Quarantine Diaries is a communal project of stories from our readers about how they are managing their lives during the coronavirus crisis. In this piece, readers share how they are taking care of their children 24/7.
You can read the five-part project here.

I’m not sure that I was mentally prepared for both boys to be home, but it’s been more calm than chaos. I had to give up my public health classes in order to give my youngest more of my time. As much as I was looking forward to those classes and seeing my other son in a tuxedo for the first time for his prom, we adjusted to a new normal, as has been the case since my youngest was diagnosed with autism.

The photos show a little of our quarantine story as we have grocery trips to help others, do art projects, have mini pool parties to replace the weekly swim lessons, learn to play chess and take time out to make other kids smile by putting together Easter baskets. I’ve realized that as long as we are all finding some balance, we can continue to grow. This predicament that we’re all in is a time for us to reflect, reset and reemerge as better people and a stronger family.

Tanesha Boldin, 48, from Cary, North Carolina. Pictured above: Her sons Sebastian, 6, and Blake, 17

Self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic looks different for every family. I was quickly reminded how resilient kids are when the world around them zigs instead of zags. Because our son couldn’t play with his friends, he made new imaginary playmates and found make-believe games to entertain himself. Walks around the block turned into ninja adventures, and bath time became a prehistoric event. I quickly realized that I wasn’t actually documenting life-altering changes. Instead, I was documenting the everyday possibilities of a child. The ups and downs of everyday life. So in my attempt to document a historic event, I realized that every day is a historic event filled with moments we can never get back.

Jason Vinson, 37, from northwest Arkansas. Pictured above: His son, Zayden, 2

The day I went back to work from maternity leave and enrolled my then-5-month-old son in full-time child care is the exact day I got an email — two hours into my morning back at the office — that his school would be closing indefinitely. This was March 12, which is also ironically my wedding anniversary. The next day, my company issued a work-from-home order that has since extended past the initial two-week period they anticipated. I never imagined I would be adjusting back into my full-time managerial role while taking care of my infant all day. I have cried more in the past several weeks of quarantine than I did the first four weeks postpartum.

Now that this has settled into a reality, we make sure our work comes to a halt at 5 p.m. each day so we have the next two hours as a family, whether we stroll the neighborhood or lounge on the deck. After our son goes to bed, it’s just us — dinner, wine and a mindless TV show. We’re a naturally on-the-go family, but this experience has helped us settle down and take in the beauty of things closer to home.

Kayla K., 31, from Atlanta, Georgia

I have been entertaining my two daughters during our quarantine time by teaching them “life skills” practically every day. Every weekday morning, my wife and I get the girls up at 7 a.m. and out the house by 7:30 a.m. for a 1 1/2-mile walk to get the blood pumping and get their minds right before online classes so they are not at home just sucking up A/C. When we get back home, it’s school work and then life skills.

Earl Bedford, 59, from Tarpon Springs, Florida

As a school secretary myself and my husband already working from home, we are a pretty normal family with three kids: an 18-year-old high school senior, a 14-year-old freshman and an 11-year-old fifth grader. It started off sad: my senior unsure about her future and my fifth grader missing his last moments of elementary school. I used to wake at 5:30 a.m. Now, we wake at 7 to start distance learning. We are enjoying the time together but definitely miss our lives outside of this house. We walk every night as a family at 7 p.m. — even the dog is set on our new normal. My senior still works at McDonald’s, as she is an essential worker.

Sylatoya Bedward, 39, from Tavares, Florida

Although we have been lucky that our home has been sanctuary in quarantine, March was about 300 days long and April about three years long. My granddaughters swing between precious and not. It’s taken ingenuity to entertain the children while giving parents space to work. To keep our humor, we’ve been texting funniest home photos/videos to each other.

Lorri Allison Craig, 70, from Bend, Oregon

My daughter turned 21 on April 15. At least this year, nobody could say, “Hey, Tax Day hahaha!” She was without her pals, had an online biology lab and surprise pop quiz at 6 p.m. I decided to combine the best of the worst — corona and “Tiger King” — and we all embraced the absurd.

Jennifer Boxrud, 53, from Crystal Lake, Illinois

Over the past month, we have been working full time and our kids (7 and 9 years old) have been staying home alone. We close the curtains so neighbors can’t see in during the day and open them up when I arrive home and have the boys go out for fresh air and sunshine and exercise at that time. They struggle to keep up with homework. I am drained many days after work or don’t have time to help them with homework between work and the demands of running the home. Sometimes, my youngest son skips a meal because he forgets to eat or doesn’t know what to make or how to make it despite my best prepping efforts. My 9-year-old is the only reason we have been able to keep up with all of this. He has really helped his younger brother a lot. It is very hard. I wonder what next school year will look like. Their grades/test scores will surely slide but like everyone else, we are doing the best we can.

A 37-year-old mother who asked to remain anonymous in Kansas City, Missouri

We are a family of four residing in Marion, Indiana. My husband is an officer in the U.S. Army and has been deployed since December. Our daughters are 4 1/2 and 5 (one adopted, one biological) and the youngest has severe medical needs, including spina bifida, congenital scoliosis and stage 1 chronic kidney disease. We are coping day by day. Hour by hour. Sometimes minute by minute. Kiddos are resilient, yes, but are also human. They have bad days, confused days, questions (lots of questions), concerns and frustrations. They miss their teachers, friends and routine.

Because of their young age, I’m thankful we don’t have to worry about their academic performance, although we do *some* schooling at home. Honestly, I’m more focused on their emotional health during this time. We follow a loose schedule that revolves around spending time outside, reading and doing “chores” (laundry, taking out the trash, cooking, etc.). For us, this time isn’t for growth, it’s for refinement. We are refining our mission, our priorities, our goals, to focus on each other and our well-being.

Tori, 31, from Marion, Indiana

I am caring for my sister’s children. She is a nurse in a COVID-19 unit. My nephew is autistic. He misses his mother but can’t express himself. My niece is 8 years old and cries herself to sleep. She does online classes. I try to keep my nephew from regressing. I am running for judge after I and another highly qualified woman were passed over for a man that was previously voted out of office. Having limited funds and limited time is frustrating. I worry about my sister and her children. I don’t want to let them down.

Laura Morton, 54, Westminster, Maryland

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