How have you been feeling since schools have been shut down across our country and more people are working from home? Not enjoying every second of your kids, I’m sure. Not only are we spending our days in the same four walls because we don’t have a choice, we are spending every second with the same people. This is tough stuff, to say the least.
I get that some people are trying to find every positive situation they can during this pandemic — they are much needed. But telling parents they should enjoy this extra time with their kids because it is something they will never have again isn’t doing anyone any favors. We all love our kids very much, but we actually hope we never get this much time with them again because this literally isn’t normal; it’s stressful.
I’m sure there are people out there who homeschool while working from home, but even for those folks, that’s an entirely different experience; usually you can leave the house without worrying about contracting a dangerous virus. But for many of us, every aspect of this is new and fresh, and we aren’t coping well. It isn’t even close to an ideal situation. Trying to soak up family moments in the middle of learning 7th grade math so you can try to teach it to your child, while worrying about how long the food in your fridge and pantry is going to last, isn’t the recipe for enjoying extra family time.
We all need outlets, including our kids. They are used to being around different people, having a change of scenery, and socializing with their friends and other adults. I know my kids are sick of seeing my face. Besides their dad, his girlfriend, and her daughter, they have not interacted with another person in real life in almost four weeks.
Trying to keep our children occupied, work, and keep our mental health intact is stretching parents thin. I’ve talked to so many of my friends who have an unexplainable tired feeling and they are wondering how could they could be so tired if they are doing less than they used to. They can’t run errands, they aren’t attending school activities, they don’t have to worry about commuting to work or carrying their kids around to social events. Shit, they don’t even need to get dressed.
The thing is, the stress and worry from this pandemic makes just doing the bare minimum feel so heavy and exhausting. That tiredness you are feeling is stress-related fatigue and is normal. But it also makes it hard to enjoy any time with kids in this uncertain time, because all you want to do is lie down and stare at the ceiling.
Tempers are flaring, irritability is at an all time high, and our normal means of blowing off steam are gone.
If you are feeling guilty, and like you should be enjoying spending weeks on end cooped up in the house with your kids, just stop it right now. No one wants to be in lockdown with anyone for an extended period of time — especially with the people who know how to push our buttons like no one else — no matter how much you love them.
We are social creatures and are more dependent on things breaking up our day than we realize. We are missing the small talk with the person in front of us at Starbucks. We are craving a little more interaction and miss seeing people in real life. We miss our schedules. We need changes in our days we aren’t getting. And our kids are sick of seeing our faces. They miss their friends and teachers. They miss going to play on the playground, visit the park, or go to the movies.
We can be thankful to have some time with our kids, of course. But there’s no way in hell we are enjoying it for the most part, especially since they’re also feeling cooped up and anxious and may not be that pleasant to deal with. And we can be glad they are healthy and we are able to have some control over what they are exposed to, while recognizing that this is freaking hard.
We’ve always been able to have outlets in the past– taking an exercise class, letting our kids free-range in the back yard with the neighbors so we can catch a breath, going to our favorite restaurant with the good cheese fries, planning a girls’ night out. Something. But that’s all been taken away from us, and the fact we don’t have a choice but to stay the hell home is taking its toll.
So no, we aren’t going to enjoy most of these moments, because we are scared out of our minds — and trying to find a new normal isn’t happening for most.
We all need a break and time away from our families, even when times are good and there isn’t the fear of contracting a deadly virus that spreads like wildfire. So, be gentle with yourself, and don’t think for one second you are supposed to be loving this extra time with your kids.
It doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It just means you love regular life, and you want your family to have back all the opportunities that were stripped away. And that makes you a fantastic parent.