There are many things you can say you’re reasonably prepared to deal with as a parent but being with your children 24/7 during a pandemic is probably not one of them. But here we are, a few weeks into self-isolation, and I have to say it’s not as much of a disaster as I was fearing. In fact, much to my great surprise, being a parent is actually helping me get through it.
What this pandemic has suddenly thrust everyone into is grappling with monotony and chaos all at the same time. And if there’s one thing that parenting is, it’s simultaneously monotonous and chaotic. By default, I’ve somehow found myself reasonably well equipped to deal with what’s ahead. (Silver linings, huh?)
As a parent you adhere to the same routine, you spend an awful lot of time at home and you generally do most things on repeat. It can be incredibly predictable yes, but during a time like this, I’m finding it comforting. While I can’t control what’s going on outside I do know what will happen inside. There’s a distinct rhythm to our day which moves it along easily, allowing us to inch a little bit closer to that moment where we can go back to normal again.
It can be incredibly predictable yes, but during a time like this, I’m finding it comforting.
It’s not to say it’s all sunshine and rainbows at our place. It’s still chaotic and relentless. The job of parenting is still literally and figuratively messy, pandemic or not. There’s still a neverending pile of laundry to deal with; there are still toys in every room of our house and there’s the juggling act of trying to squeeze work in during naps or while my boys are miraculously occupied for longer than five minutes. It’s tiring yes, but it does fill my days like nothing else.
And then there’s the fact kids are so adept at throwing a curveball at you just when you least expect it that it keeps each day from blending into the last. The other morning, I was met with a tantrum, a loose nappy situation that went horribly, horribly awry and a bumped head, all before having my morning coffee. If there’s one thing I can say about quarantine with toddlers, it’s that there’s no time for ruminating about alarming news headlines or the state of the world right now when you are busy chasing after two very active little boys.
While self-isolating with my sons has admittedly brought with it some unexpected, but wonderful upsides, it’s not to say I haven’t looked longingly at others I see whiling away the hours doing many things a parent can only dream about at this time: sleeping in, indulging in a relaxing bath or reorganising one’s home to a Marie Kondo-level standard. I’ve fantasised about what I would do with all the extra time at home if I were not a mum. Would I start writing that novel every writer swears they’ll get to one day? Would I finally manage to get through all the books on my bedside table? It’s a tantalising thought but the reality is that I’m not sure I would be faring as well if not for the distraction of parenting.
With the world feeling very uncertain right now it has brought all the more importance to the lovely moments with my boys that punctuate every day.
With the world feeling very uncertain right now it has brought all the more importance to the lovely moments with my boys that punctuate every day. There are the daily cooking projects my eldest son and I are doing together. So far, he’s mastered mixing batter and creating his own pizza and is enjoying being the little sous chef of the family. There’s watching my youngest son hit important milestones such as standing up on his own for the first time, trying to take tentative first steps and mastering new words. Regardless of a pandemic my baby will continue growing and developing as he would have beforehand. It’s a beautiful reminder that the world is still turning and will continue to do so. And I am grateful for the perfect full stop at the end of each day (as I’m sure most parents are); the part where I tuck my boys in, kiss them good night and I can finally give myself permission to stop and exhale.
Navigating this global crisis is undoubtedly scary as a parent. You worry about how it is affecting your children. You wonder if you’re doing a good job. You fear it will ever end. But the one thing I’ve learned is that children are resilient and they will, with our guidance, emerge from this. And as much as it’s an immense responsibility to try and shield them from the uncertainty around us right now, I’ve also learned that I need my kids as much as they need me, perhaps even more so right now.
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If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
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