‘Superhero Parent’ Exhaustion

Mother using smart phone and helping daughter with homework at the table in dining room by the window

Are you feeling somewhat exhausted playing the role of ‘superhero parent’ for weeks now? For those of us who had 20th century stay-at-home moms, I don’t think they tried to play that role, although, no doubt some did. On a rainy day like today, I was kitted out in my gear and rubber boots, then tossed outside to amuse myself for the afternoon. “Be back in time for dinner,” she would call as she slammed the door behind me.

There are a million reasons why, in 2020, we would be uncomfortable with that approach even before considering pandemic social distancing and isolation. Talk about a pressure cooker! We feel compelled to invent games, do crafts, find ways to let little ones physically blow off steam so they don’t bop a sibling, monitor schoolwork, help bigger kids do research, Zoom with family so we don’t forget each other and try to maintain this remote work thing. Oh, and there is the pressure to bake gorgeous bread—after standing in line outside of ten grocery stores to find flour. The superhero thing is probably feeling a bit old.

On the other hand, we’re stuck, so we may as well make the most of it. Little ones are thrilled to have you around and available to play. Grumpy teens and tweens, of course, are a lot less thrilled. But, at least, while they are COVID-19 hostages, we know where they are, who they are with, what they are eating (drinking, smoking), and can check in on schoolwork. Frankly, it’s less work than having to send out an APB or a tracking dog, as long as you can pop open an umbrella to weather their emotional storms. On a personal level, I long ago decided that honestly—as a mom, I loved the teen years most. My husband is exactly the opposite: he says that I can take the later shift with our grandkids since teens scare him to death. Perfect!

But, back to family COVID-19 survival. For those of you who are keen and able to take up the superhero parent mantra – good on you! Go for it! But, it’s OK if you need a break. And, it’s good to teach kids that doing nothing is actually something. Boredom can also build brains when we let imagination grab hold—there may be good uses for those old boxes and pots that are hanging around. Leaving space for just thinking or watching clouds out the window is good, too. Combined with a little self-care, like a virtual coffee date with your chum, perhaps you and Grumpy Teen can find an olive branch baking bread together.

Kelly Stone. Photo: Brittany Gawley

A Message from Kelly Stone,

President & CEO, Families Canada

May 4, 2020
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