“Nothing is normal” and every day brings more meaning to this statement.

My family’s journey in navigating Governor Bullock’s stay-at-home directive started early, welcoming two of our children’s unexpected return from college. This surprise event synced up with an early layoff from work for both myself and my husband, resulting in a quarantine for a household of four.

Every day has brought more guidance for how to proceed with the stay-at-home model. It has slowly morphed our routines as we continue to search for unforeseen opportunities to preserve our sanity and help us find a new sense of purpose.

For us, the first order of business was setting up the house to allow each person both workspace and private territory. This involved turning extra bedrooms into office space and designating house rules that fit a multigenerational family. It’s a different environment than coming home for Christmas or spring break. With uncertain answers as to timelines, financials, and the impact of this virus on our family and friend’s health, there is an ongoing mood of stress and edginess that we are constantly wading through. Still, at the same time, there remains an urgent need to get on with business at large.

As a family, we are taking social distancing seriously and in light of Governor Bullock’s directives, we are again reviewing how this impacts our daily routines. Handling “essential” activities has been a changing landscape, with a few house rules in place that seem to be working at the moment. We’ve designated my husband as our agent of travel since he is by far the best at following the guidelines to the “T.” We’re trying to limit his ventures out to as few times as possible, keeping a running list of minimal essential needs.

The CDC recently offered these following recommendations for shopping safely:

  • Minimize your trips to the store or pharmacy
  • Wash your hands before and after going out in public
  • Don’t touch your face
  • The CDC now recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as the grocery stores and pharmacies.

In fighting the slippery slope of stress and mental health, we are being vigilant in our daily efforts to make sure that everyone is getting adequate exercise, healthy meals, and sleep. Like many Bozeman outdoor enthusiasts, our lifeline to sanity relies on our daily outings and we are thankful for nature’s amenities that Bozeman provides. In an effort to be extra observant in following the six-foot social distancing rule, we are rotating the family outdoor ventures limiting to two exercisers so as not to be confused as a group as well as trying to push out to less utilized trails. Fingers crossed that others will continue to observe these rules and we can look forward to filling our souls and lungs with fresh mountain air.

With social distancing inducing a crisis of loneliness, we are turning to online platforms not only for work, but also to engage socially with each other. Setting up daily communication and check-ins with family members has helped us feel connected. As our college student “roommates” are streaming movies online with their friends, video conferencing parties have helped me stay in the loop with my friends and co-workers.

We are beyond grateful that we are safe at home and waiting this out. With great concern for our friends in healthcare, law enforcement, and other fields on the frontline of this crisis, let’s resist the urge of frustration in our powerlessness to help, because we are helping. The most important thing that any of us can and should do right now is stay home and stay well, even if it seems a bit pale in comparison. It’s time to choose what is right over what is easy, what is uncomfortable over satisfying, and embrace our new normal with integrity and courage.

Maury Wiegand has been a personal trainer and wellness educator in Bozeman for the past 25 years.