We have officially passed the 1st “Corona-versary” and what a crazily exhausting year it has been as a single mom of 3 kids. The first few months saw the first phase of global lockdowns and shelves clearing faster than an after Christmas clearance sale. Toilet paper and pasta became the new currency and all those Doomsday preppers didn’t look so crazy after all.
The schools shut down “temporarily” until after Easter break, many businesses shut down, and we were encouraged to work from home if we could. A few parents were upset by this, but most thought it could be a nice few weeks to spend more time with the little ones. A few weeks with the kids, ah what poor naïve little souls we were.
Forced into homeschool programs
After Easter was when we all knew how serious the situation would turn out to be. International travel was shut down, the holiday we spent a year paying for was canceled and refunded. Most parents were then forced into homeschooling their kids. I spent a whole day making home school schedules and plans for the kids. We would have math in the morning, a small walk around the block, followed by reading, lunch, arts, and crafts. I had a color-coded chart and everything.
I tried to order a laptop to help with the homeschooling, but the day I was due to collect, all “non-essential” shops closed. It looks like we would be stuck with the one computer between the 4 of us. Around this time, my middle son developed a fever, full-body rash, and a cough.
He was admitted to the hospital, put on intravenous (IV) antibiotics, and we were isolated in a room for tests to determine if he got infected with COVID-19 or not. I felt some relief by how thorough the doctors were. It gave me a sense of confidence that we would be through with COVID by the summer; life would continue as normal.
When we got out of the hospital, I had to visit a grocery store for a refill; my previously reliable delivery slots were now rarer than gold dust. After 10 years of successfully avoiding shopping trips, I now had to brave shopping with three kids in a pandemic. Everyone would try their best to avoid you, so shopping was relatively nice in that regard. But the empty shelves and the constant “don’t touch that” reminders that came out of my mouth were not as fun.
As the months progressed, we all got a slight reprieve around summertime. The kids went back to school and it felt like maybe, just maybe, this would all be over. But then the 3rd phase of lockdown hit, and it hit really hard. More recently, kids went off school for Christmas break and haven’t been back since.
Schools have gotten more serious about homeschooling seeing as that’s the only form of schooling the kids will get at this point. Before, my kids would be given a few assignments per day to do as and when they could. Some days we knocked it out of the park and all the school work would be done before noon. Other days no one was even out of bed at that time. Lockdown time seems to pass in a different way than it did before. Days merge; you can have breakfast at lunchtime and pajamas are the new uniform of the week.
My kids’ school now releases “schedules” for the kids, including time-specific Zoom classes 3-4 times per day (per child). The workload included is about 2 hours per child, which is 6 hours of homeschooling per day for me. Sadly they’re all so young and from the tablet and smartphone generation that doesn’t know how to use a mouse or keyboard, so all these tasks can take even longer. I now find myself taking up a 30 hour job with no experience, no training, no support, no holidays, and on a purely voluntary basis.
The work from home revolution is not working
I went back to school and managed to recently complete my Bachelor’s degree just in time for the chain of lockdowns to begin. As you can imagine, my career progression has ground to a halt—with people encouraged to work from home, kids off school, and everyone’s general cooties awareness going through the roof. Of course, this means that my actual job (you know, the one I need to pay the bills) has been relegated to nighttime hours.
Once the kids settle down, mostly in front of a PlayStation with their friends, I then get to work. Yes, I’ve had to become that mom, and I know I’m not the only one. Many nights have been fueled by ridiculous amounts of coffee and an accepted loss of sleep hours.
With my 6 hours of homeschooling morning shifts followed by my similar home working night shift, I have to fit in similar long hours of making meals and cleaning the house somewhat. At this stage, a 60-75% clean efficiency is fair enough because anything above this seems unattainable at the moment.
In fact, I would hazard a guess that my performance which is usually around the 85-90% mark, has dropped to 60% across the board. Work projects are later than expected. Homeschooling is completed just before dinner time. The couch hasn’t been lifted and swept under since last Tuesday…
Lockdown exhaustion takes its toll
And honestly, I’m too exhausted to care at this point. A single mom is usually doing 2 jobs already. She works a job that pays the bills and another job that runs the house and feeds the kids. Now imagine we’re working 3 jobs within the same number of hours during a worldwide health crisis while mostly isolated.
If you do this and you’ve managed to maintain the 85% mark or above, hats off! I’m definitely not. Some days I complete my homeschooling duties and work projects on time, but the house is destroyed. Then I spend my weekends in a hazmat suit cleaning all the Cheerios that have been collecting in cracks and ignored.
I finally sort and put away the mountain of laundry that was washed and piled during the week. I wipe off the glaring handprints from mirrors and walls and finally feel like my house is clean again. Then I realize it’s Sunday night and the whole cycle resets tomorrow.
The pandemic has impacted our lives in so many ways and much to the detriment of our well being. From the series of lockdown restrictions so far, it seems the lockdown-induced fatigue may not end any time soon. So we just have to learn how to process the implications and power through pandemic burnout.
One year of this botched routine and I’m already so done. I want to book a holiday at the beach, slam back glasses of sangria, and forget about the last 12 months of my life. The early lockdown naivety has escaped me, so I no longer focus on when it will end. Now I just try to maintain a reasonable 70% across the board and hope that Coronavirus gives up before I do.