By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator
How do you continue working from home when your job is creating meaningful visitor experiences at your site? Like all of us staff at the Museum, creating a work-life balances these days has been difficult. Do I work, do I clean and sanitize, do I prep meals, do I practices self-care in these uncertain times? There are so many questions and even more answers. It’s very confusing. Thankfully, in the last few years, I have found writing very cathartic, and our COVID-19 website is giving me the opportunity to write again.
I am very fortunate that my kids’ home daycare has remained open. I am eternally grateful to our daycare provider, who is like a second mom to our kids. They spend their days going on hikes, though all of their favourite spots are now closed. Riding bikes and scooters in the last two weeks has brought newfound confidence to all of the youngest kids – two wheelers for almost everyone! Wouldn’t it be nice if that were all we had to worry about these days?
This past February, I spent the most time ever out of the office, while still working and engaging with the public – inspiring students to visit the Museum with their families. Within the span of two weeks I would literally go from 2000 to zero. I wonder what will happen to all of the amazing programming we currently have lined up for the summer. Will we even be back in the office this summer? Our beautiful Victorian Teas in the garden will look a lot different, as will Grandpa Henry’s Picnic and Sunday FUNdays. In addition, this is the time we would be gearing up to adjudicate the Durham District School Board’s Heritage Fair. It’s always fun to engage with the students and listen to them discuss their projects and why they think they are important. I imagine that in the future we will see a number of projects about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected us, just as we see projects about the 1918 flu epidemic.
Currently, I am spending my days coming up with family oriented content for our online community and continuing with research about the Henry Family Grandchildren. This has been a pet project of mine for the last few years and I am thankful that I have the time to focus on it. I find it wholly satisfying to map the cousins’ locations in California; they lived very close to where my father-in-law spent part of his childhood, and I aspire to visit there myself someday.
I am also thankful to be able to catch up on museum and local history related reading. With day-to-day office work out of the picture, I am finally able to finish reading Life in Canada by Thomas Conant, after which I hope to read Upper Canada Sketches. Although biased for many different reasons, they are still an important part of our local history.