Heads up: Check on your Mom friends with young kids, because THEIR quarantine life is hard, too. It may look like rainbows & cookies. But in between the magic, it’s hard. And maybe in a different way than yours.
I bet you can tell where I am in the picture above.
Yes, I’m in the bathroom.
And yes, I’m sitting on the toilet.
And if you’re a Mom with young kids, I bet you can tell me why I’m sitting there.
Because being a Mom with young kids is hard.
It’s totally & completely unrelenting. And sometimes escaping to the bathroom is the only way you can get a 2 minute break. And even then, it’s about 50/50 they’ll find you before you can take a breath.
(Breaking News: Dads aren’t the only ones who hide out in the bathroom. Mamas do it, too. Especially Moms with young kids.)
I recently realized that I’ve been doing myself a disservice. And I’d be willing to bet that you probably have, too. Especially if you’re a Mom who is quarantining with young kids.
I’m a Stay at Home Mom with 2 little kids. I’ve already talked about how surprised I was that being quarantined with young kids feels so much harder than just being home with young kids….home like I always am since I’m a SAHM.
For weeks, I’ve been feeling grateful & lucky that my kids are young so the pressures of school & curriculums & schedules & assignments don’t apply to them…which means they don’t apply to me, either. And I really am thankful for that. Because I can barely handle what’s already on my plate; I sure as heck don’t need another helping.
But here I’ve been thinking Moms with young kids have it so much easier than Mamas with kids who are older and thus are having to fill that school/teacher gap.
And in some ways, I think that still holds true.
But here’s what I didn’t realize at first: Social distancing with little kids is just as difficult—in a different, completely unrelenting way.
It took me about 5 weeks of being quarantined with my 2 young kids for that to hit me. But when it did, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I mean, don’t get me wrong—I’d a thousand times rather play superheroes or baby dolls or make chalk masterpieces with my kids than teach them calculus right now. No contest.
BUT there’s another element to this I’ve discounted and now I want to shout it from the rooftops for all of you Mamas with young children who are hanging on by the world’s thinnest thread some days like me:
Being a Mom with young kids right now IS extremely tough, just in very different ways than being a Mom with older children is right now (which is also extremely tough).
Newsflash: It’s not a contest. If it were, we’d all win.
So why is being a Mom with young kids so hard right now?
Because young children are completely, totally dependent on us. For food, for going to the bathroom, for getting dressed, for working through meltdowns over even the most minor of frustrations like trying to draw a T-Rex correctly. Or in my 3 year old daughter’s case, her epic meltdown because she “kept drawing her circles upside down.” And you can’t really reason with a 3 year old. When I explained that circles couldn’t be upside down because they were the same on all sides no matter how you drew them…well, let’s just say that did not help. Far from it, actually.
Young kids are bursting with energy. They want to play. Rough house. Tickle. Roll around. And just physically play. Sure they love vegging out in front of the TV, too. But then they want to DO SOMETHING.
They want to move and play. And not like dainty play. Like real play. Play play.
Their energy level is major, and the energy they require from us is major, too.
And young kids are demanding, whether they mean to be or not. Because even the most independent young child still needs us for stuff. To get something out of the panty or fridge. Or to go to the bathroom. To help pour their drink. To find something they can’t. And to fix…well, everything. Moms fix everything from booboos to block towers and a million things in between. Including broken little hearts over real stuff like missing their grandparents or friends. And over absurd stuff like the aforementioned T-Rex and circle fiascos.
The bottom line for Moms with young kids is this: they need us.
All day. Every day.
And that honestly is a lot different from older children.
Older kids who you can send to their room for hours when you just can’t Mom anymore. Older kids who want to be in their room by themselves anyway. (I am so not ready for those days. Not sure my Mama heart can take that.) Older kids who can fix themselves something to eat when they’re hungry. Or go to the bathroom by themselves.
Motherhood is hard. Whether your kids are 5 or 35, it’s hard. That part never changes. (just ask your own Mom)
What changes are the ways in which it’s hard. Moms with young kids have a different hard than Moms with older kids.
We don’t have to worry about our little kids falling in with the wrong group of friends or being exposed to something or someone dangerous online. We don’t have to make sure they don’t fall behind in school during this unprecedented closure of schools nationwide. And we don’t have to deal with teen attitudes and backtalk.
While Moms with older kids are doing all that, we’ll be playing with our tiny bosses.
Trying to come up with new things to do with them when there is literally nowhere to go & nothing new to do. We’ll be trying to help them cope with emotions much bigger than they are. We’ll be helping them go to the bathroom, all day every day. And we’ll be trying to find the time to go to the bathroom ourselves. And then when we do find a minute to pee in solitude because we go to the bathroom with a baby gate up so no one can follow us in there, we’ll be trying to drown out “Mama Mama Mamaaaaaa” for those precious few seconds. We’ll be dealing with tantrums. Often over the most nonsensical things you can imagine.
We’ll be doing our hard while our fellow Mamas are doing theirs.
I’m not wishing any of it away. I’m fully aware our kids only need us like they do when they’re young for a few fleeting years. And that breaks my heart because I already feel the time slipping away faster than I want it to.
And I know most Mamas with older kids out there right now would switch places with us in a second. They’d jump at the chance to play pretend or make a chalk mosaic with their little kids. Or to have playing in the rain with their kids be the big thing they did that day. This time with our young children really is magical.
So, make no mistake: I wouldn’t trade where I am with my kids right now for anything in the world. I love this age and this stage.
I don’t want to trade it. But I do want to say it. Loudly.
IT. IS. HARD.
(Other Mamas think so, too. Promise.)
So check on your Mom friends with young kids. Because the quarantine life is hard for them, too. And no amount of bubbles & finger paint & bike rides can change that.
I’ve been writing a lot during this quarantine (because holy moly do I need an outlet!), so here are some social-distancing/quarantine-related things that I hope help make your isolation a little easier—or at least make you feel like you’re not alone:
Want more on Motherhood? —> Have you ever yelled at your kids? (like really yelled) Do you agree with me that ? Or that the days ARE long & the years ARE short?
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