Since school shut down, I haven’t screamed at the kids and no one’s cried.

We wake up when we’re ready and color together before breakfast. I’m taking my boys on long bike rides every day. It’s spring and it’s beautiful. They come home exhilarated and exhausted. We’re playing in the backyard, busting out the bubbles, the stomp rocket, the kickball. Some of these things my 4-year-old has never even seen before, life of a second kid. One morning, we baked blueberry scones (from a mix; let’s not get too crazy).

We chalked the longest word in the English language on our sidewalk and run to the window when passers-by stop to study it. It’s pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Spell check didn’t flag it when I typed it out just now, which means it’s legit.

My kids and I are incredibly lucky that I’m a stay-at-home parent — I know that; I truly feel for all the parents trying to work from home with kids climbing all over them.

There’s a meme going around: And just like that, no one ever asked a stay-at-home mom what she does all day ever again. My typical days are not boring.

Let’s get this straight: I am not the fun mom. In pre-pandemic times, the minute we get home from school, it’s a race to eat, do homework, eat again and go to bed, with me hollering at the kids the whole time. Piano, math, writing! Hurry, hurry, HURRY! Every day, someone’s in tears. When the house is finally quiet, I clean up the disaster of a living room, scrub a mountain of lunchboxes and water bottles and prep to do it all over again the next day.


But guess what? I’m not cracking the whip to get out the door anymore. I’m rocking the messy bun and comfy flats and a whole new attitude. We’ve got time to work on life skills. My preschooler’s face lit up when he figured out his zipper on his own. He learned how to push off himself on a pedal bike, how to draw talk bubbles, how to put on his own underwear and pants. By the time preschool starts again, he’ll be making dinner (a mom can dream).

My third-grader is a reluctant writer at best, ironic because he’s the child of two journalists. Now that we’re freed from homework, I stapled notebook paper inside a construction paper cover so he could be a Real Author. He sat down and scribbled out a nonsense story riddled with spelling and punctuation errors … And I overlooked it, because for the first time in a very long time, he was excited about writing. “There aren’t enough pages in this book,” he complained. “I need to write the rest of my story.” Well, that’s a first.

A $30,160-a-year private elementary school put all its distance learning materials online, free for anyone to use. As much as I love free stuff (I do, a LOT), we haven’t been glued to the laptop studying up on how to be prodigies. Parents are being hit over the head with a million free online resources. We do the 20-minute Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, and then spend a lot of time sprawled out rereading favorite books.

My heart sank when I saw our classroom teacher’s name pop up in my inbox. She was assigning us homework? It’s optional? It’s not being graded? Delete.

People are very sick and we’re not treating this time as vacation. We’ve turned down playdates and stayed clear of the playground. All the places my kids like to go — The Children’s Museum, the Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo — are closed.

How many more weeks will schools be closed? I’m not crossing off the days, just crossing all my fingers and toes that we stay healthy. School and work will eventually ramp up to full speed again. Until then, blow some bubbles and enjoy this bonus time together.