As a busy working mom of two, I sometimes forget the tasks that face stay-at-home parents all over the world. Regardless of whether that parent is mom or dad, the responsibilities of a parent are never-ending. That playroom you just cleaned two-hours ago now needs your attention again. That snack you instructed them to eat in the kitchen has made its way into the hallway and those paints you asked them not to touch have magically been opened. Everyday, while different, is filled with the same routines, just different challenges.
With everything happening due to COVID-19, I found myself in a transition from working mom to a quarantined mom with my two kids. On one hand, I had been repeatedly saying that I wanted to have more home time with the kids. On the other hand, I had no idea that the very thing I was asking for would bring me to a new level of my own mental health awareness. While I love my children, I’ve grown to appreciate when I do actually receive space from them as a result of this quarantine.
My normal routine of getting my kids up and ready for their day, whether it be school or grandmas’ house, getting them breakfast, and heading off to work had drastically changed. Now my routine consisted of getting both kids up, potty training my one-year old, making breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus two snacks, attending virtual school for 4 hours with my 5 year old, repeatedly cleaning the same rooms over and over, doing laundry, sweeping and mopping my kitchen floor 3+ times a day, watching the same shows on Netflix, singing the same nursery rhymes, & somehow finding time to complete my homework.
By time their dad gets home , I’m mentally and physically exhausted. I’m over Little Baby Bum, Ninja Turtles, and anything that involves my kitchen. I even found myself yelling more than I wanted and becoming overly frustrated with my kids, not realizing they were slowly becoming just as stir crazy as I was. In times of boredom, you start to find little things to keep you entertained and in my house for my kids, that generally amounted to destruction. Here I was ready for them to be tired out and just sit down somewhere so I could get something done and in the 10minutes it may have taken me to catch up on the dishes they had already destroyed a room I just finished cleaning. I wanted to be angry but I couldn’t. They were just as tired of being in the house as I was.
1 month later, I think we have finally gotten our quarantine down packed. We have a set schedule for everything. They both take a nap or rest period immediately after school is done and this allows me to clean up the house, get laundry done, and just take a moment for myself. We have incorporated working out, baking desserts, finding a new movie, and break dancing into our everyday routine. We even created our own in-house Hackensack game with gel ice packs and cardboard boxes. I’ve learned so many new hiding places in my house I never would have thought about before. My list of recipes is growing and I feel a sense of calm now I did not have a month ago going into this.
My complaints have turned into new memories, creative ideas, and exciting moments with my kids I wouldn’t have had if not for COVID-19. While I’m still working on my level of patience and not losing my temper (steady work in progress) , learning to just let my kids work through their boredom has opened a new level of creativity in my son who is experimenting with his early architectural skills. It has taken a month but I can proudly say my 18-month old is doing well with her potty-training (still work to do though). My level of appreciation for these types of moments has grown and it saddens me that when I return to work this will no longer be my daily normal. It’s a bitter sweet moment to think about. While I long for my personal time once again, I will forever remember the time COVID-19 gave me with my babies. Sometimes the greatest gifts come in the craziest packaging.