This pandemic has blessed (or cursed--however you choose to look at it) households around the globe with an abundance of family-time. Or has it?
With three teenagers and one tween forced to "stay at home" with me and my hubby, I've been surprised at how little quality time we spend together. Can any of you parents relate?
The current lack of social interaction is even getting to me--an introvert. Pre-pandemic, I'd relish the quiet time while the kids were at school. As the afternoon progressed, I'd check the clock and wince as the minutes raced toward that dreaded after-school time. When that diesel school bus sound approached my house (yes, I force my teens to ride the bus), I'd groan internally. I mean, I love my kids, but ... The air was about to buzz with activity as backpacks would drop on the dining room table, the fridge would be raided, and friends would come over, adding to the hub bub. Escaping to quieter quarters was not an option as questions would rapid-fire at me, cutting through the air as I raced for a hiding spot. Mom, can I join track this year? Mom, can a friend sleep over tonight? What's for supper? Mom, can you give me twenty bucks? Can you give me a ride later? Needless to say, I cherished my alone time.
The first weeks of the pandemic, my teenagers drove me crazy because they didn't think stay-at-home orders applied to them. They begged to have sleepovers or hang out with friends at the park or host a bonfire in the backyard. Eventually, they accepted the new normal of FaceTime, Zoom, GoogleMeets, and the occasional social-distance walk or bike ride with a friend sufficing for social interaction. School transitioned to distance-learning. Which brings us to the present. Now, it seems, they are always plugged into a device.
These days, there is no afternoon flurry of activity. We are all here, all day, plugged into our own devices or finding our own ways to pass the time. One kid plays his guitar and skateboards, another kid took to painting, another kid bought a gaming PC, and one kid plays way too much Xbox--way too loudly!
More times than I care to admit, I've begged one of my kids to hang out with me. They'd pass by me in the living room and I'd shamelessly say, "Wanna watch a movie?" or "Come sit with me." or "Do your homework down here with me." What has this pandemic done to me? How did I start turning to my angsty teens for company??
I know some of you parents cannot relate. Your toddlers are underfoot all day, everyday, and alone time eludes you. Oh my goodness, I remember those days. It was hard enough without a pandemic. Those days were also oh, so sweet. My only advice: soak in their cuteness and make the most of naptime and bedtime!
My takeaway from this is to maximize this time we have with our families, all trapped under one roof. It won't last forever. So we might as well make the most of it. At our house, we come together for family dinners--whether it be home-cooked or takeout. It makes my heart happy when my six-foot sons get up from the table and thank my husband and me for a good meal. I guess the way into a teenager's heart is through food.
So while I'd love to be the family that goes for bike rides and walks, cooks together, and draws sidewalk chalk creations together, maybe the dinners are all the family-time the kids need.
But I'm still gonna propose we play a board game tonight. It's worth a try.