Family Friday: My Secret Pandemic Domesticity

When he retired some years before I did, my husband took on the shopping and cooking responsibilities and after-school supervision of our teenaged daughter, activities that I’d juggled while working full-time (and volunteering) during our daughter’s elementary school years.

About a month into the new arrangement, R asked: “How in the world did you do this?” My honest answer: “Not very well.” When everything is done on the fly, none of it is very satisfying.

I think back to that conversation from within our current pandemic bubble, the previously unimaginable solitude which gives us nothing but time. It is an unexpected luxury.

The Pandemic Schedule Is Flexible

Breakfast sometimes takes three hours. Some days, lunch happens at 2. Entire chunks of time have vanished into Netflix binges — Alexandra Schwartz’ New Yorker review of “warm and witty” Call My Agent captures why it’s felt so good to be in Paris with this crew, and Decider’s Megan O’Keefe explains why I had to watch all 55 episodes of the Spanish telenovela Velvet (set in 1950s Madrid).

Writing Time Expands

But my productivity has also increased. I completed my memoir, THE DICTATOR FLEW OVER OUR HOUSE & OTHER TRUE STORIES: AN AMERICAN EMBASSY FAMILY MEMOIR, which is being considered for publication by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. And I’ve been working on the structure of this blog, most recently organizing my posts by day: Politics Monday; Travel Tuesday; Wellness Wednesday; Family Friday; and Wildcard Weekend.

Domestic Chores Expand


I’ve discovered the simple pleasure of hands-on homemaking. Early on in the pandemic, I pulled my mother’s sewing basket out of my closet and created facemasks out of old pillowcases and pajamas, enjoying the calming effect of sewing by hand. More recently, I’ve taken to patching up our rescue Lab Kumba’s toys, an endless task that he enjoys ripping to shreds.

Shrimp and Veggies

Cooking now takes over more of my day, from planning menus in My Fitness Pal , to soaking potatoes to leach out their potassium as advised by R’s doctor. Potassium-rich bananas, avocados, and beans are off the menu, along with tomatoes and salmon, so I’ve had to get creative in finding other ingredients. Here’s a recipe I created for a quick one-pan shrimp and veggies, and it’s leeks that add the magic creaminess (so worth the hassle of rinsing off the dirt first).

Sauté 2 cloves garlic, one chopped leek,, two chopped celery stalks, and one chopped red pepper until soft. Add 1/2 C frozen peas. Add shrimp (we buy 28 oz. bag of frozen, cleaned, uncooked) and cook until just pink. Salt to taste. Serve over rice or pasta, and leftovers make a great lunchtime salad. Enjoy!

What pleasures have you discovered in pandemic homemaking?

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