Shortly after social distancing and the COVID-19 “quarantine” began, I started getting inundated with ideas. And lists. And lists of ideas for filling each endless day that stretched before me.
There were ideas for activities and crafts to do with my kids, for virtual field trips and safaris, for educational subscriptions and videos and apps. Lists of movies and shows to stream, podcasts to listen to, recipes to make, meditation apps to download. So many ways to be “productive” while stuck at home.
At first, these lists were irresistible to me, a Type A person. I emailed blog posts to myself, took screenshots of Instagram posts, saved Google docs. I even printed some of these lists, hanging them from our whiteboard as if to say, “See how prepared I am? We will never go stir crazy with all these lists on hand during quarantine!”
So far, all these lists have done is make me more anxious; they are clogging up my inbox and constantly reminding me of everything I haven’t done.
I have not watched any of those movies or listened to any new podcasts. I have not attempted any new workouts or learned any new skills or cooked any elaborate meals, unless you count microwaving leftovers from three different takeout meals.
I have not done any of those activities with my 3-year-old. (The 6-month-old is content with peek-a-boo and a spatula to chew on.) I attempted a simple game of “I Spy” and was told, “Mama, enough with the games!” I suggested making mud art and he plopped a pile of it on a piece of paper and called it a day. He mainly wants to roll our trash cans around the front yard and pretend the garbage truck is coming. Sounds fun, right?
These lists gave me grand ideas about how to be more productive with all this “extra time” I now have during quarantine.
But I quickly came back down to earth and realized that I don’t actually have any more time than I did before. I get up, take care of my kids and the house until bedtime, clean up, and then collapse. Just like always.
I actually have less time now to get anything done. The grandparents can’t come over to babysit. Even a babysitter can’t come to babysit. My son can’t go to preschool two mornings a week. We’re missing the village that we have been lucky enough to depend on.
Without the ability to “tap out,” I’m even more tired each night than usual during quarantine.
Many of the things I used to do to energize and regulate myself are gone: no socializing with other moms while our kids played together, no workout classes (except from home), no Free Forest School. So when I do have a little time to myself, it’s hard to muster the energy to be productive.
Thankfully, I’m not trying to juggle homeschooling and a full-time job.
(Those who are, you are heroes.) And thankfully, my husband still has a job. But as he reminds me sometimes, parenting was hard before the pandemic. It was hard even when we did get some breaks, and we weren’t racked with anxiety about the future, the economy, our family’s health, the psychological impact that this may have on our kids. Of course it feels much harder now, and we have to give ourselves some grace.
I may not be learning a new language or becoming a good cook or even making nature art with my son. (Though we did potty train him, which should count for something.) But that’s okay. It’s okay if you’re just trying to survive each day and stay strong for your kids. I’m doing enough. And you are too.
Photo Credit :: Jessica Rockowitz Photography