Doing a Pandemic with Small Children
If you're reading this, you're likely a parent of small children trying to navigate this bananas time in our lives. It hasn't been an easy one for anyone, but I think it's safe to say it's pretty darn difficult for a working parent at home with small children. I can't believe it's already been a year since most of us completely changed the way we live our everyday lives.
The first week was like, okay, this is not ideal, but it can't last too long. These are MY children for goodness sakes, and I should be able to handle this.
I mean... it's unprofessional to take a call with giggling, half clothed children in a laundry basket? Don't be so 2019!
The second week was like... this is just not cool. These kids eat way too much. They talk way too much. I can't take a phone call. I can't finish an email. I can't even finish a thought. A report? Yeah, right.
Summer vacation was a bit of a break. Nothing is expected of me with these children. I can do this. They can literally run amuck and nobody cares. But then I see all these social media moms being all crafty and creative and I feel like a shmuck of a mother. I realize and appreciate they are trying to HELP busy moms have ideas for entertaining the kids, and they likely didn't create these posts from a place of "I'm a better mom than you, look at all this stuff I do with my kids!", but it sure felt that way on the particularly challenging days. Summer vacation also didn't change the fact that my job(s) didn't have Summer vacation.
Mooooommmm we're booooored!
Here is a pretty accurate timeline of completing a work task:
*Open the office door with small child pummeling towards me (follows my every move and has animalistic level hearing.. why does the door have to be so freaking loud?!)
*Grab computer and drag small child out of the office as he collapses to the floor whining.
*Set up some toys and turn on tv. Older child: "I don't want to watch that!"
*Ignore older child. Open laptop and begin work while standing at the kitchen counter.
*Pause task to remove small child from hopping on top of the coffee table. Definitely don't have time for a trip to the ER.
*Pause task to administer snacks. Older child: "I didn't want that snack!"
*Ignore older child. Open laptop to resume task.
*Pause task to assist older child in the bathroom.
*Pause task to change younger child's diaper.
*Pause task to serve lunch, clean up, and put younger child to nap.
*Pause task to explain in detail why I cannot play Barbies right now. Console crying/whining/bored older child. Explain to her that independent play is important, and mommy can't always play. Right now, we need to pick an activity that you can do that doesn't require my help. I would really prefer to play, but I have to work, so I can buy you things like clothes and candy.
*Stares at computer. Forgets what I was even doing. Cries out of frustration that I'm not able to produce at the level I once could, and that I'm making silly mistakes because I'm distracted - mistakes that used to drive me crazy when other people would make them, like asking a question that had already been answered because I skimmed the email instead of reading it more carefully. Resents significant other who is sitting peacefully alone in the home office. Remembers that at least one of us has to have a productive day because we certainly can't afford to lose both of our jobs. Regains composure. Still doesn't remember what I was even doing.
The moral of the story is, this is HARD. It's a year later and it's still hard. Sure, some aspects of our lives have regained some normalcy. Your kids may be back in school part time or full time, you may have a little extra time to get some things done, Suzy down the street isn't buying out all the toilet paper anymore... but we're still not back to that "everyday grind" we used to complain about, that some of us would gladly resume.
I can't say I would, though. Without this "shakeup", my kids would not have had the quality time they had together. Maybe they wouldn't have the bond they have now, that I would do it all over again to preserve (crazy, I know). Someone else would have been telling me about the milestones they were achieving, instead of my being able to witness them firsthand. I wouldn't have grown as close to my "mom friends" without having so many reasons to lean on each other. One of the moms in our chat is known for pointing out the "silver lining" in every situation, and I think there are so many from this past year. I'm sure you can find some, too.
We send out our deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one to this pandemic, or lost their job, or struggled with their mental well-being. It has taken a toll on so many, and we have not lost sight of just how lucky we are. These kids may drive us crazy, but we couldn't be luckier to have them.
Hang in there, parents!