Quarantine life—a time when we're all trapped in our homes, together but separate. For many people, this is a completely new and slightly difficult way of life. For new parents, this "new normal" doesn't stray too far from our regular normal.
All our friends without children seem to have gained heaps of free time at home due to this pandemic. As new parents to an 8-month-old baby, our world of life at home hasn't been changed in quite the same way.
If anything, the desire people have to connect—plus their newfound availability to do so—has taken a hindrance on our free time as parents.
Just last weekend, my husband and I had two birthday party Zoom calls to attend. We only made it to one of those, however, because our little one was struggling to go down for the night due to his ninth tooth coming in. That's right, you heard me—his ninth tooth. (Need I say more?)
After escaping his teething woes and getting him to sleep thanks to an hour of trying, I walked into the dining room only to find my husband on a FaceTime call, catching up with an old friend. Dinner had been sitting out on the stove and I was starving, but I decided to participate in the catching up anyway. What a rarity it is that we get to FaceTime with this other couple! I thought.
Twenty minutes in, there was activity on our baby monitor and before we knew it, the baby's cries came through the floorboards and served as our cue to exit the conversation. Long story short, we didn't eat dinner together that night.
By the time we got to cleaning things up around the house—putting toys away, storing leftovers, starting the dishwasher—it was well past our usual bedtime. We normally would be climbing into bed to decompress given our exhausted states, but instead, we had to take turns getting our showers in for the day.
I guess what I'm saying is, if I'm being totally honest, social distancing has become socially exhausting for me.
My husband and I already work from home. We follow the schedule of our little one and that's what dictates our free time. Basically, if he's asleep, we have "free" time. It is very precious time. It's time to work. Time to clean. Time to cook. Time to bond as a couple. Time to check things off our list. Oh!—and time to rest. (How could I forget that one…)
Now we have regularly scheduled Zoom calls with everyone who is suddenly available. Our extended family has a call on Sundays. My old friends that I haven't seen in at least seven years meet every Wednesday night. My husband's college friends try the impromptu calls every few days that he sadly usually has to decline because they're not scheduled.
My husband and I are west coast natives living on the east coast, raising our first kid away from our closest friends and family. FaceTiming has been such a wonderful tool to have at our fingertips, a regular part of our routine that we use as a way to stay dialed in with our loved ones, the people we desperately want our kiddo to have a connection with, even from a distance.
But now, we have way more options of people to talk to over video chat instead of just our family members, and for this introvert—some days it's just feeling like too much. While I'm excited to hear from so many people who mean so much to us, I'm exhausted from the expectation of others who are new to regular video chatting. We're not always available. We won't always be able to answer. Hopping on a call isn't always easy.
Nothing in our lives right now feels easy.
Because getting out of our pajamas is cause for celebration most days (especially the days when we're operating on three hours of sleep) and I'm glad I have the world on my side in these tiny victories. Like new mothers, the world now finally understands—sometimes just being at home is exhausting.