Last week was spirit week for our elementary school, and the teachers were very clear: If this is stressful or overwhelming, scrap it. That’s basically how they’ve been with this whole new school-at-home thing, and I am so thankful. My kids understand that there’s something in the air that they’ve never felt before. They see the masks at school lunch pick-up and in the grocery store parking lot. They know their school, our church, and favorite restaurants are closed. They know we can’t go to dinner at Mormor’s house or play with the neighborhood kids.
It’s weird and not normal and they have every right to their feelings.
And so do you.
My kids go between rocking at-home learning and playing in the backyard and doing online church to completely and totally falling apart over what seems to be the tiniest thing. I myself vacillate between panic, despair, overwhelm, fear, and a smidge of hope-laced silver lining.
My mind is especially racing with the overly available and advertised things to do, especially with kids. Listen, I don’t have more free time than I did pre-coronavirus. I’m still working, and so is my husband — both of us now from home (which is absolutely a complete privilege, I’ll be the first to say). We’re guiding our three little kids through preschool, kindergarten, and second grade via ninety-seven iPad apps, various daily assignments, video call check-ins, worksheets, and recess in the backyard. (I refuse to say homeschooling or teaching. I’m guiding. I’m not choosing curriculum or purchasing books or anything; I’m helping them through the lessons their actual teachers provide.) My porch is a one-room schoolhouse. There are more meals and snacks and fingerprints and spills and time together than ever. My dishwasher is running constantly. I am not bored or looking for projects or more things for my kids to do.
I am aiming for C-level parenting/wife-ing/schooling, because a C is still a passing grade, and no one is asking me to be more than that — but the pressure gets to me when I see the constant sharing of more resources and educational things my kids can do online. I have to say NOPE. I cannot handle one more thing added to my task list. Or theirs. I’m just trying for that C. I’m getting by.
There is no shame in getting by. It’s a pandemic, not a vacation from real life.
Between a first trimester that kept me either on the couch or in the bathroom for four months (did I tell you I’m expecting my fourth this fall?!) and an abrupt end to every single routine we’ve ever had, I’m feeling the need to renew my word of the year from several years back — basic. I’ve reached new levels of sloth. My water intake and nutrition are shot. I haven’t been walking. My sleep is interrupted and short, and so is my temper. I’m a planner with an empty calendar and no end in sight. It’s all wreaking havoc on my brain and heart.
Now that the nausea and hit-by-a-truck exhaustion of the first trimester are behind me (finally, at twenty weeks along!), I’m ready to do a little more, but none of this “quarantine hustle” junk I keep reading about. As I did years ago, I need to focus on the basics.
Rest. Water. Good food. Walking. Brushing my teeth. Getting dressed (and yeah, “day jammies” are a thing and they count.) Meal planning. One load of laundry at a time. Reading books instead of scrolling. Basics.
That’s what I need and what I can offer my kids. I found out during my original year of getting back to basics that reviving them can change a life, re-right things that have been upended, and allow space for growth.
Remember, we’re aiming for C-level parenting these days, and getting our basics in can help, even if our bar is low. Fueling our tanks with genuine care can lead to fueling theirs with patience, peace, and joy. The basics are not big things, just one little thing at a time, and that’s what makes them possible. It’s like building blocks of wellness for grownups. And once they’re solidly laid down, other higher bar things can be added on. But not until then.
So if you rage a little when you see another free resource or meme about having time but not discipline, and your house is trashed and your soul is stretched, let’s sit together. You’re still Wonder Woman, you know. We all are. We are doing the best we can, and that is ENOUGH. Feel the feelings, let the kids feel theirs, and get back to the basics (again). Let’s hang in there, together.
What basics have been running low for you that can be revived?
We are doing the best we can, and that is ENOUGH. -@annaerendell: Click To Tweet