Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb…. These are the words that Phil Connors hears each morning, at 6:00 am, in the famous 1993 film, Groundhog Day.. It’s a favourite in my household, with its humour and downright silliness, and yet lesson about being open to change and being with those you love. Now I’ll state the obvious, what so many of us have been thinking: we are living the movie. It’s Groundhog Day, again.
As I thought about writing this post, and as I started to put the first few words on my screen today, I wanted to state something very important up front: it is not my intention to make fun of or to minimize the impact and power of COIVD-19. This virus is to be taken seriously, and so many people are ill or have died. I am not poking fun at COVID-19.
Our lives changed in an instant on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a “global pandemic.” We were scared, politicians and scientists had more questions than answers, and we all panicked. In Canada, at least, we locked down. Our lives, it seemed, stopped in an instant.
Which is when the real-life version of Groundhog Day began.
Since that fateful day in March, does it ever seem like every day is the same? No matter what your routine is, does it seem repetitive? Here’s my typical weekday. And when I say typical, this is my life, every day:
A Groundhog Day in the Life of Alicia since March 16th
- 6:50: radio turns on, by timer of course, to Newstalk 1010. Yep I love to hear John Moore in the morning. I listen to the daily updates and chatter for a few minutes, in a semi-comatose state, until I have the strength to roll out of bed just after 7:00.
- 7:20: Shower and make myself look decently presentable.
- 7:40: Start the process to wake up 13-year-old son.
- 7:42: Return to bedroom of said son and see if he’s conscious.
- 7:45: Return once again to bedroom of said son with louder voice and make him respond.
- 7:50: Wake up my daughters, who now insist on sharing a bed. Enlist the help of the dog, to climb on them and lick their faces. They get up.
- 7:55: Run downstairs as fast as I can to avoid hearing the fight that the four-year-old needs to pee but her brother is still in the shower.
- 8:00-8:20: prepare breakfast and lunches for the kids, load school bags and get everything ready at the door.
- 8:20: Sit down at my new home-office desk (which used to be my dining room but now is my office/sitting room) and turn on my computer. Have a quick check at morning emails.
- 8:25: turn on the espresso maker, grind my beans and get my morning cappuccino ready.
- 8:30: Raise my voice that it’s time to leave and maybe children should get their shoes and coats on.
- 8:32: Raise my voice further as at least one of them is ignoring me.
- 8:34: Remind them to bring their backpacks as they run out the door to the car with my husband, as he drives them to school.
**Note the “drive to school part” is only as of September 8th. In the spring they learned virtually and most of the morning still looked like this.
- 8:35: the workday formally begins, with meetings on Webex, email, writing, phone calls and a lot of multi-tasking. Jump from one file to the next and back again. Finally take the first sip of my cappuccino. Brain is waking up.
- 8:35-4:00: the heart of the workday, when the house is quiet and the kids are at school. My main distraction is my cute personal assistant, aka my dog, who takes issue with any person who dares walk along the sidewalk in front of my house.
- 11:00: I suddenly realize that once again I’ve eaten nothing and make myself a light breakfast. Same thing a few hours later when I realize maybe lunch is a good idea as all I’ve consumed is coffee and yoghurt.
- 4:00: My girls arrive home from school, bursting through the front door like a tornado. Note that sometimes I pick them up and sometimes my husband does. So I guess there’s some variety in the day. Dog goes wild. Children scream. Everyone who I work with knows my children are home.
- 4:20: My son arrives home. He adds to the pile of school junk at the front door and disappears to some corner of the house to check all the sports news he’s missed in the past 8 hours.
- 5:30: I start to try to wind down my workday, though this will often stretch to 6:00, 6:30 or beyond.
- 6:00: Enter the kitchen, to discover a hurricane has yet again come through, with a sink full of dishes, empty food containers on the counter and a dishwasher that needs to be emptied.
- 6:01: Get over the daily shock, turn on the TV and watch CTV News at 6 for the day’s daily depressing update.
- 6:30: Once my kitchen is sparkling clean, start cooking dinner. Yes, I cook dinner every night, and not simple basic food. This part of the day is cathartic for me, though I do scream at my kids every few minutes to leave me alone while I cook. How do they constantly want a snack?
- 7:30: Dinner is finally ready and everyone attacks. I will admit it here: we gave up on sitting together at the table for a family dinner months ago. The five of us spend so much time together that the kids dumped us when it came to mealtime. So everyone does their own thing.
- 8:30: I realize that the evening has flown by and maybe I should start putting the four-year-old to bed. Sometimes she’s jumped in the bath already and other times I look at my messy, yet only lightly dirty child, and decide a bath isn’t worth it. Meanwhile I holler to the 10-year-old that screen time is over for the night. She has just spent the past 4 hours on her phone and laptop, socializing with her friends and it’s time to say good night.
- 9:00: If I have my act together, I have the girls in bed, ready to read with me. First it’s a preschool book for the younger one. Then I switch to the good book: Harry Potter, which I’m reading aloud with my 10-year-old. We’re on book 6 now, and we enjoy every minute. And yes, I do all the voices and even some accents!
- 9:45: I fall asleep reading to my daughter, which displeases her every night. Her sister (and the dog) have finally fallen asleep, and I slowly get up and move on with my evening.
- 10:00: I consider doing something around the house, like a load of laundry or cleaning my office but instead fall over on my bed. Luckily my husband has cleaned the kitchen. At this point my son is ensconced on the couch, and depending on the night, either watching football, playing XBOX or reading up on yet more sports news.
- 10:50: After lying on my bed for the past 50 minutes, either chatting on WhatsApp with friends or playing Scrabble against the computer, I get up and get ready for bed.
- 11:00: I’m in bed, watching the news and seeing that it too, hasn’t changed.
I’ve missed a few details, and sometimes a few things change, but the beginning, middle and end are basically the same each day. And so it is, I believe, for many other people. My long, often monotonous day, is repetitive and really, not exciting at all. I watch and read too much news. I participate in some of the most inane conversations with friends and family on my mobile device. I’m constantly paranoid that I forgot to add certain items to my online grocery order. I regularly check my storage room to see if I have enough toilet paper, power towel and flour. Then I head to my computer and buy more.
As those of us living in Toronto head into a new stretch with increased restrictions, I guess I’ll just keep singing the song, I Got You, Babe, every morning. As long as COVID-19 rages across the world it’s going to be Groundhog day, today, tomorrow and for many days to come.