PARENTING

Coping in quarantine: “Why am I so tired?” and other pandemic problems

As if there’s not enough to manage through already right now, I’m so tired.

The kind of tired where, by the end of the day, just when you finally have the chance to start chipping away at your mile-long to-do list — the one that includes catching up on texts with friends and school emails and watching the news and everything else, you just can’t do anything but curl up and fall asleep.

The kind of tired where you have the internal debate in your head about whether you can skip washing your face and brushing your teeth for one night — I mean, your kids openly argue about brushing — at least you have the control to keep it silent in your head. (Note, from experience: You’ll always feel better if you brush your teeth).

The kind of tired where you’re actually kind of annoyed with yourself because you know you can handle this just like you handle everything. You used to work even longer hours and have a long commute, you survived the newborn stages and toddler years. You’ve had loved ones with health stuff to deal with. You are not weak. You are on top of it all and you handle things because you have to. So why are you so tired now, when you’re really just mostly at home?

The kind of tired where you finally realize THIS. IS. DIFFERENT. This is big. This is weighing on hearts and health and minds.

How am I coping in quarantine? I’m cutting myself some slack, and I recommend you do so as well. There are a lot of big emotions that result from a global pandemic (yeah, I said that with conviction as if I’ve been through this before), and what I’m finding is that, as you can expect, all of them combined make me TIRED. Are you going through this, too?

Loneliness:

Is it actually possible to feel lonely when you’re quarantined at home in a house full of your family, with no personal space and not a minute alone? Yes. I miss my friends. Sure, I see them from across the street, or on Zoom calls. But I miss being with them. And more than I knew I would, I miss greeting them or saying goodbye with a hug.

For the first month-and-a-half, I completely held it together, coping in quarantine through it all — home schooling and remote work and a new boss and a friend with Covid-19 and an ailing grandmother and bored kids and a scary world. But it all hit me when we recently held a car parade in my neighborhood to show support for healthcare workers and school staff. We drove around beeping our horns and playing music in decorated cars. And when we drove by a friend’s house, and I saw her — a brave and dedicated nurse — standing outside her house with her kids and waving from afar as we passed by, I cried. Somehow, seeing her, knowing how brave she is every day to drive to the hospital, and knowing I couldn’t just run and hug her — it made my heart sink a bit and realize I felt lonely. I missed her. I missed my friends.

Stress:

Protecting your family, protecting yourself. Stocking up on supplies and food in a reasonable manner. Washing hands. Disinfecting surfaces. Working from home. Working from home WHILE making sure your kids are engaging in their remote learning , or actually teaching them yourself. Take that all in for a minute. It’s stressful, and exhausting. A global pandemic. Misinformation. Conflicting advice. Wanting so badly to get back to normal but also knowing you’re not quite ready for that.

Guilt:

How many times today did you say “I can’t right now” to your kids or snap at them when they asked you their 1042nd question of the hour? Only to remember that their worlds have also been turned upside down, that they’re also missing their friends, they’re probably bored, they’re coping in quarantine, too. That the reason they seem to need you constantly right now is because they NEED you. They need your presence, your reassurance, your answers, and your actions and words to help bring some sense of normalcy. But no matter how badly you want to be supportive through all of that, you’re juggling like you’ve never juggled before — all that stress, and loneliness, and work, and school, and wondering where the world is heading and when, if ever, things will get back to the old normal instead of the new normal.

Anxiety:

Nope, not the same as stress. The way I see it (note, I didn’t look up and validate real definitions), feeling super-overwhelmed and trying to manage and master it all at a time when that may be virtually impossible is stressful. But the worrying about things you can only partly control can drive you to a very anxious state. Did my kids stand too close to the kids down the street? Did I wash my hands enough after touching grocery bags? What if I send my kids to an event when stuff opens back up, and someone gets sick? Am I over-reacting to all of this? Maybe I should overthink it a bit. Or maybe I should avoid the overthinking and just follow my gut and make the best informed choices I can. Regardless, it’s exhausting right now.

Sadness.

People are sick. People are dying. Loved ones miss each other. Doctors and nurses are putting themselves at risk. It’s generally just different right now. Two good friends of mine said this week, “I just had a really rough day. This is hard.” People are going through stuff. And everyone handles it and expresses it differently.

Well, I’m sure this has been uplifting so far. LOL. But seriously, no wonder we’re tired, right?

What can we do about it to make coping in quarantine actually doable?

  • Are your mornings less crazy since everyone is staying home? Don’t set the alarm. Sleep a little later.
  • Move. I wake up every day thinking it will be a great day to exercise. Then I make excuses. But the days when I actually do get up and MOVE — whether it’s a home workout or an online fitness class or a walk around the block, I feel so much better and full of energy.
  • Balance your day with chocolate. Hey, it’s totally justifiable if you also are getting up and moving. Endorphins. And yumminess.
  • Find ways to help. Shifting my energy from worrying and overthinking to positively impacting others at this time has been great for my family and me.
  • Stay connected. Set up that zoom call. Send mail. Get on social media. Wave to neighbors. Do a socially distant visit with someone.
  • Stay informed. But don’t overdose on news. I’ve been making sure I’m up-to-date, but I haven’t been listening to every story, every development in medical research, every spike in Covid-19 cases. I’m not ignoring reality, but rather making it a bearable reality to live through for my family.
  • Let yourself go through it. If you’re in a car parade and the tears start flowing, that’s ok. If you take an extra-long shower and breathe in the scent of the body wash as a fleeting moment of relaxation, enjoy it. Whatever it takes to get you through.
  • Remember the KIDS! Give hugs to the ones who need hugs, play with the ones who want to play, answer their questions, reassure them.
  • Remember this will end. It may last longer than we had hoped or expected (just like this blog post), but this situation won’t last forever. Make plans to look forward to. And in the meantime, grab little slices of normalcy where you can.

What are you feeling, and how are you coping in quarantine?

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