Finding your village in the age of COVID isolation
First-time moms are often taken aback at how isolating maternity leave can be. Before the baby, you may have had visions of getting the house in order and having homemade meals prepped and ready to go during your downtime. After the baby? You realize there’s no such thing as downtime. You spend your waking moments tending to your screaming child, and you can go days without speaking to another adult, aside from your spouse. Now with COVID-19, things can feel even worse. While you may not have had coffee dates lined up before, you can’t even go for one now. How do you find your village while on maternity leave when you can’t leave the house?
You were up three times last night and you haven’t showered since Tuesday. The last thing you want to do is get dressed and leave the house, especially since there’s nowhere to go anyway. But being outside can help lift spirits and refresh your mood. You’ll have to stay away from busy parks and boardwalks, but a walk around the neighbourhood will help keep you active and provide plenty of healthy stimulation for your growing babe (look, a birdie!). You may even run into some neighbours or fellow moms you can have a quick (distanced) chat with.
You might be missing the old days of playdates and baby gym classes, but to be honest, they weren’t always that convenient. Your little one might have been grumpy from a bad night, teething, or somehow settled into a nap routine that corresponds exactly with parent and tot swim time. (It’s a wonder you managed to make it to any sessions at all.) With social distancing, the pressure’s off! Virtual meetups and classes can happen anytime — just fire up your browser to access the latest baby yoga video when your sweetpea is in the mood. Video calls with friends and relatives are likely to be just as flexible and can give you a bit of much-needed adult interaction as well.
Your spouse and older kids might be driving you crazy, but they’re your primary social network until the pandemic winds down. If you’ve ever wished for more downtime to enjoy with your family, here’s your opportunity! With no commutes, after-school programs, or business trips, you suddenly have all the time you could have ever dreamed of (and then some). Indulge big(ger) kids with activities like board game nights and camp-outs in the living room or backyard. Or wait until the tots are asleep to enjoy some adult time with take-out and a movie. Is anything better than eating restaurant food in your sweats?
Social butterfly or not, this time of self-imposed isolation is tough on everyone. Even the most introverted among us enjoy getting out of the house on occasion. It might be hard, but try to enjoy this time for what it is. There’s a good chance that once this all blows over, you’ll look back on this period — of solitude, quality time, and baby snuggles — with fondness.
Kimberly Leung hails from Toronto and moonlights as a freelance writer and content creator. She likes her coffee regular, her cereal sugary, and her meals cooked by someone else. She loves her kids but she can’t wait for the day they stop waking up at 5:30AM (and no, a later bedtime doesn’t work). She lives in a tiny house with her husband, 2 kids and their middle-aged cat.