Dear Is This Normal,
I’m “co-parenting” during COVID-19 but we’re self-isolating and my ex is still going to work so I’m the one taking care of the kids full time. It’s exhausting and draining to be home by myself with the kids all day, everyday, without any help. I’m used to being a single parent when it’s my “turn,” but I wasn’t prepared to be the sole parent for such an extended period of time and I’m starting to get resentful. Help!
Dear On My Own,
Oh honey, I hear you and I completely commiserate with your frustration and resentment. This whole pandemic quarantine thing is something that none of us expected…or prepared for…or can manage at all times. The (attempted) working from home and schooling from home and not being able to leave the house, all while buried under the stress and anxiety of being legitimately terrified of a deadly virus that’s sweeping the population? No, I do not recall this in my copy of What to Expect. And for parents in this situation—moms and dads who went from amicably co-parenting with their ex to suddenly flying solo—the added stress of having no help can be almost unbearable.
I want you to know that you are definitely not alone. I know it doesn’t feel that way and I know it doesn’t solve any problems, but so many of us are right there with you. My Instagram feed is filled with all these amazing-looking quarantine lifestyles—parents who are working out every morning, creating meticulous scheduled for their kids by day, and flexing their culinary skills at night—and I’m over here wondering WTF I am doing wrong, because I measure a good day by how many times someone cries. If it’s less than four, we’re having a great day. It’s OK to be resentful of your current situation! I love my kids more than anything in the world, but I didn’t expect to be spending every waking moment of the day with them for going on five weeks and let me tell you, it’s taking a toll.
Now, in a regular, non-pandemic scenario, if your ex was skating on their parental duties? My first and only piece of advice would be to get your lawyer on the phone and have a chat about your current custody agreement (at least that’s my MO). But these are extraordinary times. And if your ex is still working, out in public around other people and potentially being exposed to the virus, then coming around the kids starts to veer into dangerous territory. For the safety of yourself and your kids, it’s necessary to keep your isolation cell small and contained (I’M SO SORRY, I KNOW IT’S HARD).
That doesn’t mean your ex shouldn’t be helping out and contributing as much as possible. Ask them to pick up your groceries and leave them on your porch to take one thing off your plate. If you have school-aged kiddos, set up FaceTime sessions with the other parent to go over school work, read together, or even just talk about their day. Make sure they’re able to communicate often, your kids are probably missing them something fierce.
But most of all, go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about giving your kids more screen time than you normally would—you need some quiet time to yourself. Try to stick to a routine as much as possible (kids love that ish), and maybe make bedtime a skotch earlier so you have downtime without the kids around at the end of the night. Lower your expectations of what should be happening with school right now—you are not homeschooling your children, you are schooling at home during a crisis. Be gentle with yourself and if you need to lock yourself in the bathroom to get some peace for a bit, then do it. I’m hoping this all starts to feel semi-normal pretty soon. Not easy, just … normal. We can do hard things, mama—remember when you birthed those minis?
In This Together,
Is This Normal