What it’s Actually Like to be Quarantined with a 5-Year-Old and a 3-Year-Old

What it’s Actually Like to be Quarantined with a 5-Year-Old and a 3-Year-Old

Weeks ago, no one could predict the world we would be living in. We undoubtedly took many of our luxuries and freedoms for granted.

Today, we find ourselves in an unprecedented time where we are quarantined at home without the ability to go to many of the places that our former lives afforded us. However, I am finding hope, humor and irony in a lot of our daily happenings and this is what it has been like for me.

My 3-year-old is snacking.
Maybe this isn’t a surprise at all. She has always had a voracious appetite, but it is nonstop. She would rather follow me around the house asking for snacks than play with a toy. The only silver lining here is that she is an adventurous eater, so most of her snacks are healthy. She is obsessed with shredded cheese, rice, quinoa, chickpeas, beans, watermelon and loves most other fruits and vegetables. She refuses to eat most bread forms (waffles, bagels, toast, sandwiches, pancakes) but will eat pasta, cereal and crackers. I ordered a subscription to an imperfect produce delivery service, which gets us very excited each week to try new fruits and vegetables. That’s it, folks. Fruits and vegetables are our excitement these days.

Fun parents don’t always win.
For Christmas, my 3-year-old got a toy called Orbeez, which are little beads that you pour in a bin with water and they swell up to create a cool bubble sensory experience. She loves this kind of thing. Give her a couple of measuring cups and she will play for a solid 20 minutes before asking for a snack. Last week during quarantine, my husband got the idea to fill a baby pool with the Orbeez and bring it inside. This was such a cool parent idea! Imagine how fun it will be to get into a bathing suit and “swim” through these cool water beads! In an hour, the beads had absorbed enough water for the kids to get in. The bathing suits went on. The kids stepped in. They felt the cold water beads on their toes. They reached down to touch them and then it happened. It sounded like water was running. It wasn’t. Well, something was running but it wasn’t water. And it was down the leg of my 3-year-old. She peed in the pool of Orbeez. My initial thought was to get her out and strain them into a colander to rinse them, clean the pool and they can play. But no. You see, Orbeez absorb liquid and pee is not an exception. The pee-filled Orbeez were thrown in the garbage and the kids took a bath instead. Wah waaaaaaaaaaah.

My 5-year-old is reading.
I am not going to take the credit for this because I don’t know if this would have happened had we not been in quarantine. He turned 5 years old six days before the quarantine started. This has got to be a huge cognitive leap, but I never expected weeks later for him to be reading. He’s sounding out words and reading books. On our way to a park one day he sat in his booster seat and asked if I’d like a sip of his natural spring water. I turned around and he was reading the label of his water bottle. This is impressive. His teacher suggested we start labeling things in the house so my current situation is that there is a post-it note on almost everything we own. We remove them and he has to place them again. I made flash cards for him. I write them and he has to trace them or write them himself. It’s incredible. He is getting one on one reading lessons from me every single day and it’s working like crazy. I’m incredibly proud and shocked and grateful and, OK fine, I will take credit in that I had at least a small role in this.

Ingenuity is at its best.
We have a large hand-me-down set of Lincoln Logs that my Mom gave to us a while ago. They generally stay stored away in my son’s closet because neither of my kids has ever really been into building with them. I took them out during quarantine to see if we could come up with something creative and the three of us began to build a house. When we were placing the roof on the house, I pointed out that my 5-year-old did not include doors or windows. He said that it was so that the coronavirus could not get in and infect the three Lego people that were trapped inside. Yep. That’s where we are at.

We have slowed the heck down.
This has been the best part. We take family walks after dinner on most days, even if it’s cold. We spend time walking around our pond and one day spent 40 minutes catching and releasing a frog. We play board games as a family. My husband and I play board games together after the kids go to bed. This isn’t a weekend thing anymore… it’s a new routine.

We are grateful for the Lake Metroparks.
We visit one of the parks almost every afternoon that the sun is shining. It’s our outlet to get some exercise, burn off energy and leave the house. Each trip starts with, “Is there a playground at this park?” and then it typically goes downhill after we explain we are just going on a hike. You see, 5-year-old and 3-year-old legs don’t like to walk two miles, but there is just simply nothing else to do. They can make it about 11 minutes before we have to start switching off who is carrying who or piggy-backing who. It’s an incredible workout for parents. Try it.

This quarantine has been hard and stressful at times. But among all the parent fails and child fails are some really great times. We are making family memories that will last forever. I’ve heard, “this was the best day ever” more times in the last several months than I ever have before. Our silver linings are abundant and for that I am forever thankful.

About the author

Renee Sanden
Hi! I'm Reneé Sanden and I am Cora And Leo's Mom (C.A.L.M in CLE). I stay at home with my two kids but I rarely ever "stay home" as we are always visiting some kid-friendly event or location in the area. I married an incredible man (Adam) and we share a pretty amazing life together in Mentor. When I'm not with my kids, I like to golf, go out to dinner with friends and travel. My life has changed in major ways since having kids that are 17 months apart, but I couldn't possibly be any happier. I know as Moms we are supposed to say that, but I mean it. I don’t miss my pre-kids life. Except for maybe the sleep. And the quiet. Other than that, I’m good.


  1. Again you win the Top Mother award. Good job.

  2. Sally Gerboth

    Well done Renee!! I always love your stories!! You are a wonderful mother!! It is not an easy job!! One of the hardest but you do it beautifully!!💖

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