Don't worry, I'm not going to preach to you about what you "should" be doing as a parent now that the world is... Well, like it is right now. I'm not even sure what phrase I should use to describe it. "On fire" isn't quite accurate, although it certainly feels that way. "A mess" is perhaps a bit closer to the truth. Or we could use big words like "unprecedented" and "unfathomable". How you describe our current state of being is up to you. Personally, I can't find an accurate definition.
Yesterday my husband and kids were playing some made-up game in our driveway that involved chalk and a giant die made from a cardboard box. I'm not sure what the rules of the game were, or what the point of it was. I don't think it even had a name. But they were enjoying themselves, while I watched from the porch and tried to stifle my ever-present anxiety.
My anxiety doesn't have a fixed cause. It's generalised. I'm worried about everything and nothing. I'm worried about things that haven't happened and may never happen. I'm also worried that I'm not worried enough about some things and that I'm worrying too much about other things. I'm doing things like printing out fun activities (while worrying that my printer will run out of ink and I won't be able to get more) and looking forward to the kids video-calling their grandmother so she can read them a storybook (while worrying about my mother's health, in her own bubble).
In short, I'm a bit of a mess, too.
The hardest part of this situation, for me, so far, has been trying to take care of my own mental health. It's all well and good to toss the words "Self-care!" in the direction of frazzled parents, but what does self-care look like when you're stuck at home with three bored kids, trying to work and parent and homeschool and get things done, all without your usual support network -- without any network at all, save a virtual one?
I'm still figuring this out. I'm hoping that by the time our lockdown ends, whenever that may be, I'll have a better understanding of what it takes to get through a crisis like this with all of my faculties intact. Or reasonably so.
For now, like many of you, I'm still in survival mode. I'm trying to parent through the most uncertain time of my life. I'm hoping to learn some lessons from this. I bet some of you have lessons you could share with me, too. Will you? What are you learning about yourself, and your parenting, during this time? Email me at and share. Maybe we can work together to figure this out.
Editor, Tots to Teens