"It takes a village to raise a child".
Chances are that you have probably heard this saying. I will admit that I didn't completely understand its meaning until I had children of my own. It's super friggen hard to raise kids without the help of family or friends. I admire single moms because they are doing the hardest job on the planet, and they are doing it by themselves; amen to you. You're truly inspirational.
So, if it takes a village to raise a child, what happens when your village gets ripped away from you due to a global pandemic?
You go crazy.
Well, maybe you don't go crazy, but if you're like me, you start saying things like "I'm done" and "I can't do this anymore" significantly more than usual. It's hard to get through the day when there is no end in sight to being isolated, and every day feels like the same day over and over again.
It's all hard. It's hard to wake up knowing that your options for keeping a child occupied are limited. I can imagine how difficult it is to watch your child not be able to properly graduate following 12 years of hard work. It's hard knowing that you can't comfortably go anywhere. It's hard to always have this lingering anxiety that you might catch the virus (I'm not even naming it anymore because it doesn't deserve a name).
On a side note, it's also really hard to open the plastic produce bags at the grocery store, without being able to lick your fingers. I have definitely left the store without my oranges.
In all seriousness, if you are caring for a child throughout this mess of a year, I am listening to you and hearing you with every ounce of my being. There are days when I wake up and I just don't feel like doing it anymore. I lay in bed and imagine that I am about to go down to the breezy kitchen of my beach villa, pour myself a hot chocolate macadamia nut coffee, and prepare for a full day of sitting on the beach, watching the waves roll in, as the sun beats down on me, and a giant sea turtle makes his way up to the sand to lounge. Then I hear, "Mommy, I pooped", and I'm instantly snapped back to reality.
I think I need to be clear though. . .
When I say that "I just don't feel like doing it anymore", I am being dramatic. I simply mean that I need a break. I would NEVER in a million years want to be without my babies, not ever. Being a mother has been the most incredible experience of my life, and I know that nothing can top it (except maybe being a grandparent but I refuse to think about that now).
The difference right now, and for the past almost 5 months is that I have never done it alone. Sure, I have my husband but he is working hard to make sure we can keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. I'm not discounting his struggles, but I can't speak for him, I can only speak of my own experience. My full-time job at the moment is making sure our kids are taken care of, the house is cleaned, the fridge is stocked, meals are prepared, laundry is done, and the list goes on. It is no wonder that us full-time parents are burnt out. We can't go to any play places, we are deterred from play dates with other children and doing anything away from home, in general, is downright scary. We just don't know if we are going to come home carrying the virus.
So, our village has been temporarily taken away, and we are certainly not on a beach. We are feeling a little cooped up and frustrated. What should we do?
Plan. By this, I mean plan out your day as you would any other day. Having set details will help you move from task to task, and will make you feel "normal-ish".
Prioritize. Don't feel like you have to do everything all at once. The Earth will continue to spin even if your floor is not washed. The laundry will get folded even if it's on the next laundry day. It's. All. Good. Just take care of those little ones. Half the reason we end up frustrated and yelling (I know I'm not the only one) is because we are taking on too much at once. We get frustrated at our young children because they don't understand the importance of washing the countertops and dusting, and they interrupt us. Well, guess what? The joke is on us. They know what's truly important and that is togetherness and playtime, not cleaning incessantly.
Prepare. If you have the willpower, wake up well before the kids, so that you can take care of you. Set your alarm and wake up while the world is quiet. Go for a walk, do a basement workout, journal, set your intentions for the day, or even just have a cup of coffee in peace. By waking up before your kids to prepare for the day, you are already way ahead. I follow this about 50% of the time but I think I need to up that a bit.
Pray. You might not be religious, or you might not even be spiritual. regardless of your beliefs, say a quick prayer that you can remain strong throughout the day. It might not seem like much but outwardly asking for assistance is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
Not included on this list is breathe, and only because it didn't go with my 'P' theme. When you are feeling like the weight of the world is on you, breathe. When you are feeling anxious, breathe. When you feel like you are about to snap, breathe. Remember that you are unequivocally not alone. I'm sitting here raising my hands in the air to tell you that we have each other at the very least. I am right there with you from a safe physical distance. Bodies might be distanced, but souls are not.
Lastly, please be kind to everyone. You have no idea what another person has gone through. This is a tough time for all of us and your life is not more important than anyone else's. This is not the time to judge others' choices. We all have to stick together while apart. Send well wishes and good vibes. Do not let this pandemic turn you into a nasty person.
Be well. We've got this. <3