Pandemic Pod Panic: Is Your Social Life Causing Angst?

Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.

First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..

Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.

Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.

I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?

COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…

Um, that’s a little drastic.

Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)

I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.

Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.

Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.



A Brand New Day #quarantined

It’s only 10:00 a.m. and I’ve gotten, “I’m bored” already. I also said something I never thought I’d say, including, “Want to do something fun? Here, take the vacuum, and suck up all the crumbs that are under the couch cushions!” I mean, I think it’s fun? And, honestly, I had a decent time doing it, but she didn’t think it was amusing. My house is actually getting very clean and organized. Oh, except for when I spilled the entire pot of coffee on the floor because I was busy reading a text message.

The two worst parts about the spill: wasting coffee that is in limited supply in my house (only bought three bags while hoarding groceries in the market), and using up some paper towels. I do have to say, Bounty got it right–it does really absorb. Props to them! I mean, I’m being conservative in my usage of these paper products (fold the toilet paper, guys, and only one square at a time), because just one paper towel was able to soak up the entire pot.

I’m creating an agenda for the day, and it looks something like this:

  1. Go outside in the yard.

That’s where I stopped. I can’t really think of anything else to do.

I’ve become somewhat of a Forest Ranger, as one of our activities is taking the wagon around the neighborhood and collecting sticks and dry wood for a fire in the fire pit. It’s sort of like a low-budget lawn clean-up for my neighbors. I mean, honestly? I might have to start leaving invoices surreptitiously in their mailboxes, ‘ya know, just to get some extra coin when times are tight. That will go over well at the block party this summer. If there is one.

“Hey, guys, need a lawn clean-up?”

Here are a couple more highlights from today (oh, and remember, it’s only 10, so today has barely started):

  1. I got yelled at by my son for stockpiling the freezer, because it flattened out the ice cream sandwiches (i.e. breakfast)
  2. Our dwarf frog, Gill, has gone missing. I am not sure if Pearl, the goldfish, ate him because she too is hoarding food, or if he jumped out. It’s kinda grim looking for a frog skeleton
  3. I am wearing another smoke-show of an outfit: pink fuzzy Job Lot pants (who knew JL had such great fashion choices?), Ugg boots (for going back and forth between inside and outside regularly), a scrunchie (guys, they are back in style. No, they are), and eye concealer. I might do a videocast, but I’m worried too many men will start stalking me. I mean, could happen in this gear.

Speaking of men, it’s hard to be a single mom during the quarantine, because there is one of me and two of them, and I don’t have another adult around to talk to. Please comment though and tell me if I’m wrong. Like, are you all going nuts with your partners? Wait, I’m having a pity party right now. Hold, please.

The kids have FaceTimed their friends, and speaking of parties, I do have a #Zoom party later with some friends, so that should be fun! Right around pour time…Another good idea for everyone to connect.

Well, enjoy your day. I know I’ll continue to enjoy mine! #stayhome





Al’s Camp: How to Thrive at Home in Uncertain Times


imgres-1It’s funny. I was going to start this blog about three weeks ago, before all this COVID-19, and when I didn’t have as much childcare fodder to share. And, now, due to school being cancelled, and it being basically, shall we say, summer, I have much more to talk about! It’s summer vacation in my house! Whee! So we started camp: Al’s Camp. That’s right. You may not have heard of Al’s camp (?), but it’s pretty darn fun, and I could use a little coin right about now, so if you want to sign up in advance, I can give you my address and just go on and send a check.  And, fun fact: Al’s Camp is not just for kids; it’s also for adults. It’s kinda like those yoga retreats…Kripalu? I mean, sorta, minus all the B.S. Here is how Al’s Camp goes:

  1. Just wake up when you want and, really, it’s totes okay if you stay in your pajamas all day. Know why? Because mommy is in fuzzy blue penguin pants that she got for Christmas at Job Lot and a one dollar clearance sweater, size XL, from Walmart.  And, also? We/I don’t have to keep doing laundry that way. Right? Yes, let’s be sustainable and not waste water, and we will just turn those suckers inside out and wear lobster bibs while eating so as not to stain. Shut ya’ dresser drawers. PJ’s only.
  2. Devices are allowed while mommy is working–or just until the retinas are a solid red. We  have testing in the first floor bathroom to see if eyes are bloodshot. If so, we will all take a break in the backyard and play Rover-Rover, I Hope Your Eyesight Isn’t Over. With parental permission, we can apply Visene, but we need those permission slips in STAT.
  3. The special meal we cook is something called “Hodge Podge.” What’s that you say? Yes, you may have missed that page in Gwyneth Paltrow’s #Goop cookbook, but believe-you-me, it’s solid. It really is a composition of: whatever’s in the fridge that the kids want to eat, coupled with some sliced apples, carrots and peppers. Totes healthy! So we got them veggies in there (and I don’t mean just veggie chips (’cause those are a staple around here), and we have child satisfaction at a 10 with like a Dannon Cotton Candy Smoothie (guys, no, it’s a smoothie, so it has to be healthy even if it’s cotton candy flavored. Um, can we say natural flavors??)
  4. Happy Hour starts right at five (for those of us who are 21+ of course). That’s correct. As soon as I hit shut down and log off from working remotely on the computer, I head straight for the fridge and get it going. Oh, and there’s so much to choose from, because mommy had to stock up. And not only that, she had to take off her sommelier beret and lower her wine standards, and sophisticated palette (hah), in the quest for quantity over quality. I have embraced the magnum of vino, which I heretofore had no interest in, lowered the bar, and accepted my lot. I now am fine with it. I taste fruit forward, cement, cherry balls, you name it. All in that magnum. Lower the bar, people. It’s not that bad.
  5. We have a moment of mindfulness at dinner when I lead grace. I encourage all chewing to stop immediately but am okay with like a piece of chicken or a macaroni being hidden under the tongue while we give a quick shout out to the higher-ups.

So that’s just a quick snapshot of what it’s like these days around here at camp. As we share in our social distance, it’s helpful to see how others are carrying out their lives and offering suggestions. Please feel free to print these out and share them with others! And defs call get on the wait list for the second session of Al’s Camp. It’s legit filling up fast. Not even joking. Serious.

‘Til later, stay safe.