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Why Taking a Moment to Myself Is a Must Amid the Quarantine

We needed groceries. I turned off my van and sat. I focused on my breathing. Deep, slow breaths in and out. I was in no hurry to go into the store. I watched the people coming and going. Their clothes were a sign of the warming weather. There were no groups of teenagers, but mostly one or two people per car. I noticed more people wearing masks and rarely a child in sight.

Since the beginning of COVID-19 I have been a little anxious about shopping. Mostly I’m anxious about the germs I fear are on the items that I will soon be piling into my cart, and eventually taking home with me.

On this particular evening though, I was not reluctant to open my door because of the possibility of catching coronavirus. I was reluctant because of what the quarantine from the coronavirus has done to my emotional state recently. Today I am feeling beat down and defeated. I am tired. I am restless. I am indecisive.

At first, I was OK. School shutdown was abrupt, but we managed. Facilitating classroom work at home was a challenge, but we got the hang of it. We have enjoyed family meals at the table every evening and the extra time we’ve had to spend together outdoors. Having work hours cut and discontinuing face-to-face contact with families was an even bigger adjustment for me, but I have learned new ways of working. With the help of video conferencing, I can run a Zoom meeting and still manage the munchkins in the next room. It doesn’t always go as smoothly as I hope for, but for the most part, it’s doable.

I was stalling. I knew that the sooner I walked through those grocery store doors, the sooner I would be back at home. I wasn’t ready to go home. I wasn’t ready. I love my children with everything I have. I love spending time with them and talking and playing and being silly and serious and snuggly. But being in quarantine with them essentially all day, every day, for the last six weeks (is that even right? I have lost track!), has started to take a toll on us all. While my husband continues to go back and forth to work as usual (as usual as it can be in a pandemic), the rest of our household have had to pass our time from sun up to sun down together…under the same roof… and without “real” contact with friends or teachers or co-workers.

Like I mentioned before, at first this wasn’t so bad. It was nice to unplug from all the running and drama and time crunching that goes on in our every day lives. There has been so much to be grateful for from this slower pace we were forced into. However, my boys and I are now starting to feel the emotional effects of quarantine and social distancing. We are becoming more and more annoyed with each other lately. Patience is becoming an unknown. I swear we are literally flipping out if someone isn’t breathing right or if we look at each other the wrong way. Then there is the constant thing with boys where they just can’t keep their hands to themselves and someone is always pushing, poking, bumping, bothering, smacking, or hitting just because! Basically just “living” is enough of an irritation and a cause for a fight.

I have been finding comfort in my lack of adult conversation and my overstimulation from my boy mom world by staying up late and binge watching Netflix. I look forward to this alone time when everyone is in bed, but I am finding myself getting less and less sleep. It has become a vicious cycle that needs reigned in or my fine lines and wrinkles will start catching up to my quarantine gray hair.

So I took the extra time in the parking lot to focus on the quiet and the still. For a short while, it gave my mind permission to wander in “any” direction, and not be stuck on the same track of care provider. Emotional well-being is important, especially now. Self-care does not have to be a day at a spa. For me, it was a trip to the Walmart parking lot. For me it was some time alone without hearing the words “mom-mommy-momma-mother,” without the dramatic shenanigans of Fortnite play, or without seeing the incessant arguing and bickering from the little souls I love so much. Being in charge of the social-emotional and physical well-being of so many all day, every day, can be hard. Sometimes taking a step back is the best option.

I took my moment. I got my emotions organized. Tomorrow is a new day, a better day and I will be ready for it. Bring on the “mom-mom-mom” because I got this, and so do you.

Photo credit: humonia/Getty Images

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Take Me Home