respiratory problems, and a connective tissue disorder that’s robbing me of my mobility, little by little. These are just the major issues. There are other, lesser chronic problems as well. While my asthma is mild, it has become worse over the last couple of years. I also have more triggers for my asthma. All this is to say: I’m high-risk. If I catch this virus, it won’t be pretty. And as I keep saying, I have enough health issues. I do not need something else to add to the list. That’s why this extreme extrovert, anything-but-homebody is perfectly willing to stay home and talk to people via phone, video call, or whatever way I can talk to them without touching them or being near them. And I thrive on hugs, so that’s saying something. I’m fortunate to have my husband and little ones to still give me lots of snuggles. And they also are the reason I’m being overly cautious.

Here’s how nothing changes during a pandemic for those who are chronically ill: we are still chronically ill. Our conditions are chronic, so they don’t go away. We are used to being left out of the conversation (especially as young people with chronic illnesses—and by young I mean “not elderly”), so we’re not surprised when nothing is said about us. We’re not surprised when people are protesting that they don’t want to use masks, because we’re used to not being a consideration. Healthy people’s “freedom” and desire to live always trumps ours. So really, nothing changes. But everything changes.

Being chronically ill during a pandemic means that most of us who rely on therapies to cope with chronic pain no longer have access to those therapies. While my physiotherapy office and massage therapy office have finally reopened, I am still not going to them. And as uncomfortable as what I’m about to say might makes some people feel, it needs to be said. I’m right, and while you’re “sick of the quarantine,” I’m sick in the quarantine. I’m sick always. I don’t get to say “screw the recommendations, I want to go out now.” I can’t afford the risk. And here’s just one example of how I’m right about staying home and saying no to visitors.

Being chronically ill during a pandemic: Why I'm choosing to Stay home, www.marianamcdougall.com. Background photo of the coronavirus by the CDC

Surge in Local Cases Solidifies My Choice to Stay Home

For those who have been living under a rock, here’s how a pandemic works: someone gets infected. They infect other people. Those other people infect other people. And those people infect more people. And it keeps going, exponentially.

Kingston, ON, where I live, had been doing well: in two weeks, we didn’t have any new recorded cases. Then businesses reopened and some people threw caution to the wind, assuming that if businesses were open it was OK to resume life as usual. Except it wasn’t. Two businesses that reopened had workers who got infected. They infected customers. Who then infected people they lived with. 

Remember when I said that I wasn’t going back to physiotherapy even though my clinic had reopened? The business where the outbreak happened is a business my physiotherapist frequents. I don’t know if she did go back to that business during the pandemic or not, but it doesn’t matter. Our little city is the perfect example of what happens when you let your guard down during a pandemic. We had no cases for almost two weeks. Then nonessential businesses reopened, didn’t follow proper protocol, and people got sick and infected a bunch of other people. 

I know I sound like I’m paranoid. But it’s what I keep saying. If there ever was a time to be paranoid, this is it. And paranoid isn’t even the right word. Overly cautious. We all need to be overly cautious. We all need to understand that just because government says businesses can reopen, does not mean the pandemic is over. Just because we’re doing things to try to get the economy running again, does not mean the pandemic is over. And just because I’m staying home doesn’t mean I can’t support local businesses. As far as I’m able, I’m still doing business with local folks—I’m just getting things delivered, or only going to places where curbside pickup is an option. I wear a mask when I go out (to protect others), I keep my distance always, and I try to limit my outings to once a week for essentials and less than that for non-essentials. 

I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. I’m just saying that as someone who is chronically ill and who can’t afford more disease to add to the long list of illnesses I already have, I’m going to be staying home, and I’m not going to be allowing people into my home. As awful as this may sound, this is what I have to do.

I spent years of my life hiding my illnesses to keep people around me comfortable. I’m done with that. I’m a chronically ill person. My illnesses will never get better, will never go away, and some of them will get worse as I get older. This is who I am, and I have finally accepted it. It also means I’m learning to say no, especially when it comes to protecting myself and my family. People may think I’m being paranoid. I’m OK with that. 

Gratitude Amidst a Pandemic

The world looks quite different than it did three months ago. We have all had to adjust to a much different way of thinking, living, and doing business. Some of us have adapted well, some of us have refused to adapt, but all of us have been affected in some way by what’s going on in the world.

During these difficult times, I think it’s even more important to focus on gratitude and on the things we are blessed to have or experience. With that in  mind, I wanted to write a post about the things I feel privileged to have and grateful for.

This is my own experience. It’s not my intent to tell anyone how to feel. We all process grief differently, and this pandemic has certainly brought grief to all of us. For some, the grief is for the life we knew. For others, grief for the life with knew intermingles with grief for the passing of loved ones and is made even more difficult as a result.

Expressing gratitude is one way in which I can experience my grief and still be comforted. Whichever way you need to experience your grief is personal and only you can decide how to proceed.

Here, I’m sharing the things I’m grateful for as a way to process that even during this pandemic, even as a high-risk person, even as someone dealing with anxiety about being in public (ironic for an extreme extrovert…), even with all of that, I have much to be grateful for.

Living with gratitude during the pandemic, www.marianamcdougall.com

1. A big backyard

I’m grateful to live in a home with a large backyard, where I can walk and play with my children while not having to expose myself to potential contact with the virus.

2. My loving family

I’m grateful to live with my loving family, where spending time together is a joy.

3. Summer

The sunshine on my face makes it easier to bear the days of isolation. I already struggle in the winter, so I’m grateful that this is happening when I can have some sunshine.

4. A home (and our RV, too)

I’m grateful that we went on our adventure year before the pandemic hit, and that we decided to keep the RV even though we don’t have plans for long-term travel at the moment. The RV has been a great distraction for the kids, who play happily in it, pretending to explore the world while staying put on our driveway. I am also grateful for my home, where we can safely shelter in place.

5. Acceptance and safety

I’m grateful that despite being considered a minority by some, I feel accepted and safe in my community. I pray that all people can feel this way, wherever they live, and that the violence we see play out so often will come to an end.

6. Habitica

During the pandemic, I discovered the website Habitica, and it has brought so much joy into my life. I’ll write another post dedicated to the website, but for now, if you’ve never heard of it, look it up; you won’t be disappointed. It’s a habit-forming website that makes your real life tasks into a role-playing game. It’s a blast and it’s making me a better person.

 

What are you grateful for during this time?