FAMILY & PARENTING

9 Things My Husband And I Aim To Complete While In Home Isolation

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

Last year at this exact same time, I was preparing for surgery. After chasing my daughter around our basement to let out some energy before bed, I felt a snap in my back.

That snap turned out to be a herniated disc — one of the worst that the surgeon had ever seen. While the notoriety was wonderful (everyone strives to be the best at something, right?), it brought up some difficult, schedule-changing scenarios. I wasn’t able to lift my daughter for six weeks.

That meant to help out during my recovery, my husband worked from home for a few days. The arrangement worked out well and even strengthened our relationship. Eventually, when things went back to normal, I admittedly missed our time sharing the same workspace.

It was one plus among the many negatives. Even better, it proved how well we worked together in the midst of chaos.

Many couples are currently aiming for that same vibe during shelter-in-place orders. Since we had already adjusted to being home together, we chose to make this time as productive as possible. I kept trying to think ahead. I consulted my good friend Reddit for some suggestions that people who had stay-at-home orders prior to our state wished they had known before starting their home isolation. It was a helpful way to get organized during such a chaotic time.

Here are some of the projects we’re attempting to work on during our time at home. Some have already failed, while others have just begun. But since we’re likely in this for a few more weeks, there’s still plenty of time ahead for us to complete these home isolation goals.

Potty Training Our Daughter

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Twenty20

Let me admit, we’ve been trying to do this for about a year now. And it’s actually gotten more difficult as time goes on.

While I don’t want to talk in-depth about my daughter’s bathroom training (as it’s unfair to both you and her), I will say that she’s very smart and very stubborn. While she knows what she’s supposed to do, she’s not a big fan. As a parent, it’s been a difficult journey because I don’t want to make the act of going to the bathroom a traumatic or tearful time.

Since we have this time at home together, now is the best time to just sit down and spend more time making sure we get this right. Plus, “you were potty-trained during the health crisis” is a good anecdote for later.

Turning Our House Into a "Smart Home"

Turning Our House Into a "Smart Home"

During times like these, we should embrace the ability to tell Alexa to turn off the lights and have her actually complete the task. It sounds silly, but it’s one less thing you need to worry about. Even verbal commands like “Alexa, goodnight” can turn off all the lights on your floor.

It’s a little funny how, just a few decades ago, we laughed at inventions like the Clapper. The commercial was funny, but the product served a useful purpose. These commands are very similar, yet somehow more widely accepted.

Creating a More Efficient Daily Schedule

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Karen Belz/LittleThings

It’s very, very easy for parents to pass an iPad to their child in exchange for an hour or two of peace. Sometimes, it has to be done. But it’s a little ridiculous for my daughter to use the iPad all day while I’m working. Balancing both is very important.

Now, with my husband around, I’ve embraced the idea of forming a daily calendar of activities. Turns out, my 3-year-old really loves having a schedule. We mapped out times and images so that even she knows what’s expected of her next. It’s broken up our day and made us all feel a little in more control over what’s happening in the world right now.

Exercising More

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This is a tough one. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I’m a gym buff who needs a workout in the morning to feel energized. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m a woman who owns a cheap elliptical machine in the basement that doesn’t get used as much as it should. My wake-up must-have? A gigantic mug of coffee.

Working remotely means it’s often hard to get up and move, but I’m trying to do that more. Mostly because I know that walking and activity will help my mental health, but also because I’ve been stress-eating like crazy. Exercise does so much for us, but getting motivated is the hard part.

The other day, I ran for the first time. It was only up the street, but it felt really good. I’ve love to continue with that type of routine.

Learning How To Bake Bread

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Karen Belz/LittleThings

If you’re on Instagram, surely you’ve seen a lot more sourdough starters than you did just about a month ago. Before I knew that everyone was on board the bread-making train, I had the genius idea to buy a bread maker.

The purchase was one I had dreamed about prior to being quarantined. The smell of freshly baked bread is hard to beat. Plus, with certain food shortages, it seemed like a good and healthy skill to pick up. The biggest problem? Securing all of the right ingredients for bread baking.

Yeast has been a little hard to come by. However, I learned that yeast is also something you can cultivate at home. Who knew?

Starting a Garden With What's Available

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Karen Belz/LittleThings

I’ll admit, I’ve always been a fan of gardening. It’s one of my biggest hobbies. I’m not a pro, but I learn more and more every year. This year, I started a little earlier than I anticipated.

There were a lot of struggles this time around since I had to mostly work with what I had. Sure, I ordered more seeds on Amazon — but I didn’t feel right going to a home and gardening store for gardening soil. Or any type of planter. They’re essential for a garden, but they’re not “essential” right now based on everything that’s going on. It’s amazing what you’ll find in your own storage. For example, who knew I also had flower seeds on hand?

In a way, it’s interesting how these times have forced us to be a bit more crafty. Right now, I have a pot of cabbage that seems to be doing well. The next step is figuring out what I’ll use it for.

Weaning My Daughter Off Her Pacifier

Weaning My Daughter Off Her Pacifier

This should have been done months ago, I know. Trust me. We’ve been to the dentist and gotten the recommendation. However, the dentist isn’t the one who’s putting my daughter down for naps every day.

The good news is that my daughter has learned that it’s a bedtime-only tool. She doesn’t wander around with it during the day, and it hasn’t affected her speech. But the second she pops a pacifier in her mouth, she gets drowsy. It almost seems dangerous to focus on getting rid of both the pacifier and diapers at the same time, but these are the struggles every parent needs to overcome. If we don’t handle this now, then when?

 

Using Our Leftovers in a Productive Way

Using Our Leftovers in a Productive Way
Karen Belz/LittleThings

The good news is that there likely won’t be any sort of country-wide food shortage. Sure, some grocery trips haven’t been complete due to certain items being wiped out at the store. But we’ll all likely eat — which is something I’m very thankful for.

Even so, I’ve become more tuned in to the amount of food that has the potential for being wasted. Old bananas could become banana bread. Fruit that has a day or two left can be frozen and turned into smoothies. Everything has a purpose.

My husband and I are aiming to reduce our food waste from here on out. Even when things get better and we’re allowed to resume our lives again, it’s still our responsibility to use what we buy, and eat what we cook. Even if it’s turned into leftovers.

Cooking More Comforting Dinners

Cooking More Comforting Dinners
Karen Belz/LittleThings

This situation isn’t ideal — obviously. But it has given my husband a few more hours per day. His original commute was about a half-hour each way. But sometimes, it took him even longer to get home due to traffic. Since he’s our head chef for dinnertime, usually meals were quick and rushed due to the lack of time.

Sure, I helped prep the big meal during the day. But by the time he got home, he was just too tired to spruce things up. The food was still good, so I never complained. (Plus, since I’m in charge of breakfast and lunch, I’ll never complain about someone cooking a meal for me.)

These days, he has more time. So he’s been able to rejuvenate his love of cooking. The meals he’s prepared are similar to those from the past. Even easy meals have a nice little flair to them to make them worth waiting for. These days, so many of our comforts have been ripped from us. A comforting meal can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.