Hatstacking: A Quarantine Game of Survival

Have you ever read that children’s book Caps for Sale? You know, the guy goes around selling hats, but one day a bunch of monkeys start to take his hats. It is a great book, so check it out if you don’t know it. This quarantine has left me feeling like that guy with the hats. Let me explain.

In the book, the hats are neatly sorted by color and placed upon his head for comfortable, organized travel as well as easy access upon inquiry from a potential customer. Well, this quarantine has been anything but comfortable or organized. Yet, here we are. We’re all being forced to wear so many hats at once. Soooooooo many hats. The odd thing is, I didn’t even realize just how many hats there were until my husband pointed it out during a tearful plea (by me, not him) for some reassurance and comfort in a fit of exhaustion. You see, we weren’t meant to wear all these hats at once. Let’s take them off one at a time, shall we?

I’ll start with some of the most obvious first.

The motherhood hat

Boy, this hat is heavy with guilt and yet, also hope. Nothing I do feels right or like it’s enough, but every day I hope for a better day. Fact is, before this pandemic, I was away from my children roughly 9-10hrs a day. Now, I’m away from them 9-10mins it feels like. I mean, seriously though, there isn’t much time where they aren’t ‘needing’ something. Maybe it’s a snack, a drink, a cuddle, direction on how to complete an activity, full on engagement to do an activity, redirection of behavior, a diaper change, a change of TV show…oy. This list will not end. While this hat is heavily laden with needs and guilt at not being able to fully immerse myself in them and meeting their every need, it is also encompassed in hope. I have hope that this will be a special time of connection. I have hope this will be an opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world. I have hope that the memories we hold on to will be mostly positive ones. Being able to devote my whole being to enjoying them is what I really seek and hope for, but I tell ya, that’s not the norm right now.

The wife hat

This has been a tough time for a lot of marriages, and ours is no exception. There, I said it. Raw truth. Some days have been riddled with guilt of being too tired to put forth any effort to even really talk. There’s no start or end to the day. There’s no missing the other person. There’s resentment at times as I try to work and care for the kids. Every couple’s reality is different, but that’s ours. My husbands job has less flexibility and frankly, being fairly male dominated the realities of childcare aren’t as much on their plates. So, he has to maintain a somewhat quiet space. I get it, respect it, and try to aide the most positive layout, but it is hard. We’re the type of couple, as you know from other posts, that are used to date nights and secret happy hour meet-ups. Not having time alone together makes it feel like we are ships passing. I don’t count vegging in front of Netflix as really connecting, but often, that’s where we find ourselves. After a day of working and caring for the bambinos, I am wiped out. I yearn for time to focus on one another with stars in our eyes and hearts and a little sense of some freedom to kick back without worry.

The employee hat

How do people do this? How do people work a full time job and take care of their children full time at home? I know it is done here and there and I’m in this total awe that my mouth just hangs open in wonder. This is hard. As an educator, I want to be there fully for my students and to be sure I am doing right by them in this difficult time. Many are riddled with anxiety, financial concerns, ill family members, and freaking out about graduating on time. You see, I am a high school counselor. Luckily, we are already a virtual school serving our whole state. Our students already know how to do school online. However, many of our students deal with the above concerns even without this Covid 19 monster lurking around. I desperately hope to be a beacon of hope and light for these students as they navigate this tricky time.

The teacher hat

I have been an educator for over 20yrs and this is not easy for me, so I can’t imagine how some other folks feel. I have a few tricks up my sleeves, but little ones who are your own are hard to inspire daily. While my 5yr old is able to maintain more focus on a task and able to do more in general, balancing that with his 2yr old brother is tough. The younger one needs near constant attention and entertainment. The older ones get jealous of that so he won’t focus on the task at hand. It’s somewhat of a vicious cycle. I’ll be sharing some of the things I’m doing with the kiddos and suggestions I have, so be sure to follow me on Instagram @amberwags and on The Better Than Good Blog Facebook page. It my goal for something to be learned each day, but it may not always be ‘on script.’

The nurse hat

Am I the only one whose kids are getting hurt every 5mins?!? Like, what in the world?!? Thankfully, none of these injuries have been serious (knock on wood). I’m sure every parent out there is crossing their fingers in avoiding emergency room visits. Bike rides, neighborhood walks and runs, climbing trees, playing basketball… all wonderful activites filled with boo boo potential. Thank God we are stocked with bandaids and neosporin. I guess on this one keeping them out of the ER is the essential win.

The sister hat

I am the middle of 5 children with 2 older sisters and 2 younger brothers. Before starting my own family, I was always the glue to the puzzle. That has changed a little bit as my own family takes the front seat and my siblings all have spouses, children, and dogs to care for. Being there for my siblings and keeping in touch as much as we can, is still a priority. Everyone’s availability is different these days and we’re scattered around in location, but we try to be there to support and lift one another up from afar the best we can. We are the perfect example of everyone has their own shit to deal with. Just in this short time, each family unit has had its only worries: health scares, travel woes, job insecurities, etc. I aspire to spend time connecting and supporting them as each day passes by in a way that helps them know they’re never alone.

The daughter hat

My parents are truly amazing people. They do the winter in Florida thing to escape the gray cold of Ohio for about 5 months a year. Typically, they cross through to stay with us a couple days on their way down in mid-November and then again on their return in early April. This epidemic impeded their typical trip home in early April. They waited as long as they saw fit or could handle. While they love their Florida life and stay super busy with projects and hobbies, they felt called home. You see, home is special. Maybe you feel that way about your own childhood home, maybe you don’t. I certainly do, and I believe my siblings all do as well. It is a siren song that calls you to her lush green rolling hills, 40+ acres of woods and wonderment. A slow, laidback space in which to just be. An escape to a life in which you can maybe even read a book more than 1 page at a time. It was so hard to have them pass through and not stay with us. They did swing by and we got to chat with them a little via social distancing style, but how hard it was to not hug their necks and welcome them into our home for a few days of precious time together. I wish for more moments to share my love and appreciation for them more fully.

The friend hat

I try to be the type of friend who checks in with people regularly, quarantine or no quarantine. To me, a simple text of how are you today or how can I pray for you or just thinking of you, lets someone know you’re there. You never know when someone is feeling low or lonely. You can be the change maker with very little effort. Quarantine or no quarantine, it’s difficult to get to spend time with friends. Lining up schedules around other obligations and family schedules is tough. Certainly, traveling to see friends is harder still. Something I’ve learned over the years is, everyone shows their love, appreciation and care differently. Your way of checking in may be tagging someone in a funny post on IG or FB. You may check in by sending cards or small gifts. It’s not the how that matters, it’s the actual action. You see, a lesson I learned in a church sermon long ago is that No relationship will withstand with only one party contributing. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s true. Being a good friend to someone doesn’t mean they’ll be a good one to you, but wouldn’t you rather know you had tried? Each day I try to reach out to someone, in some type of way, to let them know they’re thought of and cared for.

The chef hat

I love to cook and bake! It brings me joy to put something together for my family, friends, and neighbors. This quarantine life has brought out a renewed dedication to trying new things. Usually, I’m pretty focused on the more healthy choices we can make, but during this time I have said, “let there be dozens and dozens of baked goods” and “the more chocolate the better!” Is it just me or does stress bring out your sugar dragon too?

Here we are on week 8 and I can honestly say, the novelty of having a little more time to try things in the kitchen, has worn off. I’m over it. I’m tired of cleaning the kitchen up. I’m tired of putting in a ton of effort to hear from the kids, “that’s gross.” Let’s be clear. They only want to eat hotdogs, corn on the cob, and maybe cheese sticks depending on the day. I know this complacency will pass and we’ll be back to eating more consistently healthy meals, but darn if that kitchen won’t still be a mess to clean-up. After all, if you don’t have a mess to clean-up, then you weren’t really cooking. I hope my love for it returns soon as does the desire to be more consistently healthy while still enjoying treats.

The blogger hat

Well, this is the first you’ve heard from me in ages, so I guess that tells you something. It isn’t that I haven’t had things to say or new learnings to share towards a Better Than Good Life. I honestly have been wiped out. Wiped. Out. The sleep is never enough lately. The days are long, y’all. Looooooong. At the end of the day, give me 30mins to zone out on something and then I’m ready for bed. So, I will be bringing you new ideas, thoughts, and learnings. Stay tuned :). Be sure you follow me on Instagram @amberwags, join the Facebook page Better Than Good Blog and Join the Movement over on BetterThanGoodBlog.com so you can see the updates more readily.

The other hats

There are so many hat wearing possibilities. Runner hat. Artist hat. Gardener hat. There just isn’t enough time or energy. Your hats may not look the same as mine, but I bet you’re hatstacking. I submit to you that’s part of the reason we’re all tired or anxious or just, ARGH. We’re wearing too many hats at once. It’s time to figure out a way to unload a few of those. I’m thinking on it and doing some research, don’t you worry, I’ll be back with suggestions. In the meantime, unload what you can and simply recognize 1. Just how many hats you have on! Whew! 2. We aren’t meant to have to wear and balance them all at once.

So, what are your hats like? Which hat do you have on that I didn’t mention? Is one hat overwhelming you more than another? Do you yourself have tips for slipping out of the hatstack? Please share 🙂

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