Parenting in a Pandemic: Reaching Worry Fatigue
The pandemic has turned me into a worrier.
In 2020, the worries were understandable: we didn’t know much about COVID-19, and we didn’t have a vaccine: am I making the right decisions? How do I keep my family healthy? I was pregnant throughout most of the year – and pregnancy during the early days of COVID was especially scary.
In 2021, the worries were frustrating: why aren’t more people getting vaccinated? What do you mean, there’s another new variant?
I’ve worried about how many days to quarantine from a sick family member and what mask – or masks – would give us the best protection. Should we host a family holiday or just do a phone call?
I’ve worried about whether sending my one-year-old and three-year-old to daycare and preschool was the right choice – and then worried about how to handle the COVID quarantines that sent the kids back home again for weeks and the staffing shortages that had one of them home for two months. I’ve worried about sniffles and coughs – and about RSV, hand, foot and mouth and the flu.
I’ve worried that during those times when I’m juggling full-time work-from-home while watching my kids on a quarantine week, that my kids are only getting a stressed-out version of me that is doing the bare minimum.
Also, flurona? No.
I’m so, so tired.
After two years of this, I’m exhausted from the constant barrage of news and the politicization of public health.
Because despite new variants and lukewarm vaccination rates, the advice hasn’t changed: getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a mask in public, washing hands and staying home if sick are still the best ways to keep you and your family healthy through this pandemic.
And I know our household is doing its part to stay healthy. We are vaccinated and boosted and masked in public. We’re doing all the things we can control and will continue to do them. And when COVID vaccines are available for my one-year-old and three-year-old, they will get them.
I know I’m not alone in my exhaustion – and my pandemic experience is the lite version of what too many families and children have been going through for the past two years. Too many homes are facing impossible choices.
Which is why despite wanting to tap out from the pandemic worries, I know there’s things to be worrying about right now.
In prolonging the pandemic, we are prolonging the trauma for children and families whose lives continue to be disrupted. Mental health emergencies among adolescents and young adults have increased during the pandemic.
We’re prolonging the crisis for teachers and schools, who can only teach children if they themselves are healthy.
We’re also prolonging the crisis in our health care system, where hospitals are struggling with the constant needs for care coupled with staffing shortages and burnout.
I hope if you worry about these things, like I do, that we can end this pandemic together.
–Amy Barczy is a brand journalist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, where she writes articles for MIBluesPerspectives.com and AHealthierMichigan.org.
More from MIBluesPerpsectives:
- Pregnant in a Pandemic
- Supporting Kids Through a Continued Crisis
- Tips for When and Where to find a COVID-19 Test
Photo credit: Amy Barczy