A Triptych of Time: Quarantine Quantum Physics

Science was never my speciality at school. To say that concepts of matter and mass confounded me would be an understatement. I was double-D all the way; GCSE results, not cup size. Yet lockdown has inspired some observations around the principles of time. This is first post of three, sharing with you my musings.

Of late, I think I may have stumbled upon one of the most mysterious and perhaps life-altering theories since… gravity (I’d better make this good now).

It is simple. Toddlers have the power to alter the time-space continuum. A bold statement? Perhaps, but consider the evidence.

Time flies… no literally it does

Have you ever dropped your small person off at child care with the prospect of a day to yourself? I see you: breathing out blissfully, closing your eyes at the sheer joy of the memory.

You get there, bang on opening to maximise the free-time. You wave a cheery goodbye and bolt for the car. And there begins the phenomenon.

From that moment you are alone, time moves in to an alternate dimension. Every half hour passes at the speed of a minute. Those six preschool hours fly past in the blink of an eye… using the maths, you basically get twelve minutes to yourself. No sooner than you’ve made a hot coffee, you’re back for pickup and there endeth your sanity.

Something about the time apart has a frenzied effect on the speed of time. How do they do it? Consider the old adage, ‘time flies when you’re having fun.’ It would be more apt to say “time literally flies when you get a couple of hours to go to the toilet unaccompanied and push a hoover around without a small person hanging off the lead and sprinkling playmobil piece in your wake.” I will coin my discovery “The Preschool Effect.” Be prepared for it to be big news in scientific journals. Double D? Pah – but the discoveries did not end here…

Reversing the continuum

Never was the ‘Preschool Effect’ phenomena more contrasted than when we hit lockdown. It seems the conditions for lowering the transmission of COVID19 are also ripe for setting in motion my second scientific theorem: Quantum Quarantine Time.

Think of an ordinary day (you know, one of those glory days from 2019 before social distancing, lateral flow and covidiot became part of our lexicon). You get up, have breakfast, head out somewhere for the morning – perhaps soft play, or a class of some description. You head home for lunch and enjoy an hour or so chilling. Then the afternoon calls and it’s off for a playdate maybe, or to pick up some shopping for dinner with a mooch around town. Back in time for an hour of TV or maybe some train play. You eat, catch up with the other half and hear about their day or have a chat to your mum on the phone. Then before you know it, bath and bedtime.

Those days! It feels like another lifetime. But one thing you didn’t do, was sit there clock-watching. Watches were for making sure you got to A or B in time to meet C and even perhaps D too (because you could).

But welcome to Quantum Quarantine Time.

Time. Has. Slowed.

Ex. Po. Nen. Tially.

Every minute feels like an hour. Every hour feels like a day.

It seems no matter what I do, whatever activities I set up, they are done within a millisecond.

It’s 9:07am. Little man asks for a train track. I lug the IKEA trofast trays of trains from the playroom in to the lounge. I meticulously piece together a track with bridges, tunnels, cranes and the obligatory station. It’s a mission – you need to ensure the trains will not get stuck on an eternal loop of one corner – unable to swing a left and cross the shaky suspension bridge. I sit back and admire my feat of engineering and then commit the ultimate sin.

I check my watch. It’s 9:18. Eleven minutes! My ‘work’ hours are 7-7. And that took a poxy eleven minutes. He plays with it for four minutes and then asks (sorry, he’s a preschooler – who am I kidding, demands) for the Polar Express track to be set up. That takes us through to 9:31. Not even snack time. Lunch is three months away. Help!

And this is the Quantum Quarantine Effect (QQE) people. With the inclement weather, the orders to stay home and stay safe, normal time has been sucked in to vortex. But there is hope. Hope that with a vaccine, with the promise of Spring and with a steady decrease of ‘covidiots’ once they realise this sh*t is real, that time may, once again, find some kind of equilibrium.

Until then…

Until lockdown relents, we must all do our best to accept my science. Until disproven, my theory stands strong and days will be 8x as long.

The best advice I have been given was to chunk your time (thank you Laura aka @Mumderstanding – once again my muse). Don’t let the QQE beat you. Don’t look ahead to the day that looms. Find a manageable chunk. Be it half an hour. Be it an hour. Be it ten darned minutes. Focus on getting through that chunk. There’s time for the bigger picture later. I got through 9-10 yesterday by making it my breakfast and getting ready chunk. 10-11 was our outside for a walk chunk. I’ve just very much enjoyed a 1-2 banana-bread-licking-the-bowl chunk.

And remember – those toddlers are powerful beings. They can control time. They certainly control me. Who knows what else science will unearth about them? Stay safe, stay well and watch those little ones closely!

“Wait a minute Harry, are you telling me you built a time machine”

How have you coped with the long days of lockdown? Do you have any strategies to share, to help us all get through this period of QQE?

14 Comments

  1. ohhh, yes… it really doesn’t get any better though. My youngest starts full-time school in September, it will be the first time in 16 years that I don’t have a child at home with me…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haa haa, this made me chuckle as I remember those days well. Mine are a bit older now, but now we are stuck with “live lessons”. Each one an hour where you get constant cries of “help” “I don’t know what I am doing” and “I need a drink / wee / sweet / food / ruler / pencil” etc……..their half an hour break whizzes past in a blur before doing it all over again

    Liked by 1 person

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