“I was in the kitchen yelling at my daughter to get breakfast; she had been running away from me for the last 15 minutes. My son was screaming to get my attention while I cooked breakfast for my husband. Somebody rang the doorbell, likely a courier. My work call was about to start in 10 minutes and my husband was already on a work call. It has been some version of this every day for the past few weeks.
It is overwhelming. I started to blame my husband in my head for all things wrong in my life. A few minutes later, I went to his study where he had just finished a call (before mine started), yelled at him, and then started crying. I was having a breakdown. It was too much. My husband held for a while and let me cry. I needed it. To let it all out. Sound familiar? My guess is that you are facing your own version of this scenario every day too.
It has no doubt been hard as hell, and if you have young kids at home like me, it seems never-ending. Add to that, work calls, food prep, constant cleaning, and keeping the kids engaged. It is too much even for the ‘I can handle it all’ ones and I am certainly not one of those.
Kids feel it too.
A few days later, my five and half-year-old was unhappy about everything from the moment she woke up. I let it go, thinking it would pass, and she will get over it. However, by the evening, her behavior was completely unrecognizable – she was yelling, unresponsive, and trying to break everything. She is NEVER like that.
I gently asked her what was going on, and she burst out crying. She misses school, her friends, going to the park and everything normal about her life. She was feeling it and I am sure my youngest does too, although he cannot express much yet. We are all creatures of habit, and for the kids, even though they may not realize this, they thrive on the routine that has been established. The past few weeks have been anything but routine.
These experiences made me realize no matter who we are or where we are in our life, we are all feeling the burn. Some changes need to be made in our household because I strongly believe, just as much as we focus on good physical health, we have to focus on our mental health. We made some changes in our household and some in our expectations over the last few weeks that have made a positive difference in our daily lives. I wanted to share some of these with you.
Communicate new expectations:
One of the first things I have learned through this experience is my husband is not to blame for everything. I know it would be too easy to get away with, but he didn’t cause this. What did help was to be really honest and open up about our expectations for one and other. Boundaries for work and home life have been blurred like never before, so a new set of rules have to be established for everyone in the family.
This meant a few things for our family:
– Both my husband and I would plan our workday so we could engage with the kids
– My older daughter would have a loose routine to follow, which consisted of online classes, puzzles, coloring books, reading, Legos and other things she enjoys
– We still stick to the bedtime and nap time schedules to make sure the kids and grown-ups are all well rested
– Everyone in the family will get time to exercise daily–including the kids. This was difficult on the days when it was rainy or too cold to go outside (we live in Midwest and it is cold many of the days), so my daughter came up with the idea of obstacle courses in the basement. If nothing worked, then 30-40 circles around the dining table worked wonders.
Everyone must chip in:
As a family, we do a decent job of balancing chores, but the new life we found ourselves in needed some more chipping in from everyone. My husband took over breakfasts especially on the weekends and helps with dinner prep. He is also in-charge of laundry and loading the dishwasher.
We agree on the menu for the next day the night before so we can meal prep and plan for what we have to cook. My daughter is learning to fold laundry. She is also in-charge of clean up for both her and her little brother before bedtime. In the last few weeks, she has learned to independently take baths, which has been one less chore for the parents!
Count your blessings:
Amidst all of this, I have learned to count my blessings. My husband travels for work, and now he has not been traveling for the past 1.5 months. This means more time with the kids and me. We have been able to complete several small projects at home because we are together, eat dinner together in the evenings, and enjoy family time.
My daughter doesn’t feel rushed and is way more relaxed. She is not overtired and gets time to do things she really loves – like playing with her younger brother, reading, and going out on the patio and soaking in the sun. Her behavior has improved tremendously, and I can rely on her for many small tasks during the day without a frown.
I have been able to get exercise more regularly than I used to. I am eating healthier and trying new foods, which has expanded all our palates–including my daughter’s.
Lastly, my little one is happier that mom and dad are around so much more, and we all get to enjoy the cuddles any time of the day.
Last but not least–give yourself some grace:
While nothing is nowhere near perfect, perfection is not what I am going for. I have learned trying to be perfect in everything will be disastrous for my mental health in the current times. So, it is okay for kids to walk in during meetings. It is also okay for my daughter to have screen time daily if we have some boundaries.
Sometimes, ramen or Maggi (a favorite noodle in India) is perfect for dinner. Education doesn’t have to be through zoom meetings or books, baking or gardening can be educational as well. Some days of no routines are fine too, everyone needs a break. And sometimes, it is perfectly fine to let yourself go, have that breakdown, let it all out so you can move on.
Hope all of you are finding ways to stay sane and healthy and are focusing on your mental and physical health.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Charu Makkar of Wine and Onesie. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more stories from parents during quarantine:
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‘This may come as a surprise…but we aren’t on a routine. My house is not a school. My children do work when they feel like it.’: Mom gives herself ‘grace’ during quarantine, ‘I don’t feel bad about it’
‘This week I cried over potato chips. My husband asked what was wrong. As I said, ‘Nothing,’ I burst into tears. Big, wet, ugly, stupid, wracking sobs.’: Mom says ‘no matter how great or small our stress, we are all hurting’
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