5 Rules For My Teens During Quarantine

Siblings using wireless technologies while lying on bed by wall at home

This whole thing sucks more than anything has ever sucked. My moods are swinging so high and low, and all I want to do is jump off this corona-coaster. I’m not special for having these feelings; I know everyone else is feeling this way.

This is hard on our kids too. And while I’ve been pretty relaxed during this whole time since we have to live with each other with no escape except for our rooms, I do have some rules for my teens during this pandemic.

After all, they are young adults and can be held accountable for certain behaviors and still pull their weight around the house. I’m all for going rogue during this time, but we don’t need to completely let things go to shit. So, I’ve got some rules for the three teens living under my roof:

1. You will do school work without being told.

You are all at an age where you don’t need to be reminded to log into Google classroom. You are also aware if you don’t turn in an assignment on time, so you can drop the I-Didn’t-Know-It-Was-Late act. Also, if your teacher has to email me to tell me you aren’t completing your work because you are mistaking online learning for some kind of luxurious vacay, you know the drill: I’ll forward you the message and give you until the end of the day to take care of it, or your only gateway to fun (the television and your phone) will show up late, too. As in, not until you hand in your schoolwork.

You have the time, and I’m not buying any excuses.

2. You will stay the fuck home.

I don’t care if Damien, Chloe, and Haley are all meeting at the local Target to get a slushie. I don’t want to hear about how all your other friends are going for joyrides, hanging out at each other’s homes, and going skateboarding. You will not be joining them.

I’m not doing it to be an asshole. I’m doing it because it saves lives and I will not have anyone in my family be responsible for the spreading of this virus if I can help it. You can choose to hate me and not understand my point, or realize this is temporary, and there will come a day when you can hang with your squad again.

Journal about what a twat waffle I am. Punch your pillow. Tell your friends about your “overprotective” mother. Just know I’m not changing my mind and letting my babies “hang” until all is clear. So, get comfy. It might be a while longer. Also, please remember these rules were born out of love and compassion for the overall health of the world, not to ruin your life.

3. You will control yourself when it comes to snacking.

I get it, being home all the time pulls you to the pantry and fridge. I’m guilty myself. But please be aware if you are eating your face off out of boredom, or choose to eat all the Pop-Tarts in one day, I cannot run to the grocery store to restock.

We are not always going to have everything on hand that you want. I will go to the grocery store once a week: that is it. There are people who don’t have that privilege, so consider yourself lucky even when we run out of the “good stuff.”

Last week I waited in line for forty-five minutes in the rain just to get into the store. Think about that the next time you decide to eat an entire box of Cheez-Its in one sitting simply because they’re there.

4. You will keep your room under control.

I don’t expect your only retreat to be able to gloss the pages of HGTV mag, nor do I care if you eat in there. Knock yourself out. You don’t want clean sheets? Then don’t wash them, fine by me. And if you want to store your clothes on the floor and decide what you are going to wear by rummaging through a questionably-clean pile, more power to ya.

But I have limits. There’s no excuse for half-glasses of milk blossoming into cheese. Please don’t wake up in the night and pee in the soda bottle you left on your floor. Bring your dirty-ass dishes out of there and put them in the dishwasher. And for the love of all things holy, your floor isn’t a trash can. We have exactly four of those in the house and you aren’t an animal. Use them.

5. You will have compassion.

You will be gentle with your siblings. You will be gentle with me. If you are getting sick of me and don’t want to see my face, excuse yourself to your room. I love you, but chances are I feel the same and could use a break too.

The economy is shaky. Many people have lost their income or it has been cut — this isn’t a great time to talk about any material things you want right now. I don’t need to hear there isn’t any food in the house.

I realize this is a hard time for you — and just because someone else has it worse, that doesn’t lighten your load. But please remember: people are dying, the world is very uncertain right now, your friends may be feeling really down and you may not be hearing from them.

Have compassion. Have it for others, and have it for yourself. This time isn’t normal and you are going to have lots of moments when you don’t feel normal. Instead of lashing out (which I realize might happen), ask for help. We’ll figure this out together.

I literally don’t care if you only change your clothes once a week, or want to sit outside on the steps and do nothing for an entire day. As long as you are here, healthy, and being respectful, we are going to make it through this.

All my love,

Your mother who is trying her best to survive this quarantine with you.