Thursday, May 6, 2021

Day in the Life: Behind the Stories

Last week I shared "a day in the life" on my Insta-stories...just showing a little behind the scenes of a typical day. (is there any such thing typical these days? sighhhhhhh). I've documented a few of our days over the years (rounded up here if you're interested), and as mundane as it is (and it IS), I really love having these tiny time capsules of our "normal". (is there any such thing as normal these days? sighhhhhhh, again). 

Not one interesting thing is going around here on these days, but, we are nearing the finish line of the World's Longest School Year (measured objectively and subjectively) so I thought it'd be good to record our "now" for posterity. You know, before we switch up the whole routine and start wearing shorts instead of sweatpants on our Zoom calls. 

I have never shared a day in real time before, and quite honestly it was exhausting (#influencerproblems) but then again, what isn't exhausting these days? Sometimes it's a miracle that we get through the day (more from an emotional standpoint than a physical one) but having to juggle all the day's tasks PLUS film and caption them was surprisingly taxing. (I know, if this story had a soundtrack it would be a tiny violin....) Still, I'm glad I did it, just to have little snippets of this strange, strange time. 
But- never being one to leave well enough alone, I decided those micro-vids needed a more permanent place in the Bowdenisms universe, so I'm now typing up the behind the scenes to the behind the scenes. Through the window and behind the curtains. I don't know.... I just felt like while I always try to be real (on social media, and in life) it's hard to ensure a balanced and honest look a life through any singular medium. Sure, I posted 30 some glimpses into our day, but it's still not the full picture of how things work (and very much don't work) around here. I didn't exactly want to film myself crying in my closet (it happens sometimes) but I also don't want to come off super breezy. Partly because I feel responsible if anyone were to see this and do any sort of comparison...I want to be honest about how stinking HARD this all is sometimes, so that if you feel overwhelmed you know you are SO not alone. But also this context is for the future me. When I look back on this time, I'm going to misremember so much. (and maybe block out quite a bit more), so I want to look myself in the time-traveling eyes and remind her/me that this was all so brutal and beautiful and a moment-by-moment miracle.
 So with that...I bring you...A Day in the Life: A Quarantine Thursday at the Bowdens.
 You are though. 

7:00- My alarm goes off. I pay it absolutely no mind. I might go back to sleep. More likely I will tool around on my phone pretending like I'm waiting for Dustin to get out of the shower (when really that was not at all a factor in my slothfulness).
Meanwhile- the kids are supposed to wait until 7 to get up, but typically arise sometime in the 6AM hour. About 2/7 days a week they spook us bedside with some ludicrous complaint/question that they could absolutely handle on their own. But mostly they put on their own Netflix and zone for an hour until we finally feed them.

8ish- I get out of bed, contemplate washing my hair, laugh heartily and go about my dry shampoo + headband + mascara routine. 
 Should I even bother telling you this has #nofilter? 

By now Dustin has gotten our littlest out of bed (she's still in a crib and she loves every second of it, so I will not fix what's not broken) and is prepping breakfast for the kiddos (neither one of us really eats much if anything). We ring the bell and start the day together- kids noshing at the table, and us doing various bits of kitchen tidying, food prep and schedule swapping to prep for our day. The three big kids may or may not get dressed. They probably average around 70% pajama days and I couldn't care less. I try to encourage a least a bi-daily hair brushing session, but that's about as far as the "Bowden Academy Dress Code" dares to go.

8:45- Our nanny arrives and we all split up: the two youngest get to play, the two girls start on piano practice and school. Dustin and I try to make our mornings as meeting-free as possible so that we can be available to help them do their assignments. We've come a long way since the beginning of the school year, but we still struggle day by day to get everybody motivated and keep them (us) all happy. Some days we fly through the work...and some days we draaaaaaaaag our way through it. They have a mix of online programs, and more hands on work, and probably about 30-60% of it requires our help, so we try to strategize when we can wear our "teacher hats" what we can supervise while trying to also at least semi-participate in a conference call, and when we have to wag our angry "Not now, I am BUSY" fingers at them and let them fend for themselves. It's a constant dance. If we have actual important meetings that can't have a background soundtrack of "Money in My Pocket" we'll hide in Miller's room on a makeshift desk.

9:30- Thursdays are actually piano lesson day, so that breaks up the morning a little, with a half hour of Facetime instruction for each of them. They hate piano (despite having a lovely teacher, and both of them being quite good!) so usually at least one of them is crying about it, and we have to split up to sit with them to ensure the show actually goes on. 

 If you don't have a stuffie audience, why even play?
10:30- Snack time! Did you know human children have to eat every 17 minutes or they'll actually die? It's totally true! (Plus, I heard a rumor that it might apply to adults, so I've made sure to have a leftover brownie, or handful of cheese balls every hour or so for the last 7 months, just in case).

10:45- More school (with a side of work!) Maybe also with a dance party break to celebrate a successful iReady path (yoop yoop!
12:00 - Lunch! We give our nanny a lunch break, which I know is a little odd,'s what's working for us right now. I don't always like making lunch for everyone (can't I just ship them off somewhere and trust that they can scan their thumbprint in exchange for a square piece of pizza and some strawberry milk?) but I do like eating all together, so you take the good, you take the bad.  
They take about 15 seconds to eat either .27 or 4 sandwiches each (there is no in between) and then they're scattered all around the house again either finishing up assignments or making some god-awful mess (they call this "playing"). The little one will dawdle for a solid 45 minutes though, especially if there are any non-carbs involved. We use this time to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen because Groundhog Day actually comes bi-hourly around here in the form of food-related chores.
 Sometimes life's a picnic (especially when your kitchen is being remodeled)

12:30- The girls really try to wrap up their work by's a struggle to cram it all in the morning (especially if they spend the first 45 minutes of the day in Can't Even mode) but they lose momentum after lunch, so even if we're not technically done by 1ish, we're all almost emotionally done so we end up calling the ball regardless.

1:00- Our nanny returns, and we trade off quickly so we can jump on calls. (Is that a part of everyone's lexicon now? "I just have to jump on a call..." "Not now, I'm on a call." "Sorry guys, I have to jump to another call..." Even my toddler parrots these back to me now.)

1:40- Fin has a daily call for school (she jumps with considerable more style than we do) which we semi-manage (and often forget) while juggling other tasks. She is motivated entirely by sugar, so there is always a bubble gum or candy treat lined up for the moment she's done.

2:10-5:00- Work work work work work. (or for others: play play play play play play, or nap nap nap...ok you get it...). We finally get to enter "the zone" (as much as you can when you can absolutely still hear every blessed argument that is occurring on the other side of the bedroom/office/school/prison door.) The kids watch a show or two while the toddler naps, but mostly they play and craft and get into all sorts of wonderful mischief together. (During the six-ish months last year when we had no childcare, this portion of the day was called Twizzlers Are Your Mom Now, where we threw snacks and tablets at them and gave them explicit instructions to find us only if they're bleeding, and sometimes not even then... And while I can never actually turn off my "mom ears", having an actual adult here to prevent total free-for-all is a game-changer).
Pre-K is hard work. Especially when you spend most of it waiting for the 
2nd/3rd grade teacher to have time for you.

Sometime in this window I may also prep some dinner, or tend to a sourdough concoction. If it's a light meeting day, I might even escape for a few minutes to walk around the block. But mostly Dustin and I spend the afternoon trying to stay out of each other's camera view, and trying to knock out as much work as humanly possible to make up for time lost (and reduce the inevitable shift we'll have to put in later).


5- The nanny is off and we are on. No commute, no decompression time, no brain clearing podcast break, just the jarring switch from work-at-home to home-at-home. (or more specifically from my daytime role of trying to ignore all the home to-dos and just work, to my nighttime struggle of trying to ignore all the unfinished work and just be home).

5:30- What's that? It's time to eat again? The kids play/fight/whine while we get dinner ready. Then we all pray and answer "How was your day?" with a smile because you all know how my day was, you were literally there for all of it. We usually discuss a "Table Topic" (cards with question prompts that the kids are obsessed with), talk about Our Daily Fruit and plan what we're going to do that evening. (I always push for a bike ride, they try to sell me on movie night, we all agree to push bath night negotiations until tomorrow). Little Miss gets in trouble again for not eating dinner again, and then it's time guessed it...the third daily ceremonial Cleaning of The Plates. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

6:00-8:00- This window could be filled with any number of things. If it's at all nice outside, we try to take advantage and soak up a little sun/fresh air. The kids (and grown ups) get a little squirrely after too much time inside, so it's worth enduring a little moaning to get them moving. Otherwise we may play a game (we have too many favorites to even count...and certainly too many to actually store in our dedicated cabinets) or watch something together (old seasons of Amazing Race or HGTV's Design Star are current hits, while we wait for LEGO Masters to come back for season 2). There is also a 100% chance of treats happening at some point because every day's the same so every day might as well be a party.

 It's not Four Square until someone cries. (which with us, means it's always immediately Four Square).

8:00- Bedtime routine begins. And continues. And goes some more. They actually do most of the work themselves at this point (getting jammies on, brushing teeth etc) they just do it so. dang. slowly. (Constantly channeling Miranda Priestly: By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.)

And then we read. At least 1 book per kid, maybe 3. Sometimes all together. Sometimes in different pairs/trios. All I know is I see the sunset at least four times before they all finally make it into their beds. I've often said quarantine life is aging me like a wartime president, and this is partly why. (the other part lifestyle as a whole).

9:00- Me time! Aka: I'm just going to take a quick look at Instagram while I figure ou--- holy shizballs how is it 10:47?

I recently heard a term for this feeling/time of poor decision-making: Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (I'm in this article and I don't like it). I'm tired from my day, but also annoyed that it wasn't "my" day, so I stay up way later than I should because I want to, dang it. Most nights one or both of us has to work (how I haven't linked to this 9-5 meme yet, I'm not sure...) so we try to commit to a "stopping time" (which we always blow right on by) so that we can hang out. If we're not working, Dustin drums, and I try to muster the energy to play catch up on one of my ten zillion photo/video/journal/documentation projects (like this blog. META!)

11:00- Did I hear the bell for Second Dinner? (well, no, not actually, because I wouldn't want to wake Pavlov's dogs) but it does feel like a good time for a snack. (Nothing pairs with a viewing of Top Chef like Cheddar Easy Cheese and Kroger Brand Baked Wheat Crisp Crackers). We light the fire, snuggle up by the glow of Schitt's Creek and enjoy a drink or two, because Thursday is the new It Doesn't Even Matter Anymore. 

Still laughs at my jokes.

12:00- Our own bedtime routine is mercifully short, in part because we've already been in pajamas for hours if not days. I check my calendar for the morning which means I actually open up a digital crossword puzzle followed by a casual scroll down a rabbit hole to the end of the earth.

12:15 1:00 1:22- Good night!


ok, was that accurate? Maybe. Dark? A little. Entertaining in that have to laugh to keep from crying kind of way? Hopefully. 

Every day is a struggle. And a gift. And I mean that with all the perspective, irony, love and gratefulness in the world. Every morning may I cling to the hope and the truth that's here, even if it's sometimes buried juuuuuuust a bit: I can't believe I get to do this again.

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