Parents of Young Kids During the Pandemic: We See You & Support You
Sometimes, we need a reminder of what life is like for others.
I had a great FaceTime conversation with one of my oldest friends the other day. Her name is Jennifer and she lives in Alaska with her husband and two kids. I've known Jenny since 1st grade; her husband was also a classmate of ours.
Jennifer is a nurse who works third shift and her husband is in the Air Force. They have two kids, both under 12.
During our Facetime, I was reminded of what it's like to be the mom of a young child. I could see it in her face - she's exhausted. Her sweet little girl was hanging off her every word; she barely had a moment to sit down and eat her lunch. I asked her if she was sleeping okay - her response was, "Yeah, I nap here and there."
She's jumping from helping her 11-year-old son with school to entertaining her younger daughter. She got a few bites of a salad while we were talking; she's also trying to protect her family from anything she might pick up while at work.
I was instantly reminded of what it's like to have a child that young. Our son is 13 now; he can do his online school by himself, he eats when he's hungry and plays XBOX when he's not doing school stuff. I've actually had to force him to play a board game with me while we're quarantined.
Our son is on the autism spectrum; he barely slept until he was about six years old and he was definitely a handful, even on a good day. He's learned to cope as he's gotten older, and parenting has gotten much, much easier.
The more I talk to my friends who have younger kids, the more I empathize with what it must be like right now. I can't IMAGINE being quarantined with my son, at a young age, with no help and no end in sight. I remember when our son was younger and people would tell us "not to worry, he'll sleep when he's a teenager and won't want to hang out with you."
That's great, but it doesn't offer much comfort when you're completely exhausted and there isn't any relief on the horizon for years to come.
She's my hero, for more reasons than this.
I want parents of young kids to know that WE SEE YOU. We know you're doing your best. Don't feel like you have to exhaust yourself by homeschooling your kids for 8 hours per day. Don't feel like you have to come up with cute crafts and activities for your kids to prove that you're creative on Instagram.
Do what you can. This, too, shall pass. And until it does, we're all in this together...but apart. Take care of yourself, too. You're not any good to your kids if you aren't healthy yourself.