It's Impossible To Keep Things ‘Normal’ For Our Kids Right Now

I Gave Up Trying To Keep Things ‘Normal’ For My Kids Right Now

March 6, 2021 Updated March 5, 2021

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My teenage daughter stayed up until after midnight watching “Ginny and Georgia” last night and she’s still asleep even though it’s going on 11 a.m. She doesn’t have a Zoom call for another half hour so I’ll let her sleep.

My kids’ rooms look like  a cyclone made its way through each one of them, and my son is going on day three wearing the same thing. I’m pretty sure they are still brushing their teeth at least once a day, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

A year ago when we first got slammed into this pandemic I thought it would blow over in a few weeks, just like so many other folks.

Then when I got my head out of the sand and they started virtual learning, I tried to keep things as normal as I could for my kids. I did it for them and also did it for me.

I needed to stay on schedule, to stay on task. I wanted to be focused and not lose ground in my parenting, or my life. I kept the bedtimes the same. I wanted them to get up a reasonable hour and eat. I kept making family dinners and tried to walk around as if everything was normal when in reality I was scared shitless inside.

I didn’t want to let things go. Not the laundry, not the meal prep, not my kids’ hygiene or screen time.

I fizzled fast. Then, I had no choice but to not only let things go — things slid out of control and I let them fall where they may. 

The household chores didn’t get done. I got lax about bedtimes and let my kids have their phones and laptops in their rooms until the wee hours of the night.

I think that’s what happens when you try to paint a pretty picture by keeping things buttoned up and forcing normal when nothing is normal — everything comes undone. And it usually doesn’t come with slight changes here and there. It’s a big boom. I have no problem saying my big boom felt damn good.

As parents, trying to keep things status quo for our kids right now is an impossible feat. They aren’t in school full time — or at all, for Christ’s sake. They are isolated and not able to partake in so many of the activities they used to. And parents are expected to pick up the slack, carry it around, and make sure everyone stays on target with it all.

How?

That’s a huge ask to do for yourself, much less trying to do it for your kid’s too.

The New York Times article about how our kids are watching a lot more television since the pandemic and it’s causing concern among addiction specialists and pediatricians is something we didn’t ask for. 

It wasn’t taken well by parents (fucking surprise!) who are doing everything they can to keep their chins above water for their children.

I’m a parent to three teenagers and if anyone tries to shame me for anything right now, you’ll get the middle finger.

USA Today spoke with some experts who gave parents some good advice about dealing with this pandemic: Be there for your kids and support them. Period.

Mary Dozier is a psychology professor at the University of Delaware who studies children who have gone through tough times and tells USA Today, “Children can go through divorce, they can go through death, they can go through just an amazing array of things and come out looking pretty good, if they’ve got somebody who can support them.”

I can do this — I can. I can support my kids. But I absolutely cannot hold myself to the unattainable standard that it’s my job to keep things normal for my kids and I need to make sure they are eating all the right things and not on their devices too much.

They need some comfort too. Their phones are their only source to reaching out to other people besides their family members. Food is comforting right now and if my son wants to eat three bowls of Cocoa Puffs and nothing else and never wear shoes (even outside in the snow), I am going to let him do it.

We all need support and comfort. What we don’t need is to be criticized because we aren’t able to keep things normal for our family during a very abnormal time.

If that means I don’t make dinner and I let my kids play video games for hours after their school work is done, so be it.