Henry Smith, 7, and Julia Smith, 4, both of Jay sort coins during an at-home learning activity.

JAY — “It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. It certainly will be remembered forever,” Liz Smith of Jay said on Wednesday, March 25.

Her husband Josh was still working as a car hauler. With school and play dates canceled, their children, Henry, 7, and Julia, 4, were just settling into a new at-home routine.

The first Maine coronavirus cases were announced in March. As schools closed to students, we reached out to readers to see how they are handling new routines and new concerns in these uncertain times. 

“We are just trying not to make it a big deal on behalf of the kids. We are waiting on whatever is next. The kids were just as worried when play dates and school stopped but are becoming comfortable after teachers and family have reached out and reassured them this is all for safety,” Liz said at the time.

Then the stress of Josh’s job started settling in.

“Most of his cars are delivered to Massachusetts and Connecticut,” Liz said on March 24. “They have strict limits on businesses right now.”

Henry Smith, 7, of Jay holds a Lego structure he constructed during an at-home learning activity.

To keep himself and others healthy, Josh would wash his hands frequently and use Lysol and Clorox wipes to wipe down surfaces he regularly touched. He stopped allowing clients to sign his electronic tablet.

“He is traveling through states with restrictions and his company is trying to do work in states that don’t have restrictions. It may mean he will be traveling a little farther but because there is work there is no option for unemployment,” Liz said a few days later.

A lot has changed in just a few weeks.

On Friday, March 31, Governor Janet Mills issued a Stay Healthy at Home mandate which restricts non-essential activities until at least April 30. According to the order, in-classroom teaching will not take place until at least May 1.

On Thursday, April 2, Josh was granted a leave of absence from his job.

“This is going to be a struggle on our bills. I am keeping cool knowing there is a lot of forgiveness right now. He is worried but trying to make the best of this,” she said.

Liz has learned shopping for groceries is a complicated chore of reserving a pick-up time slot, which can be nearly impossible.

“We did have a day where we did take-out because I was getting sick of cooking,” she said.

To maintain normalcy, Liz makes sure the kids keep to their usual bedtime.

“That is so I can have an hour to process and keep up on the media and safety messages,” she said. “I do not watch the news around them because they do not need to hear the scary details.”

While bedtime is part of the daily routine, the details of how the day is spent are fluid and never set in stone.

“We had such good weather we have been playing in the woods in our backyard and rode bikes and scooters,” Liz said after a particularly nice stretch of warm spring weather.

Homeschooling is well underway but “common core math is out the window,” Liz said with a laugh.

“We have been doing a 30-day Lego challenge and started watching the show Lego Masters,” she said.

She finds fun activities for the kids to do which often leads to new learning activities.

Last week, Henry and Julia were sorting coins. “Henry found a Canadian penny and was really interested in it,” she said. “I think later we will look at different currency from around the world.”

Liz said the family is coping well but there have been a few concerns.

Henry Smith, 7, and Julia Smith, 4, both of Jay enjoy sunshine and ice cream sandwiches.

“My 4-year old had a few rough nights waking up in tears and was inconsolable but it hasn’t happened in the past week or two,” Liz said. “I think it was because of all the changes.

Henry, who will turn 8 in May, is worried his birthday will be affected.

“Overall though we continue to find positivity,” she said. “We always announce something we did each day that we are grateful for and we always announce we are grateful we are healthy.”


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