After weeks and weeks of high-energy, pent-up living, I could feel my fuse growing shorter and shorter. Little things would happen that I’d find myself overreacting to. A glass of water gets bumped off the table onto the floor. Clean laundry ends up strewn around their rooms. A battle for control of the TV. I’d blow up, then apologize, then we’d move on.
I realized this wasn’t healthy. Between my short fuse and the relaxation I found after they went to bed for the night, I found myself asking, “am I a bad dad for wishing they weren’t home all the time?”
I mentioned this feeling to a buddy of mine and was surprised at his answer. He and his wife have two kids, and after telling him about just wanting some peace and quiet he said:
“Dude, I don’t know how you’re keeping it together as well as you are. I’ve got Sarah here with me 24/7 and we’re both going nuts. You’re not a bad dad—you just need a break!”
I felt immediate relief. To hear another parent express the same feelings and tell me it’s okay to have them was like a weight off of my chest. In a twist of irony, another friend texted me later that day to express his own frustration with his kids. I passed on the sentiment I got from my friend and for just a moment, felt something for the slogan that’s been floating around with COVID-19: we’re all in this together.
Despite affirming my feelings, I was still stuck with the problem of two high-energy kids and no escape. So, I did what I always do—I reached out to my parent network. I was able to source some ideas for settling them down and bringing order into my house, and I’m happy to say that I no longer feel pushed to my wits’ end all the time! The girls are video chatting with friends regularly, reading books, doing sit-down activities—and we even have an hour of quiet time each day, for things like guided meditation.
If you’re out there feeling like a bad parent because you want to escape your kids and get them back into the world, don’t be. Parents need peace and quiet too. We need to recharge our batteries and regain our patience, and the only way to do that sometimes is to get a little peace and quiet.
The Coronavirus lockdown won’t last forever—while it’s in effect, treasure those few fleeting moments of quiet and get your kids to focus on things that aren’t so high-energy all the time. You’ll be amazed at how fast your patience comes back!