Social Distancing Day 1,512

I saw a post on Facebook recently that made me laugh out loud. It was something along the lines of “finding out that your normal everyday life is called quarantine”. As a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids under 4, it felt pretty spot on!

To be honest, my days of social distancing began pretty soon after my oldest daughter was born in 2016.

Before the days of COVID-19, our travel restrictions were self-imposed most of the time, simply because it takes so much energy just to get everyone out of the house and into their car seats.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put myself “together” before leaving the house only to look like a frazzled mess by the time the car actually pulls out of the driveway. After wiggling three pairs of socks and shoes onto tiny feet, zipping up three jackets, chasing at least one “runner” down the driveway, buckling three five-point harness car seats, and lugging a stroller and over-sized diaper bag into the trunk of the van, my hair is almost always a mess and I’ve probably (definitely) worked up a sweat. Why even bother?!

Whether you have one kid or five, you were probably already aware of the art of social distancing long before coronavirus turned our world upside down.

Avoiding taxing or unnecessary social interactions seems to come with the territory of motherhood, especially when the kids are still really young. If you have more than one child, it probably feels like at least one kid is always sick or sniffly during cold and flu season, which forces you to social distance until their symptoms clear (just in time for the next kid to develop symptoms).

Or maybe you just had a baby and a friend invites you to dinner, but none of your pre-pregnancy clothes fit and the thought of doing your hair and makeup feels overwhelming with a baby that needs you 24/7. Time to social distance.

Perhaps you were invited to an event that isn’t kid-friendly, but can’t find or afford a babysitter. Social distancing strikes again!

Maybe a new friend asks you to host or attend a play date, but you’re worried about the way your house looks or are concerned that your energetic kids might cause some property damage at her place. You guessed it… social distancing.

You could say I’m already a pro at this whole social distancing thing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opted out of going somewhere or doing something because of the assumed hassle it might bring, or the fear of my kids misbehaving and being judged for it.

And yet, this quarantine period has been different than normal everyday life. Even though we didn’t get out terribly often before all this, we at least had church once a week, occasional grocery store trips to kill some time, and the older two kids are finally old enough to enjoy the playground equipment. So even this stay-at-home mama is getting STIR CRAZY, despite being a homebody to start with!

I find myself looking for excuses to take the kids for a ride in the minivan, and we have started going on walks twice a day (weather permitting) to burn some of this nervous energy off. You couldn’t have convinced me a few months ago that by the end of May, I would be itching for some kind of summer social event to happen where I could bring all three kids with me (including the newborn). And yet, here we are!

It may have taken a pandemic to re-frame my mindset, but I am slowly getting there.

If nothing else, COVID-19 will end up giving me a little perspective. Instead of viewing these opportunities with anxiety or as an inconvenience, I will learn to appreciate the option of bringing my rambunctious kids out in public. Instead of worrying if my house is clean enough for company, I’ll welcome the chance to mess it up a bit. Instead of getting worked up because my hair is ALREADY messed up before we leave the house, I’ll just rock that messy bun and remind myself that my family and friends care less about my hair, and more about me making the effort to be present with them.

Perhaps the next time I have the choice between social distancing and (safely) social gathering, I will gladly choose the latter.

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Alicia is a stay-at-home mom to Claire (5), Drake (4), and Kate (1). After growing up in western Iowa, Alicia ventured east to attend the University of Iowa and graduated in 2014 with a Political Science degree, and a minor in English. When she isn’t chasing kids, she loves finding time for scrapbooking, going on walks around the neighborhood, and watching any and every home renovation show! Alicia loves staying involved in her community, mainly through spending time in her church and volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters. With three kids under five, her advice to moms with young kids is: “prayer, coffee, and then a little more of each!”