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Furlough Story: Surviving, not thriving.

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Surviving, not thriving. If you asked me two and a half weeks ago how I would describe two parents both working full time from home while trying to entertain (read: corral) a three year old and a nine month old, this is what I would have told you:

Our days were filled with planning out the Zoom calls for work that my husband and I both had almost daily while debating who would be in charge of lunches, walking the dog, attempting to get our son to pay attention to his Facebook Live music class, overseeing art projects, managing tantrums, and getting the kids down for naps (thank GOD for naps).

It was hard and exhausting.

But a month in, we had finally begun to find our rhythm of the day-in and day-out at home with our two young boys. Except, then I was furloughed.

We aren’t the stay-at-home type of people. Or at least we weren’t, prior to quarantine.

A running joke with our friends and family was, “Where are you headed this weekend?” We lived and died by our Outlook calendars with daycare pick-ups, Philadelphia Zoo or Please Touch Museum hangouts with friends, swimming classes, and dinner dates. Getting out of the house on the weekends was just something that helped pass the time and a way to fill our “social cup”. Not only did it make my husband and I happy but it was something our boys, especially our toddler, had grown accustomed to.

(Talk about tough: everyday for the first two weeks of quarantine he woke up asking, “Mommy, where are we going today?”)

Learning to stay home all the time was an exercise in patience for all of us.

But then that call came.

The one that completely shook up our new “normal” for at least a couple of months, potentially longer. It came while I was feeding the baby his bottle and our toddler was having his approximately 3rd tantrum of the day. So, as a mom, you process things and move-on to the next play-doh creation, story time, Sesame Street episode, or dance party in your living room. (For the record, the “belly” deep breathing exercises that Sesame Street promotes to their target viewership also work for adults!)

Amazingly, you also feel a slight twinge of relief that one of the adults in the house will be able to focus full-time on the kids after feeling immense guilt for weeks - guilty that you can’t play with them every time they ask due to work. If there’s a silver lining in being furloughed, it’s being able to spend more time with my sweet boys – getting to read all the stories, play all the games, and yes – deal with all the tantrums – but also enjoy ALL the hugs.

Surviving, not thriving. And for right now, that is okay.

Post written by: Megan Phelan

Please share your quarantine story with us!

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