Quarantine life—a time when we're all trapped in our homes, together but separate. For many people, this is a completely new and slightly difficult way of life. For new parents, this "new normal" doesn't stray too far from our regular normal.

All our friends without children seem to have gained heaps of free time at home due to this pandemic. As new parents to an 8-month-old baby, our world of life at home hasn't been changed in quite the same way.

If anything, the desire people have to connect—plus their newfound availability to do so—has taken a hindrance on our free time as parents.


Just last weekend, my husband and I had two birthday party Zoom calls to attend. We only made it to one of those, however, because our little one was struggling to go down for the night due to his ninth tooth coming in. That's right, you heard me—his ninth tooth. (Need I say more?)

After escaping his teething woes and getting him to sleep thanks to an hour of trying, I walked into the dining room only to find my husband on a FaceTime call, catching up with an old friend. Dinner had been sitting out on the stove and I was starving, but I decided to participate in the catching up anyway. What a rarity it is that we get to FaceTime with this other couple! I thought.

Twenty minutes in, there was activity on our baby monitor and before we knew it, the baby's cries came through the floorboards and served as our cue to exit the conversation. Long story short, we didn't eat dinner together that night.

By the time we got to cleaning things up around the house—putting toys away, storing leftovers, starting the dishwasher—it was well past our usual bedtime. We normally would be climbing into bed to decompress given our exhausted states, but instead, we had to take turns getting our showers in for the day.

I guess what I'm saying is, if I'm being totally honest, social distancing has become socially exhausting for me.

My husband and I already work from home. We follow the schedule of our little one and that's what dictates our free time. Basically, if he's asleep, we have "free" time. It is very precious time. It's time to work. Time to clean. Time to cook. Time to bond as a couple. Time to check things off our list. Oh!—and time to rest. (How could I forget that one…)

Now we have regularly scheduled Zoom calls with everyone who is suddenly available. Our extended family has a call on Sundays. My old friends that I haven't seen in at least seven years meet every Wednesday night. My husband's college friends try the impromptu calls every few days that he sadly usually has to decline because they're not scheduled.

My husband and I are west coast natives living on the east coast, raising our first kid away from our closest friends and family. FaceTiming has been such a wonderful tool to have at our fingertips, a regular part of our routine that we use as a way to stay dialed in with our loved ones, the people we desperately want our kiddo to have a connection with, even from a distance.

But now, we have way more options of people to talk to over video chat instead of just our family members, and for this introvert—some days it's just feeling like too much. While I'm excited to hear from so many people who mean so much to us, I'm exhausted from the expectation of others who are new to regular video chatting. We're not always available. We won't always be able to answer. Hopping on a call isn't always easy.

Nothing in our lives right now feels easy.

Because getting out of our pajamas is cause for celebration most days (especially the days when we're operating on three hours of sleep) and I'm glad I have the world on my side in these tiny victories. Like new mothers, the world now finally understands—sometimes just being at home is exhausting.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.


Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

Keep reading Show less