Realizations In Quarantine

After being in home quarantine for 3 weeks now, I am happy to say that we – my family and I – are still okay. Some days, we drive one another crazy, and some days, we remember how lucky we are to be stuck with one another.

We are still adjusting to our new reality, which is most likely true for everyone all over the world. So much of our lives has changed in just three weeks. My calendar, which used to be filled with hosting gigs, voice over recording schedules, blogging events, and meet-ups with friends, is now replaced with super exciting activities like ‘disinfect the bathroom’ and ‘wash the fruits and vegetables – all 120 pieces of them,’ thanks to the coronavirus. What happened to my social life?! I might as well throw away my 2020 planner! Actually, can I chuck 2020 in the garbage bin while I’m at it?

It hasn’t been trouble-free all the time, but I don’t want to complain (or at least I don’t want to complain too much) because I know that we are still very lucky. We may not have a lot, but we have what we need (mostly) and we have one another. We are comfortable enough. We are SURVIVING.

As we settle into our new reality, here are some of my THOUGHTS DURING QUARANTINE:

Being a housewife is hard!

I don’t know about you, but I’m busier now than I was before this lockdown happened! During the pre-pandemic days, sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming were enough. Now, there’s that added task of disinfecting EVERYTHING – door knobs, light switches, footwear, and the list goes on and on. Also, it’s so ironic how there’s more laundry now that we’re just at home everyday as compared to when we used to go out all the time. It’s like our laundry basket just magically replenishes itself everyday! And don’t even get me started on meal planning. Thinking of what to cook and serve when resources are limited and you can’t just run to the grocery anytime makes planning 3 meals a day a little more taxing.

Doing chores isn’t a problem. But if you have an active toddler who follows you around everywhere like a shadow and often demands your full attention, getting shit done can be a lot more challenging!

This is my first time ever to be a full-time housewife since I’m not working at the moment, except for the very, very minimal and occasional voice over and content creation jobs. For safety reasons, we decided not to outsource any outside help like midwives or housekeeping personnel. This means that I do most of the chores myself, with some help from my husband. I’m honestly very exhausted! Now, I have more respect for all the housewives and moms out there! You are all amazing!!!

Kids are adjusting to their new normal too

Even before Andi started to learn how to walk and talk, she has always been one to go gallivanting around town. I bring her with me to all my social events, so at an early age, she was already used to going out. So now that she is forced to stay at home all day, everyday, she is struggling to adapt to this new routine. Some days, she would be an angel while some days, she’s a little monster, throwing tantrums and throwing things. When she’s being extra difficult, I sometimes lose my cool and snap at her. I forget that she’s a little human too, and she’s probably as overwhelmed as we adults are. It’s probably tougher for kids because they don’t know how to communicate their thoughts and feelings.

When she is giving me a hard time, I TRY (with emphasis on the word ‘try’) to remind myself that she is still adjusting, just like most of us. She hasn’t had fresh air or sunshine in weeks, except for whatever seeps through our window. She hasn’t interacted with another child in what feels like forever. Our tiny living room is her only playground. Of course she’s bored and frustrated! And she takes that boredom and frustration out on me.

It’s not easy, but every time I feel like she’s testing me, I just remind myself: “Patience, patience!” Patience is a virtue that I am admittedly still trying to learn and re-learn, especially now. I have to constantly remind myself to put myself in her baby shoes and remember that she needs all the understanding and comfort that she needs as she navigates through this unfamiliar season of her childhood.

“Got nothing else to do so I’l just sit here, be all emo, and finish all the quarantine snacks in one day.” – Andi

It’s VERY important to have an emergency fund

Experts say that you need to have an emergency fund, which is usually 3-6 months’ worth of your living expenses. Every time I got paid for my gigs, I would set aside a small portion of that amount. I’m so glad I did that because the money that I got to save is keeping us afloat during this pandemic! I may not have a lot of funds in the bank, but at least I have enough to tide us over FOR NOW.

This crisis made me realize just how important it is to save and have a financial safety net to fall back on. We never really know when life will throw us surprises such as this unexpected crisis. Our successful businesses and jobs could be gone in a snap. Of course, I still get stressed and anxious about this unpredictable and dreadful situation because I never know when things will normalize and when I’ll get to work and earn again, but at least, having a small stash of cash for emergencies somehow eases my worries a little.

Simplifying can save your life

In relation to saving, I am now seeing more value in simple living. Now that we are just at home all the time, I realized that we don’t really need much to function and to be truly happy. As I am sorting out things in our home, I pick up a few pieces that now make me think, “Do I really need this?” “I wish I hadn’t bought this” and “After the quarantine is over, am I ever actually going to use this?” The money that I used to buy those things could have been alloted to my emergency fund instead. This quarantine really opened my eyes to reduce my mindless spending.

I’ve also been trying to simplify while in quarantine in my own little ways. While I’d love to whip up a fancy gourmet meal, I’ve only been making simple dishes made of inexpensive ingredients so I can stretch our budget in case this lockdown gets extended. I also try not to give in to the temptation of ordering costly toys for Andi just so she’ll be entertained. We make do with what we have, we improvise, or if I really need to buy her something, it will be something moderately-priced.

Indulging in simple joys is good for your mental health

This is not to say that you should deprive yourself of things that make you happy. On Week 2 of the quarantine, I was badly craving for cake. I know, it sounds so petty to be thinking of cake at a time like this, but sweets are my weakness. I told Mike that I can take this whole home isolation thing, but if I don’t get my cake, I might go crazy! So I went ahead and ordered cake. But as a compromise, instead of devouring it all in one day, I cut it in reeeeeaaallly thin and small slices so I can ration it and make it last longer.

I’m all for minimalism and simplifying but I also believe that you should also treat yourself once in a while. Do something nice for yourself in moderation because it’s good for your mental health and it re-energizes you. And we all know how crucial it is to be happy and sane right now!

Whatever happens, just make sure to do it FOR YOURSELF, and not with the intention of trying to impress other people. Trying to keep up with others and trying to live an ‘Instagram-worthy life’ will bring you nothing but temporary happiness… and probably a lot of useless stuff to declutter later, or worse, debt.

Grab that chance to travel when you can, because you never know when that chance will run out

Last March 7th, my family, my best friend, and I went on a 2-day trip to Pico de Loro resort. The next day, we received news that there were already 6 confirmed cases in the Philippines. We weren’t too alarmed. 6 didn’t seem THAT bad. But then, it jumped from 6 TO 24 CASES CASES IN JUST TWO DAYS! That escalated quickly!

Our trip was a semi-spontaneous decision, which we planned just two weeks before. We were even choosing between March 7 or March 14. Luckily, we went with the earlier date because by March 14th, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases grew so significantly and rapidly that the community quarantine was enforced the very next day, and travel was no longer an option. Looking back now, we’re all glad that we went ahead and had that vacation. We had an awesome time, and we enjoyed what I thought would be the first of many adventures for this summer. I had no idea that that was, in fact, going to be the last.

When the virus is gone (or when a cure is finally found) and the world opens up again, please travel if you can and if you are blessed with the means to do so. It doesn’t even have to be luxurious. Even a day tour or overnight trip somewhere close to where you live will do. Being locked down at home made me want to see more beautiful places and have more memorable experiences with my family when this is all over. Sometimes, when I’m sad and having cabin fever, looking at our old travel photos makes me smile. These photos bring me back to happy times and make me look forward to having more of those. It’s true: travel is an investment. It’s the one thing I spent on that still gives me gratification after all this time.

Our first summer adventure for this year. We had no idea that it was going to be our last!

It’s okay not to be okay

If you look at my posts on Instagram and blog, you’ll find mostly ‘happy posts.’ It’s easy to think that I’m always cheerful and that I’m not struggling, stressed, afraid, or worried. But I AM. Of course I am! I do get paranoid and sometimes I even have anxiety attacks. I worry for myself and for my family, and this keeps me up at night so I have to listen to calming music or meditations to help me fall asleep.

Look, it’s okay not to be okay. It’s fine to acknowledge that you are feeling heavy, scared, or sad. You can be strong while also admitting your weakness. You can be optimistic about the future while being restless about the uncertainty of it. You can feel fulfillment and exhaustion both at the same time.

And remember, it’s okay to ask for help! If it will make you feel better, talk to someone. Sometimes, you just need to let things out to feel better.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

It’s easy to be stressed about the little things these days. The messy house. The dinner that you burned. That annoying comment you received on your Facebook post. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to let the inconsequential things take up too much of your mental space and get the best of your emotions.

This is something that I’ve only started to learn recently (as in TODAY. Haha!). For days now, I’ve been exasperated because Andi’s sleeping habits have changed drastically since this quarantine happened. Because she doesn’t get to play outdoors and burn all her energy, she is less tired and she now has shorter sleeps and wakes up ridiculously early… like 5:00 AM early!!! When I realized she was up and had no plans of going back to sleep, I whimpered and said, “No, no, no… This can’t be happening!” I’m upset because: a) It’s not healthy for both her and me, and b) I already didn’t have enough time for myself to begin with, and now, I’ll have even less time! I’ve been feeling like a zombie these days because her shortened sleep means less sleep for me too, which, consequently, makes me crankier and more lethargic.

I’ve tried everything from moving her activities one hour earlier to making sure she’s full before she goes to bed, but to no avail. I was really not happy about this change, but I told Mike: “I don’t want to stress about it anymore.” I didn’t want to spend all my time and energy forcing something that is obviously not happening. I’ve learned to just accept Andi’s new routine and work around it. I decided to just follow her cues, as long as she is still healthy and happy. Of course, I’m not giving up and I still try to find solutions to the problem, but if they backfire, I have decided not to be too bothered by it. I am still bothered by it, but not as much as before.

This lockdown messed up Andi’s sleeping habits!

Here’s an excerpt from the book I’m currently reading, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck’:

“Because when you give too many fucks – when you give a fuck about everyone and everything – you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the fucking way you want it to be. This is a sickness. And it will eat you alive. You will see every adversity as an injustice, every challenge as a failure, every inconvenience as a personal slight, every disagreement as a betrayal. You will be confined to your own petty, skull-sized hell, burning with entitlement and bluster, running circles around your very own personal Feedback Loop from Hell, in constant motion yet arriving nowhere.”

Don’t be plagued by productivity (or the lack of it)

Now that I have all the time in the world, I should be making good use of it, right? Well, I may not be working at the moment, but I still don’t have as much free time as I thought I would have. I was hoping that I’d get to read one book a month but I’m still on the first few pages of the e-book I bought a month ago. I tried looking for remote work that wouldn’t eat up too much of my time (you know, because I have a toddler) but I haven’t had any luck. I’ve been meaning to edit and create more vlogs, and I still haven’t uploaded anything in months. I had so many plans that haven’t materialized yet because I’ve been too busy doing other things like making sure our home is livable and that we have food every day.

Sometimes, I envy other people when I see how much they have accomplished during this quarantine. Sometimes, at night, I ask myself, “What happened to my day? Where did the time go?” It’s weird, but I feel both busy and yet unproductive at the same time. But this quarantine made me realize two things:

1. ‘Productivity’ has different meanings for every person.
Maybe other people’s definition of productivity is working from home or completing an intricate project. Maybe for others like me, it’s simply managing a household or spending time with my child — playing with her, feeding her, cuddling with her, and doing kids yoga or having dance parties with her. We make our own judgment about what is important to us and how we spend our precious time.

2. Now is NOT the time to obsess about productivity
We are going through a global quandary here. I don’t think anyone is expecting us to cross off every single thing in our to-do list. We are already under a lot of pressure, and we shouldn’t be adding any more pressure to ourselves. I think we are all being asked to slow down right now. Of course, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone because some people don’t have the luxury of taking breaks because of their profession (e.g. the frontliners) or because they have to make ends meet. But if you are lucky enough to be able to pause and relax, go ahead and take advantage of that.

It’s okay to get things done. It’s okay to do nothing too. Whatever you choose, just don’t be too hard on yourself.

Watching movies, writing, reading daily devotionals, tidying up, resting, and making time for self-care — my simple joys during quarantine. This is my definition of ‘productive’ these days.

We owe our survival to the frontliners and we should never ever take them for granted again.

All the restaurant staff who prepare our food, the delivery guys who tirelessly bring goods to us, the supermarket workers who work round the clock to make sure we get our necessities, our condo’s guards and housekeeping personnel who protect us and take care of us as we stay in our homes, the business owners who continue to operate so we can have access to the things and services we need to survive, the sanitation engineers who keep our surroundings tidy so we don’t get sick, the healthcare and military workers who expose themselves and sacrifice their own health, safety, and lives to help stop the spread of this disease – we applaud and salute all these frontliners for their incredible bravery and selflessness. They are the ones who give our lives some sense of normalcy and order. It is because of them that many of us can enjoy the privilege of staying home and survive the crisis. I cannot even imagine how we would function without them. Seriously, how?! We owe them big time! Let us never forget how they have saved and served us, and let us show them extra, EXTRA kindness and respect because they deserve it.

In choosing a life partner, ask yourself: “Is this someone I wouldn’t mind being in quarantine with?”

I’m not kidding. That should be in your partner checklist, if you haven’t found a partner yet. Remember, you’re going to be with this person EVERY SINGLE DAY. Trust me, you’re going to hate to be stuck at home with a deadbeat who won’t even help you with house chores or someone who makes you feel miserable instead of cheering you up in this unfavorable situation. I’m glad I married Mike because even if we do argue sometimes like normal couples do, most of the time, we are able to live peacefully and comfort each other. It also helps that he gives amazing back massages (since there are no available massage services right now), he is handy around the house (anything that’s broken, he’ll fix it), and most importantly, he kills the cockroaches for me!

In sickness, in health, and now, in quarantine

Trying to live a normal life when we know that things aren’t really normal right now is not always easy, I know. But we can do this!!! Look, we already made it to Week 3! There’s nothing we can do now but to pray that Covid-19 will go away, believe that we’ll be okay, and to stay at home, of course. 🙂

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