It’s not even been a month since daycare opened up a bit. Now it’s been announced that from Thursday on it will be closed except for the children of a parent with a system-essential job. That means back to crisis mode. Last time I took a week off to recover from that. I don’t feel ready for this one yet.
Just to be clear: the problem isn’t having children at home—although it can be challenging, I love spending so much time with them. The problem isn’t that I love my job so much that I only want to work—although I really don’t like the big difference between working my normal 70% and 50% (a full working day of not being available for appointments). The two big problems are:
- The children get bored after weeks at home. Which they don’t admit but it shows in how lethargic they become, cry more and don’t even want do tiny chores like putting away their dirty dishes. Visiting interesting places defeats the purpose of a lockdown—at daycare at least the number of interactions is very limited.
- Working is harder when there’s the children are at home, even if my spouse is watching them. I can ignore some shouts and cries, but having that day in, day out is tough. I don’t like locking my door, but if I don’t they’ll walk in. And if I do, there’s a high chance one of them starts banging it until I open up.
- My time off is limited to the evenings where I don’t bring the children to bed. That means I don’t get to work out much, to the detriment of my mood. (Although I could try doing workouts in the morning again. Earlier that didn’t work, as I would wake up the children and then they’d wake up my spouse. Everyone grumpy because papa was so loud.)
During the first lockdown we didn’t let the children play with others at all (even the playgrounds were closed, remember). That was a sad time. In the second one we figured it was okay to let them play outside with a small number of their best friends and neighbors. As there were no known cases of where the corona virus spread between toddlers, I believe that was totally fine. But now I’m not so sure. There are cases where the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus (which is deadlier and more contagious) infected whole households, with little children bringing in the virus.
After my first panic last year, when there were still so many unknowns, I learned to accept that my spouse or I would catch the virus. After all, often only one partner gets sick, without infecting others. It felt like a big gift that little children were only extremely rarely affected and didn’t contribute to spreading the virus. But now it’s like we’re dealing with a whole other pandemic. With B.1.1.7, it’s not unlikely that two parents get severely ill at the same time, while their children too are having bad symptoms. I haven’t heard of what parents are supposed to do in such a scenario where everybody should quarantine, but no one can take care of the children and household.
I hope that when I read this back in a few years time, I’m wondering why I was so stressed while the vaccines were already being distributed. It’s only a matter of months before it’s my turn, right? Well, it would just be extra sad to catch it now and then die or be impaired for the rest of my life. And the numbers only look scarier than an year ago. And of course, working without daycare is mad stressful. Can’t be flexible making appointments. No breaks between work and household. If you know how to be patient with a 3-year-old after rushing through a full work day in half the time, let me know.