Quarantine Routine: Jessi Cruickshank is throwing screen time rules out the window
“We’re having full-on movie parties with popcorn”
Who: Jessi Cruickshank, former MTV star and current host of the Facebook Live series New Mom, Who Dis?
Days in isolation: 16
Quarantine crew: Her husband, Evan Gatica, and their two-year-old twins, Diego and Rio
Location: Los Angeles, California
People think self-isolation means that parents get to sleep in. My friends say things like, “Well, at least you can get an extra hour of sleep because you don’t have to commute or shower.” But being in quarantine hasn’t stopped my two-year-old twins from belting out “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” at 6 a.m. We’re definitely in less of a rush, though. Our mornings used to be based around getting everyone out the door. If one of the twins wasn’t eating his eggs, I’d make him peanut butter on toast just so we could get moving. Now, it’s more like, “You’re eating those eggs. I’ve got all day.”
In Los Angeles, people are being asked to self-isolate. We only recently moved into our house, so we don’t have a lot of furniture. We’ve literally turned the entire living room into a play space. At first, I was in full supermom mode. I thought, Let’s roll up our sleeves and make the best of this. We made spaceships and aliens with Play-Doh, we built Lego, we peed on the floor (well, some of us did), there were fights, we played with more Lego. And then I looked at the clock and it was 9:00 a.m. I thought, Well, this isn’t going to last. Since then, I’ve stopped trying to be the perfect Pinterest mom, curating the entire day. Normally, there’s so much pressure to always be doing something with your kids: playdates, birthday parties, trips to the park or zoo. Self-isolation has given us a chance to enjoy some of the simple pleasures in life. The other day, we did a puzzle for 45 minutes. That was a first.
My husband works in TV production, and his show was shut down indefinitely because of the virus. So he’s been the one making the meals and doing most of the cleaning. When we get through this pandemic, I’ll never forget that I’m married to a domestic god. For the most part, we want the boys to eat fresh, healthy food, so while my husband and I are eating mac and cheese, the kids munch on crudités.
I’m doing my best to work. Last week, I taped some footage for an upcoming episode of my show, New Mom Who Dis? We normally shoot in a studio with a camera crew, but this was a bare-bones production: just me and a camera guy who arrived at our house dressed in a full-on hazmat suit. The twins were pretty freaked out. It’s been difficult trying to explain to them that even though I’m at home wearing sweatpants, I’m still working. I’ve turned a bedroom into a makeshift office and the kids scratch at the door like tiny animals. It’s the worst mom guilt I’ve ever experienced—only slightly worse than when the kids start to cry as I’m leaving the house.
I usually have a no-screen time rule. That’s gone out the window. We’re having full-on movie parties with popcorn. The boys had never watched anything longer than a YouTube clip and now they’re watching full Disney movies. They’re loving Toy Story. We’ve seen all four of them now. Anything to keep them occupied. The other night, they played in empty wine boxes. We’re well stocked when it comes to wine. A while back, when I sent my husband out to pick up beans and rice, he came back with a box of wine and beer. But it’s not like we’re sitting on the couch, sipping wine and having stimulating conversation after the kids are in bed. More like sipping our way through bath time.
My best tip for people dealing with cabin fever? Being in isolation with twin toddlers will keep you busy. People often talk about how they’re using this time to learn a new skill or read the books that are collecting dust on their shelves. But by the time we have the boys in bed, we’re totally exhausted. Like, putting on an episode of Love Is Blind at 7:30 p.m. and falling asleep halfway through.
Being away from home has been tough. Most of my friends in L.A. are Canadians who work in the entertainment business. A lot of them have returned home or are trying to get back. For us, that isn’t really an option. The only place we could go is to my parents’ house in Toronto, but then we risk exposing them to the virus. I think Canada is the safer place to be right now. What if things go back to normal there and we’re still stuck here in quarantine?
–As told to Courtney Shea