School is canceled, afternoon activities are canceled — everything’s canceled, plus my husband is working from home. I can’t even vacuum without him saying: “Could you turn that off? I’m on the phone.” It’s times like this I ask myself, “What would June Cleaver from ‘Leave It To Beaver’ do?”
My guess is that June would make a casserole. She’d stock her freezer with meals to have on hand in case her family or neighbors became sick. June would mop the floors, wearing a dress, pearls and high heels, and do the laundry in extra hot water. She’d iron everything — even the sheets — while Ward set up a command center in the den.
Wally and Beaver would be easy to deal with. June would send them outside and tell them: “Don’t play too close to anyone. Remember to stay 6 feet apart.” If they came home before the street lights came on, she’d give them chores to do. Most importantly, June would remain calm. This was a woman who lived through World War II. She was made of sterner stuff.
June Cleaver was a fictional person, but right now, my life feels fictional, too. Unfortunately, it’s veering into dystopian fiction, so I better get a grip on things fast. I want my world to be black and white again, so I know how to deal with it. To do that, I need to take some lessons from June.
Lesson No. 1: Stick to a schedule. Problems on “Leave It To Beaver” were always resolved in one episode. My days will be better, too, if I mind the clock. That means my family needs normal wake-up times, meal times and bed times. The days mustn’t get away from us.
Lesson No. 2: Dress nicely. There’s no need for high heels and pearls, but just because we’re not leaving the house doesn’t mean we can’t be presentable. We’ll feel better if we look better. Plus, my daughter and I should pull back our hair each day so we’re less likely to touch our face, and everyone can trim their fingernails so there are fewer places for germs to hide.
Lesson No. 3: Play outside. Fresh air and exercise are great for mental health. Now is the time to pump up the tires on our bikes and cruise around the neighborhood. We can dribble the basketball across the driveway or play handball against the garage door. Jumping rope is as good as any cardio machine at the gym.
Lesson No. 4: Complete chores. I’m giving my kids daily to-do lists that include inside and outside tasks, as well as academic endeavors. For example, I’ve ordered mulch for us to spread in the back yard. There is weeding in our future.
Lesson No. 5: Clean everything. Tiptoeing through the living room with my dust mitt, trying to avoid accidentally being captured on my husband’s Skype call is annoying, but having a tidy house is worth it, especially since we’re stuck here for the foreseeable future. The best part is that my all-purpose disinfectant is 100% vodka. Cheers to that! (But please don’t tell June).
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.