It took approximately 24 hours of self-quarantine for the whole thing to really sink in, to be genuinely felt. And then — eventually — the kids and I found our self-quarantine groove. We are lucky; we were managing that just fine. Until now. Now, we have to transition custody, which is always a little complicated. Today? It’s nerve-wracking.
We are transitioning custody by and according to court order, by the same courts that are shut down and to which we can’t run and ask for temporary orders to maintain one site of quarantine or any other such crazy thing — I mean, not that that’s anything I thought of doing…none of us would do that, right?
Shared Custody: How We Flatten The Curve & Maintain Social Distance Through The Transitions
If you have one of those healthy, conscious uncoupling type of divorce situations, one site of quarantine is probably easier/safer/more efficient — and a super-selfless act, on both sides, if parents are willing to cooperate in that regard.
That’s not us.
In fact, that’s probably not many of us. Personally, I only have one friend who lives that story; I have a multitude of divorced custody-sharing friends of the other sort. So we’re all going to maintain our court ordered custody schedule at both homes — all of us, one big happy divorced family. And my nerves have effectively been re-wracked all over again as we enter our first custody swap under quarantine (says this admitted control-freak of a divorced mom). And I know I’m not alone.
I do feel for my ex. These crazy times are enough to bring us all together in the least expected of ways.
To his credit, my ex-husband/kids’ father was ahead of the curve and wanted the kids out of school before our local school district actually called it. We spoke (we don’t do that often) and agreed (we really don’t do that often) to pull the kids from school. No brainer. Done.
Let’s call last week the transitional period because in the last days: People went to work. Our kids went to school (through Thursday). My folks dropped off a set of LEGOs at the back door and said hello. Have you tried telling kids not to hug their grandparents, not to touch them, to back up six feet? Right.
The girls went across the street to play basketball with friends one day. We had pizza outside with a few neighbors for dinner. Four (seemingly) very small things, in a (seemingly) more controlled, not quarantined-but-cautious week. Of course, by the time Friday night rolled around, these four things kept me awake at night with regret and anxiety, as I realized, nope, this is real, and if we’re going to be home, we’re effectively choosing to self-quarantine, and we need to just do that: quarantine all the way or it doesn’t work.
So last week was last week. It was a week of awakening to a new day. Our self-quarantine — the real actual one — officially started late Friday/Early Saturday. And now we’re just doing it (our schools technically sent notice on Friday, for closures of two weeks, beginning Monday). In short order, we’ve come to appreciate that just staying out of school is not enough; it’s just one piece of this Complicated-AF puzzle.
Since then, there have not been (nor will there be in the foreseeable future), anyone other than us in our homes. Nor will there be any take-out food, shared play or food with anyone (even outdoors), no more drop-offs, no more anything. It feels inhumane, unnatural, isolating…it feels not good. But it is THE ONLY way to flatten the curve. And so, we’re doing it. And like I said, 24 hours later, we were in the groove of actually doing it and we’ve been doing so since.
Thankfully, my extended family, many of our friends, and a rather large majority of our community are also there. And then we text one another and ask what to do about the grandparent that wants to go golf, the parent who’s out running non-essential errands and setting up in-home playdates, the people who still want to go to restaurants, and the family, who shares a home with extended family practicing basically zero social distancing, and the adults who think they can live a normal life while the kids aren’t with them in a moment, and then just do the things while the kids are with them in another moment. I’ve heard all sorts of other peoples’ situations recently. And Nope. None of that works. We listen to one another, we encourage one another, we do the best we can. And then we text chat group ugh, at a time when there is no such thing as a group hug.
We, our immediate, albeit divorced, family, are a little more extra motivated to do this; we have an immune-suppressed, high-risk-kid. And we are lucky enough to have grandparents — who by nature of their ages are also high-risk. In order to actually keep him, them, and all others who are higher risk safe, and because we don’t even know what we don’t even know about who is actually at what risk, we really do need a herd mentality in this endeavor. Or it does not work. For any of us.
I’m an optimist. I kind of assumed we (by we I mean the whole world, to be clear) all read the same articles, and we were all on the same page about what self-quarantine and social distancing mean. And then I’ve learned, through various texts, chats, FaceTime sessions, phone calls, and FB posts, that nope. We are not.
So let’s try to get there, together, from a nice safe distance. Or at least to close the gap as best we can.
Again, to his credit, my ex/kids’ dad asked for another call, specifically to discuss “kid quarantine” in advance of our custody transition. And so we spoke again. We clarified a few things-in general. We almost managed to not have it be a contentious conversation, almost. High-five us. In the end, my kids are going to be picked up by him today and will spend the next 48 hours with him, and then they’ll come back. There is nothing I can legally do about that. I have ZERO real control over what happens in those 48 hours. I am nervous. This exercise, feels bigger than just the normal transition where kids go back and forth between the homes of their adult parents who’ve already proven that they don’t get along, don’t do things the same way, see the world differently.
And so I sat the kids down. We had a conversation. I asked them if they understand the rules right now. They told me that they do, but my eldest asked that I just write them down and send them to him please. And so here is my list for my kids, which is actually my imaginary control freak list to my ex, or if I’m real honest, is actually my imaginary control-freak list to the world right now:
A Control-Freak’s Rules For Social Distancing
1/ WASH. YOUR. HANDS – When you wake up, after you use the bathroom, before you eat anything, every time you sneeze, pick your nose, touch your face, use the XBox, laptop, and phone and the TV remotes. Pretty much every time you walk by a sink, just WASH. YOUR. HANDS.
2/ STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACES – Remind one another gently and with love. Call me out when you see me doing it. Roll your eyes when I call you out. That’s all OK. Just stop doing it as best you can. We can’t stop your baby sister from sucking her thumb right now. That’s not happening today. So lay off of that. Instead, STOP. PICKING. YOUR. NOSE. Use tissues. And then repeat step 1/ WASH. YOUR. HANDS.
3/ BLEACH WIPE THE SURFACES – Looking for something to do? Thinking you might be bored? Grab a bleach wipe or 10 and wipe: The door knobs, the faucets, the toilet flusher, the TV Remotes, The XBox Controllers, your headsets, the Switch. Then wipe the phones, the chargers, the laptops, and the iPads. When you are done, wipe the counters.
4/ NO TAKE-OUT FOOD – And obviously, we are not going out to eat. For now, we eat all of the well-stocked food in our own kitchen, whose packaging was all bleach wiped down as it entered the house and which we are super lucky to have, because not everyone does. (Might this seem extreme to some? Sure. We have a high risk kid. We can’t take any chances on who made the food right now. Painful as that might be, it’s not worth it right now.)
5/ NO ONE IS ALLOWED IN THE HOUSE. NO ONE. – Not our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Not our friends and neighbors. Not people we work with. No one. Not once. Not for just a minute. Not at all.
6/ WALK, HIKE, BIKE — These are your choices, and you are lucky to have them. When we leave the house, here’s what we are going to do while remaining 6 full feet away from anyone else doing the same, and after everyone has used the restroom because we aren’t using public restrooms (there are gloves in the car in case anyone really needs to.)
Take a Walk: Our City Streets are a wonderland to be discovered, all over again. If self-guided walks aren’t your thing, try these tours on Apps you can download. Daily, we walk random walks. Weekly, we’ll be adding one of these each week just for extra walk fun.
Take a Bike Ride: Our bike paths are plentiful. Here’s a short list to get your started.
Take a Hike: Our favorite easy-to-get-to hike is Rolling Hill Park. And we’re lucky to live a short distance from the Wissahickon too. And once when we are feeling a little more adventurous, here’s our next short list, and the one with waterfalls too for after that.
7/ EAT WHAT IS IN THE HOUSE – If we need more food, order groceries to be delivered, have them left at the door, and wipe them all down on their way in. Or send an adult to the store, who then washes their hands, bleach wipes all of the containers and packaging, and door knobs, and the car, and then washes their hands, after having changed their clothes. NO, you guys are not going to the store right now. And do not touch me if I just did, until I do all of the above.
8/ DO YOUR SCHOOL WORK – First thing, every morning, please do all of the work your heroic teachers have graciously assigned. Ask for help. We are here to help. Stay on top of it. Do not get caught in, “this isn’t due until we go back to school.” If it was assigned today, it’s due today. Get it done. After your work is done every day, please pack it all back up in your bag. Every day. All of it. So that come Wednesday morning, and all the Wednesday mornings, you aren’t searching a whole house for whatever you need to come back to your other house.
9/ SHOES OFF – We remain a shoes-off house. Always. Wipe your feet on a mat. Take them off, put them in your bin. And then go WASH. YOUR. HANDS.
10/ COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS – Remember to please appreciate these things, every day: We are healthy. Let’s stay that way. We have shelter, thankfully. We have food, thankfully. We have each other; be kind. And feel free to use all of the resources we are lucky to have here to communicate with your friends, because yes, that’s super important too. Love, Mom.
See? Just 10 easy to follow rules. No problem, right? Be well friends. All suggestions for how to do better are welcome and appreciated. According to all of our court-ordered, non-disparagement clauses, we won’t vent specifically about anyone, but feel free to share general frustrations, and even better, the solutions that have worked for your family.
And for all you married people that are ALL at home together, we send you love too! (That’s just not a post that I’m qualified to write).
PS: Follow along with me on Pinterest for more Home Inspiration and other random distraction via pretty visuals during these crazy times. xo A