Blog: Five things I’ve learned and five mistakes I’ve made during shelter-in-place

Tabitha Parent, Senior Reporter

WEB EXCLUSIVE Shelter-in-place should have opened up ample time for me to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do, like completing a full online workout calendar or baking the next showstopper of the “Great British Baking Show,” but with four academic days each week and nothing less than a truckload of homework each night, I’ve found it hard to make that time. That hasn’t stopped me from learning new things during this “interesting” time. 

    1. Make your bed every morning: All of the lifestyle blogs that are run by healthy, pretty, active young mothers in their 30s will tell you this, and I, as a Vitamin D deficient, generally angry, and mostly inactive teenager can affirm the benefits of this deed. It makes you look and seem like less of a slob. Making my bed gives me a task to set my mind on first thing in the morning and gets those neurons firing — or something science-y like that. 
    2. Read: I used to be an avid reader, a bibliophile, an absolute Hermione Granger. With the extra time that sheltering in place has afforded me, I’ve decided to stack all of my unread books into a pile next to my bed and become that blissful bookworm once more. I’m currently reading “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan and I’m just getting into it. 
    3. Get some sunshine: I am a San Francisco girl, so fog is like caffeine for me. I like the cold weather because it gives me more of an excuse to hunker down indoors (an excuse I don’t need now). Staying inside as much as I have been would have been much more appealing to pre-shelter-in-place Tabitha, but now even my homebody self is craving a little breeze. It was sunny for a few days in a row over spring break, so I broke the tags off my underutilized bikinis and gave our backyard lounge chairs some use. I may have neglected my SPF a little bit (sorry, Mom) but the tan lines are very prominent now. 
    4. Leave your phone outside of your room when you go to sleep: I have recently been required to leave my phone in the kitchen at night due to a “little” disagreement with my mom. The break up was pretty hard during the first few days, but one of the things I noticed was that my sleep schedule gradually began to even out again. Bedtime started entering the 10 to 45 p.m. range. This has never happened before, even when I had to get to a school that was a tad farther than 5 feet from my bed. The best way to put it is just that I felt better
    5. Change things up a little: Like the majority of the world that have found themselves confined to their homes, I’ve been doing lots of baking. My oven is rarely empty and the fridge is teaming with scores of Tupperware holding various cookie doughs, cobblers and creams. But a lot of those cookies and cakes that are taking up space in my freezer have started to incorporate some pretty unique flavors. 

The ingredients that are available in grocery stores are limited and I can’t leave my house to go get every specific ingredient that my heart desires, so I’ve had to shake it up a little when it comes to what ingredients I can use.

    • In a pinch, maple syrup can substitute for vanilla (but be careful, the extra sugar may burn your cookies); a tablespoon of molasses with a cup of white sugar works like an equal amount of brown sugar; and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a cup of milk acts like a cup of buttermilk for your favorite biscuit recipe. 

You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice that perfect chocolate cake flavor for a little hint of lemon sometimes, because who knows? It might end up being your new favorite flavor.  


Five main mistakes I’ve made: 

    1. Drinking too much coffee: I used to make one coffee in the morning with one Nespresso pod in a medium-sized mug and that would be it. Now, with unlimited access to our coffee machine and the Easter Bunny’s dangerous gift of a VERY large mug, I’ve recently started consuming a cool three cups of coffee in the morning alone. To add insult to injury, each cup that I drink is made using TWO Nespresso pods. This is also almost certainly the reason why my sleep schedule has been so messed up. 
    2. Not stretching before I run: During the first few weeks of shelter in place, I thought I was invincible. I would go out on a run without even a toe touch to preface it. Now I do a full warm up before I leave the house, mainly because my family is done hearing me complain about it but also in part to combat the pain that I have created for myself. 
    3. Not writing down my dreams: Did my crazy neighbor from across the street just try to wander into my house and bite my family with her vampire teeth or was that just another one of my wild shelter in place dreams? This question is debatable but the dreams that I’ve had in the past few weeks alone have rivaled any other dreams that I’ve ever had. I wake up sweating and sometimes even yelling. Oftentimes I can’t go back to sleep for hours. Writing dreams down probably would help me at least get them out of my mind so that I won’t have to barricade my bedroom door at 2 a.m. to feel safe. 
    4. Opting out of family hikes: I don’t normally take hikes with my family because I have just a hint of a lazy streak in me, but the last time I went out with them, I had a pretty pleasant time. Hating on your family from your room gives you the license to imagine an enhanced version of their annoyingness, so making the time to hang out with them will free you from this augmented construction of your family and make you much suddenly much less inclined to despise. 
    5. Not knowing when I’ve had enough: During a recent online Zoom class, my brain felt like it was going to explode and I was seeing spots and tigers and things and I felt that I could no longer physically pay attention to the lesson. I decided to turn down the volume on the lecture and turn up the volume on one of my perfectly curated Spotify playlists. There was definitely some guilt there about whether or not I should have been paying attention to the lesson, but Spotify won out in the end.  School is always going to be important and while listening in class is not only respectful and helpful in the long run, sometimes you need just a little bit of Lana Del Ray and Rex Orange County to bring you back to planet Earth— especially now when it seems like all of us are living in a different universe. 

As I continue to go on runs and putting wildly inventive things in my cookies, I’m reminded that things are not normal despite having settled into a bizarre sort of routine. If I’m being honest, I’m going to have to work on following my own advice. 

I don’t know when all of this is going to end, but I’m keeping my eye on the normalcy that we once knew and how my newfound shelter in place produced activities will fit into my life as we gradually begin to get that normalcy back.