Writing Challenge Day 16: The Growing Pandemic Family

My household is small—it’s my husband, my dog, and myself. Since March, we’ve said on countless occasions how lucky we are to live in a split-level home. If it weren’t for the two floors, I’m not sure how we’d have made working from home a success with our dueling calls and responsibilities. I’m not a quiet person, Asa is very loud, and Blazedog (whom some of you may have seen on Instagram) is an incredibly vocal dog... you could say we haven’t really nailed inside vs. outside voices. During the workday, I’m posted up in our dining room, Asa’s in the basement (it’s well-lit, not a dungeon!), and Blaze pads from sunbeam to sunbeam.

Despite the situation at hand, we’ve made it work and have spent more time together then either of us would’ve ever imagined. Blazedog is the real winner in our familial equation—daily walks (that dude is in the BEST shape of his life), post-call belly rubs, and now he has round-the-clock human companions. It’s the life all rescue dogs dream of!

For years it’s just been the three of us. We have our routines, our quirks, and above all, we each have our own forms of “therapy” that keep us Zen. Traditionally, I turned to the gym to relieve my stress while my husband plugged into his Xbox. At the end of the week PP (Pre-Pandemic) we’d both unwind at a local brewery surrounded by friends. Between businesses closing doors, new restrictions to ensure our safety, and increased virtual fatigue, those habits have changed. The pandemic rocked so many aspects of our lives.

Necessity is the mother of invention, so we’ve found new ways and rediscovered old passions to keep our relationship and family dynamic strong. Our kitchen and love for music, as Marie Kondo says, spark joy.

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While Asa and I have always cooked together, we’ve made it a point to introduce new recipes to each week’s menu. Meal planning and prep used to be the bane of our existence, now Sunday nights you’ll find us flipping through cookbooks our scouring new food blogs (checkout Half Baked Harvest... you won’t regret it) as we source our plates for the upcoming week. Cooking has evolved into rehashing our favorite concerts or throwing on random playlists allowing us to discover new artists and genres! No, our kitchen doesn’t resemble our favorite restaurant scenes, nor does it have quite the crowds (or spilled beverages) that concert venues offered but finding these activities to strengthen our relationship has been so gratifying.

Beyond creating new habits and routines this year, our family is embracing new titles in 2021: Mom, Dad, and big brother.

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The world sure doesn’t resemble much of what I thought it would, and despite all the uncertainties, I am certain of a few things:

  • When you’ve seemingly reached your wit’s end, your dog will find a way to test it... and you’ll *eventually* get a good laugh from whatever that test may be.
  • I am overjoyed and nervous about the arrival of our son in 2021, but I think my husband is most excited for “mystery” packages to STOP arriving at our house and to have a reprieve from nursery projects.
  • Our definition of families, especially our pandemic bubble families, looks different for us all, making them each so unique. The people you surround yourself with, by choice or by blood, can be a real source of strength, light, and love.

Tell me about your families! What’s the routine you’ve struck (or...maybe more appropriately, routines you’ve tested)? How have you shifted the dynamic or what new activities have you taken on in your household? Any new family members...furry or human?

Anonymous

Top Comments

  • Congrats again !

    I can honestly say that my immediate family has not grown since the pandemic started, but we did get a dog this year pre-pandemic. She has been a destructive and yet loving force in our lives this year.

    We will have a new baby in the extended family next year, though, and are happy to be happy for all those with new babies(whether they be human or not)!

  • Many thanks to everyone for your well wishes! We are very excited... still working on the dog so he recognizes he's no longer "the baby" but he'll come unto his own. 

     love the socially distant driveway hangs! Early on we did that with some family + small friends who'd been doing their part to isolate in advance of our dates. It was such a great way to connect, safely! It's gotten cold here in North Carolina so we've had to cease those and pick our Zoom meetings back up. I also 100% endorse getting a dog...if you need a testimony for Deb, happy to oblige. 

     sounds like you guys have your hands full!! 

     I feel the same way about our dog. His "new routine" will be totally disrupted when I go back - fortunately, my husband has always been fully remote...so if he needs a human he can pad downstairs. We also did a few upgrades to my husband's office space! The basement's carpet looked like something out of Portland's airport - adding new padding + carpet down there has not only made it more comfortable, but it absorbs how loud Asa gets on his calls 

     I couldn't agree with you more!! As much as I love a quick destress snuggle with Blaze, he also always provides a good mid-day laugh. Dogs are the best. 

     we love cooking, but I know our meal planning and prep is going to drop significantly when our little guy makes his entrance. I hope Monty is on the up and up with the help of your local rescue!! 

     thank you so much! I can definitely relate - I recently was able to see a few members of my immediate family, for the first time in a year. It's not been easy but it was the safe thing to do: our time apart made us cherish this reunion and made it all the sweeter! Hope you and your family enjoy the approaching holiday season as well  

     how funny! I've got my stationary bike downstairs...sometimes my dog will follow and watch, or if I'm on the yoga mat he tries to participate (with little success). I couldn't agree with you more - our 4-legged companions can be some of the best sounding boards!

     I definitely understand the bandwidth game... we live in a much older home and despite making some tweaks, my husband and I still do our best to understand who *absolutely* needs to have their video on their calls. In some cases, we've hit a rock-paper-scissors situation, but we've made it work none the less! 

     thank you!! It's certainly been an interesting ride and I have to give ALL the kudos to my doctors and their practice for all the additional measures they're taking to keep us safe. I love hearing how you've helped orchestrate regular calls with family - it isn't the same but it certainly keeps us all bonded when it's easy to get down. We did several virtual Thanksgiving calls with family members, and there's been talk of some virtual cookie decorating with some of my familial counterparts as we head into the holidays. Should be an adventure - now if only Zoom had smell-o-vision so I could at least be left with all the sweet aromas for those calls  

  • Congrats. A co-worker of mine just welcomed a new son this year. The pandemic definitely had a impact on how things went, changed the whole plan. Thank goodness for midwives!

    The biggest change is we "see" our families more now. We reach out to both sides every two weeks, alternating between my wife's and mine. So we at least get some time just us and the dog each weekend.

    We have always lived away from family and were used to phone calls. But because so many in our extended family are in at risk categories they are isolating. Which is hard on them as many live alone. They are used to gathering together all the time, but now not so much. The change in dynamic means that the video calls are a good compromise. We get thanked every week for arranging them. Being a geek sure helps. It is like using you super power for the family good, and not just can you fix the Wi-Fi!

  • Telecommuting to work & school from a rural location, with limited bandwidth, just doesn't work in some situations.  I'm grateful my kids moved out and graduated from college in the last year.  Keeping bandwidth free for work, and for personal surfing after hours, while hosting two teenagers (who believe 7x24 audio AND video is required for a "normal" life) is an exercise in education and understanding and compromise.

    It's also another one of those little boosts out of the nest for the young ones, much as I miss them.  We get along great through televisits, though, and I'll be glad when we can again spend holidays and vacations together as a family, instead of virtually over Zoom or its competitors.

    It'll be great when, one day, we have technology out here in the woods like we do in the city.

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  • Congrats !   Those are both awesome pictures!

    I have two cats with very different personalities and they both are enjoying me being home.  I work out early before work. My workout area is in my basement and they both usually have to come down and be by me during that time.  While I work, Bobbi is always by my side, usually sleeping.  I have learned that when she wants attention to give it to her - it is much easier than trying to ignore her and having to deal with her clawing and/or yelling at me until she gets the attention.  My other cat moves around the house all day.  She doesn't need much attention and  I love watching her play while I work.  Anyway, they give me some interaction so I can make it through a day without going absolutely nuts.  Too much alone time can do that!