Pandemic Parenting is not anything that I ever thought I’d be writing about or doing. Let’s be real here. The biggest hardships in our lives, until now, related to struggling with illness, losing our parents to cancer and Alzheimer’s and advocating for a child with special needs.
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Pandemic Parenting and All of the Initial Emotions
But, parenting teens through a pandemic and finding the way ourselves has been depressing, anxiety-provoking, desperate, disappointing, and at times flat out sad. Sure, there have been happy moments too. But, this is not that post. Another day I will find myself there.
That first week of pandemic parenting was a tremendously hard week for all. One of the hardest in the history of our family. We postponed our family ski trip and March break plans due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
When Travel is Respite and It Stops
There really was no choice. As soon as the Trudeau government announced that all non essential travel needed to stop, we had to reassess. No easy choice. That trip to Vermont is crazy enjoyable, but it’s also our family respite. By March of every year we need to ski hard. School, work, life and advocating for kids with special needs takes all of it, every last drop.
Every week of every year is like that.
But, this year was already worse in some ways.
Sometimes adulting is hard. Actually, most of the time adulting is hard, so we made the call and cancelled the trip. Postponed, I kept saying. One of the girls was packed already and she was ready to go. The other had moved work around and was clearly looking forward to the week of skiing.
For Much of 2019…
So what? Well, for much of 2019 our family was in crisis, my youngest daughter with FASD struggled with mental health issues and explosive behaviours. I hunted down supports for months, while we all slid deeper into a depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Finally, I’d found some small thread of hope, a peer group of parents and youth with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) a slender, but graspable lifeline.
Then, of course, that was also cancelled. Support gone.
Then the Pandemic Hit
All I kept thinking as the pandemic hit was this: we are barely holding on, and have been parenting a child in crisis for months. How does that look during a pandemic? What is mental health crisis plus pandemic? How would we cope?
I am not a person who sits around and watches her family sink. But suddenly, that’s exactly what we were being told to do. Stop everything. Reevaluate how and when and where you go shopping for groceries. Limit your exposure to the outside and to people and then everything else fell away too. School, sports, lessons, camp, friends. All gone.
It was recommended here in Ontario, Canada last week that all travel be stopped, so we followed the recommendations. We quickly went into self distancing mode and one of my daughter’s friends made us masks. That was sweet.
Glued to the News
So, we started watching the news with a new vigilance trying to educate and also gather resources while predicting how long this could last.
I’d be a huge liar if I told you that I didn’t sit in the bathroom and cry. Or, if I failed to mention that my one teen slipped into higher level of anxiety while my explosive youngest blamed it all on us and flipped shit a few times. Around us a lot of people seemed to be walking around in disbelief still clinging to routines.
That part was hardest on my youngest daughter. She is a black and white thinker, which is common to kids with FASD. So, she watched friends still going out and being social.
Martial arts and therapeutic riding cancelled, school paused and travel on hold for the foreseeable future, for the first few weeks I was glued to the news and the live daily press briefing updates. The kids were angry and at least one kept asking me if she could go see her friends. Social distancing became the norm and we held on.
And an Emergency Root Canal
Meanwhile, one of my molars that had been low level irritating and was being watched by my dentist, erupted into full blown pain. By Monday of that first week, I was googling how did Tom Hanks’s character remove his own molar on Castaway.
There was a fair bit of apprehension about what would close next. A big part of me was wondering if my tooth would hurt this much for weeks on end. Maybe months.
Everything was closing as I already noted and I was sure that my dentist was also shutting down. But I called anyways. Literally that day their governing body said dentists are only open for emergencies. I confidently said pretty sure this is an emergency and had an appointment that same morning.
At the Dentist
Dentists couldn’t access the proper protective equipment to be safe while doing exams so they had to close up shop. But mine squeezed me in and did an emergency root canal right there. Three hours later I left the dentist with a numb mouth (thank god!) I have never ever been more grateful for my dentist in. my life.
Anyways, week one of pandemic parenting was rough. Not going to lie or sugar coat it at all. It sucked. However once I had my tooth repaired, we set about trying to make the best of it.
Finding Online Fitness Workouts
When gyms closed entirely I shifted my workout to online fitness workouts and that helped.
None of this was what I was used to. I typically work out at the YMCA 4-5 times a week on various group classes. So, this was a stretch. In fact, none of us were used to pandemic parenting.
We didn’t know what would happen next and to be honest it was scary for everyone.
Here’s a bit of what we ended up doing in Week Two to Try and Get Through. Parenting Teens and 19 Things Teens Can Do During a Pandemic.
My youngest expressed a lot of anger that first week. She had literally just been grounded and then that was about to finish and the lockdown hit.
She kept saying: “It feels like I am being punished for something.”
Disappointment, denial, sadness, pain and anger. That was basically all within the first week!
How are you doing and how did your first week go?