Parenting Weekend

A bit of a slog

September 20, 2020

Days alone with my 3 children during pandemic times . . . well, I’m sort of over them.

Saying this feels like admitting my failure as a mother, as a woman, maybe even as a human. But I’m going to say it here anyway: most of yesterday just felt like a slog. Waiting for minutes to tick by so that everyone could get one day older in one piece.

Yes, there were a few nice moments (mostly after Josh got home). But predominantly, there was yelling, frustration, and a lot of boredom and loneliness. Pre-pandemic, I filled Josh’s call weekends with outings and play dates, which both occupied the kids AND provided much-needed socialization for me. Neither are really possible now, for obvious reasons.

Months ago, my calendar felt overfull and family gatherings often seemed like too much. But now life just feels so empty. If I were childless, I’d probably be more successful at distracting/sublimating with other things (probably taking up things like marathon training, reading 100 books, etc).

But I can’t effectively sublimate because I’m trapped and they need me and by the way — I do love them and on a deeper level am just so happy they exist and are mine. Yet sometimes it feels like I am the only one who finds this so hard. I also struggle getting them to listen to me (hence the yelling/frustration) and that just wears on me. It brings on some toxic combination of failure, guilt, and shame, and I desperately would like to not feel that way.

I think it’s time to find some kind of social bubble. Maybe I can find someone to meet us out at the Gardens today. (But I doubt it b/c honestly my social network isn’t very robust up here yet. Yes, we’ve lived here almost 2 years but the last 6 months were COVID. Not ideal for expanding one’s friend network.)

PS: I am not sharing all of this to say “woe is me, my life is hard.” I feel gratitude about many things — breathable outdoor air, even. But I still wanted to share that I personally find these days difficult because — well, I do.


❏ Workout (while kids asleep)

❏ Meal plan / list / groceries

❏ Probably Flamingo Gardens because at least there is space to run around there

❏ Home for lunch

❏ During nap, which hopefully G won’t resist: some BLP work

❏ Make dinner (probably while G watches a show)

❏ Clean up / make lunches / prep for week

❏ Baths / bed / etc

Will try to look for bright spots.

nice moment


  • Reply Amy J September 20, 2020 at 6:40 am

    You are not alone in feeling this way, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a human or a mother. What we’re being asked to do is pretty unprecedented in human history. We aren’t wired to be solitary, the burdens (and joys) of parenthood have always been shared, and of course we’re suffering from the isolation and the daily grind. I sometimes hide in my closet and read for ten minutes because it’s the only time that I can escape the constant parenting.

  • Reply Sarah September 20, 2020 at 6:56 am

    Sigh. You are most definitely NOT the only one who feels this way. I do not subscribe to the narrative that women and mothers can’t ever be frustrated/grumpy/yell at their kids/seek time to themselves and if they do, they’re failing as a mother/woman/partner. That’s the patriarchy, my friend. I’m sure even RBG had days like this. Sending a big hug, and a nod of solidarity.
    Btw, if you haven’t read “Burnout” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, put it on your list. So empowering and relevant to all of this.

  • Reply Sarah Price September 20, 2020 at 6:58 am

    Sarah: My 3 children are older now and I still find my husband’s call weekends hard. When they were the ages of your children and I was living in a relatively new place without a strong social network, I found them to be extremely hard. I want to acknowledge how much harder it is during a pandemic, especially for parents like you who have young kids. Thank you for being vulnerable and for providing me with so much enrichment, learning and connection over the last 6 months. I love your podcasts (really enjoying BSP), your blog and your newsletter.

  • Reply Sarah Price September 20, 2020 at 7:01 am

    Correction: BLP!

  • Reply Sara September 20, 2020 at 7:03 am

    I’m sorry life is a bit of a slog these days. I have a feeling you’re not alone and feel very much that way myself. We just started a “pod” arrangement for my boys with another family that has two boys the same ages. They are together during the week and we get together on the weekends for play dates. We hired a former preschool teacher to help the younger ones with pre-k learning/supervision and make sure the first graders are doing ok in their virtual learning. It really has been wonderful for everyone overall. I wonder if there is a family at your Montessori school you would trust? Or, we have been getting together with a couple other people/families, but wear masks and hang out outside.

    I’m definitely second guessing my choices now because my 6 year old is sick. He had a slight fever yesterday and vomiting today. It seems like everything (and nothing!) is a symptom of Covid-19 so I can’t help but worry 🤦🏼‍♀️

  • Reply Ashley September 20, 2020 at 7:23 am

    You are not alone in these thoughts! I have a 2 year old and 8 month old and find myself with the same feelings often (and that’s with my husband to help). We have a couple families who are in our “bubble” and we go to outdoor venues together – the local conservatory, a bier garden, playgrounds (I’m sorry this is not an option for you!). I know we would have a really hard time if we didn’t have a few people we could see comfortably.

  • Reply Cecilia September 20, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Oh Sarah I feel you!!
    My husband and I usually are both available on weekends (he’s occasionally “on call” but is super rare when they actually call him)…
    But thiiiis weekend… man… he had to spend most of Saturday (from like 6am to 4pm) at work and then today around 2pm there was an emergency and he had to go back, until after 5pm 😬 So believe me when I say you are not alone in this!!

    • Reply Sophie September 20, 2020 at 4:49 pm

      As you can see you’re not alone! What Fresh Hell podcast have some really good episodes about how hard covid is which are very validating (I discovered them through BOBW- thanks for that). For example the episode published July 15 called Hitting the Wall, worth listening to if you haven’t already.

      • Reply Sophie September 20, 2020 at 4:50 pm

        Sorry Cecilia not sure why it replied to you rather than the main post!

  • Reply Gillian September 20, 2020 at 7:33 am

    We have been doing outdoor playdates for a while in here in NY where we peaked early and cases are low. We have had some really creative ones like an outdoor movie and pizza night (we moved a smart TV outside and streamed a moved while the kids lounged in the grass). We met at a park with bikes (hard to get too close when you are riding a bike). We have met at parks and public pools and joined friends at the beach. We have kept our circle down to each of our kids closest friends and then 1-2 of our closest adult friends. Now my kids are back in school in person and many of our outdoor activities have resumed so life is starting to feel more normal, but there were definitely times when summer was a slog.

  • Reply Jessica September 20, 2020 at 7:55 am

    Sarah, I’m always so impressed with how vulnerable you’re willing to be. You’re helping everyone reading feel less alone in this by showing that you can feel pretty alone in it.

    I so relate to you on having moved recently. It takes time to build up a social network even in normal times. I moved across the country 9 months before the pandemic, and it’s just so tough to figure out pandemic socializing when you don’t have strong ties yet. I made some friends before covid, but not good enough friends that I would be the one in their bubble. In some cases not good enough friends to even see them outside of cancelled sports/activities. It sucks a lot and I don’t even have much advice, I just feel you. In many ways, trying to reach out to get the socialization I needed, but having slow/limited responses, made me feel even more lonely than if I hadn’t tried.

    If you do have close friends from before you moved, maybe some family is close enough to start seeing them each weekend? Finding a group that also wants this seems to be key. I actually ended up moving again recently, and my boyfriend has a couple good friends here who are making the effort to see us every weekend. I really hope we can bubble with them as winter comes, it will make all the difference. I am fully in support of people figuring out which small risks they can take that will make this sustainable for the long haul.

    Good luck and thank you for everything you do.

  • Reply Amy M September 20, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your challenges. You are not alone and hearing your experiences makes many of us feel that we have a comrade-in-arms during this time. Look forward to your posts. Thank you!

  • Reply Meg September 20, 2020 at 8:35 am

    I also have to say you’re not alone in feeling this way! This is really, really hard. I tell myself every day that this is the hardest time in my life, and (hopefully) will be the hardest period we have in our lives. I can’t imagine solo parenting full days. It would be mentally, physically exhausting – all of it.

  • Reply Julia September 20, 2020 at 10:07 am

    It seems especially hard bc this virus is going to be around forever (?) and the vaccine might not be that effective, so I am just unclear what to make of all of this. I believe we will be wearing masks for a very long time and that is okay with me, but I very much want to pair that with more socializing. It’s hard to know when we might be able to do this. We feel fortunate to have close neighbors with kids our same ages that we have continued to play with outside for this entire pandemic. We live in OH this outdoor play won’t continue through the winter…

  • Reply Kersti September 20, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Is there anything you can do to encourage them to play amongst themselves so you can read or do something else? Not sure if they are old enough to do that for very long…

    • Reply revanche @ a gai shan life September 20, 2020 at 11:14 am

      I sure do wish we didn’t still make mothers feel like being a human with negative emotions about the hard parts of parenting was some kind of failure on our parts. It most certainly is not! You’ve lost most or all of your usual tools for making it work well, and lack of community makes it even harder. I can’t imagine NOT being sick and tired of that set up. We alternate mornings and afternoons with our one and we both have days when it’s beyond frustrating.

      We’ve slowly started having them do a zoom call/playdate with other kids.

      We might be able to add in an occasional masked and distanced bike ride with a friend or two if we ever stop burning down here in CA but it’s taken us this whole six months to slowly find acceptable and reasonably safe ideas to try and people who might be ok doing them. I hope you might be able to find something similar.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 20, 2020 at 11:41 am

      I definitely don’t stand over them or play cruise director all day, but it’s hard to do something like read because typically a fight has to be broken up or someone needs something like . . . often. It’s true sometimes the stars align and they play nicely and it’s AMAZING. Just wish it was more frequent!

      I find that because you never know when you will be interrupted it’s hard to do things that are not totally shallow like . . . instagram. But then that sort of adds to the ickiness. I don’t know . . .maybe I need to find some other more relaxing BUT highly interruptible activities 🙂

      • Reply Kersti September 20, 2020 at 2:42 pm

        On a similar note…My job is pretty intense and I found myself tired all the time a few years ago. My therapist suggested I re-examine my time off…no more too vigorous workouts, too challenging books, difficult/time consuming hobbies. I realized that now is the time to enjoy easy and relaxing things like yoga, brain candy books, magazines, a cup of tea, baking something easy…it’s rather fun creating a list of low energy but satisfying activities. In the future when I have more time and energy I’ll get back into the more challenging things! I like your similar idea of creating a list of interruptible activities. Then you are accomplishing something but it’s a realistic something!!

  • Reply Sarah September 20, 2020 at 11:11 am

    This really resonated: “Waiting for minutes to tick by so that everyone could get one day older in one piece.”

    I have a daughter six months older than G and I totally hear you. You are definitely not alone!

  • Reply Irene September 20, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    You are not alone. We have done a few outdoor masked play dates but we aren’t anyone’s best anything enough to bubble together. It’s slightly embarrassing and hard.

    • Reply Ashley September 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      Irene, thank you for saying this. We moved relatively recently and the resulting limited friend group, plus me working and therefore not able to arrange regular middle-of-the-week play dates with the SAHMs I am friends with, plus a myriad of other factors – well, it feels awful because my 4yo is very social and so misses having friends. And it also embarrasses me. Like, I will find myself feeling legitimately angry and rejected by my lovely neighbors because they weren’t willing to bubble with us when duh our kids are wayyyyyy younger than theirs, for example.

      In those first few weeks the pandemic felt uniting. Now I feel flashes of anger at basically everyone. Basically, social distancing feels like social rejection. My grey matter knows it’s not (most of the time), but my lizard brain can’t tell the difference.

      • Reply Irene September 20, 2020 at 9:22 pm

        I am sending you a virtual hug, Ashley! I feel a lot of guilt that I have not been able to provide a pandemic bestie for my 5 year old. It’s strange how that somehow feels like my responsibility when I definitely would NOT feel that way if school was normal! It sucks so much. Good luck to your family.

  • Reply Nina September 20, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    Sorry your feeling so down. It’s ok to find it hard, because it is hard. Hope your day goes ok.

  • Reply Genevieve September 20, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    I can very much relate with this, Sarah. I often have the conflicted feeling of loving them so much but still feeling like this still feels so hard, even as our kids are getting older (7.5 & 10) And in some ways I feel worse because shouldn’t I be better at this by now?

    I very much think that feeling isolated makes it so much harder and I find that the times I notice it the most are when everyone else is having family time (we have a similar schedule to your family where I do spend full days alone on weekends and holiday weeks). I always appreciate your honesty about life and parenting on this space and also on your BOBW podcast. Everyone has days like this and you are not alone!

  • Reply Amy September 20, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Being the solo parent in charge for long stretches does start to wear. I feel you on that.

    One thing I was wondering that might help you — you said you get frustrated because you’re trying to get them to listen and they don’t listen well. I would honestly focus hard on that for right now and make it so that listening to you the first time is not optional. Enforce consequences if needed but honestly, it’s easier to be around kids who are well-behaved and good listeners, when everything doesn’t turn into an argument. You’re the mom, you’re the one in charge, don’t stand around waiting for your kids to obey whenever they happen to get around to it while letting your anger and resentment build and simmer. Enforce listening the first time.

    I also don’t expect to be able to spend long stretches of “me time” when I’m alone with my kids, reading or knitting or whatever. I work on other creative projects like cooking and gardening that don’t require as much concentration. I also don’t feel the need to jump up and tend to my kids’ needs the moment they arrive (not saying that’s what you’re doing, just what I do). It’s been really important for me to reframe how I’m spending my time, and to remember that while I might enjoy curling up with a good book right now or working on that sweater, I’m not entitled to that time and it’s also not my task in this moment. (Again not suggesting any of your struggle comes from a sense of entitlement! Just sharing what’s worked for me.) The long stretches of solo parenting can be so tough but it can also be possible to enjoy it. Good luck. ❤️

  • Reply Florence September 20, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    “Waiting for minutes to tick by so that everyone could get one day older in one piece.”

    This!! I have a baby and a toddler and this is what my days feel like. I count down the days at home. And when I go back to work I’m sure I’ll be counting down then too. With covid, there’s nothing to look forward to except counting down more days. Yet some day the kids will be grown up and I’ll miss having little ones.

  • Reply Marina September 20, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Echoing everyone else that you’re not alone and it’s totally normal to feel this way. Being the sole adult in a house full of young children is just hard! I know myself and I know I can’t solo parent for long stretches of time and had a difficult time of it during Covid lockdown, even though I was switching off with my husband. Of course you love your children, I wish you didn’t have to feel guilty about this, but yes, patriarchy, idea that women/moms have to serve others, etc. etc. You deserve to have time to yourself too, so I too suggest getting a family to partner up with or a regular sitter (that you trust) to come for a few hours. Is there a risk? Sure, but your mental health is important too. Or just have them watch TV most of the day. Who cares? If anyone judges you, you tell them they’re welcome to come babysit all day.

  • Reply Lisa September 20, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    It’s hard with young kids even without a pandemic. It was life-changing when our youngest could play in the front yard and we could watch from the window, and then just check on her periodically.

  • Reply Jenn September 20, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    This is me too, and I only have the one baby! For me it truly depends on whether my kiddo naps properly and is in a good mood…otherwise I am 100% counting the minutes until daddy can take him! I love him so much but I pictured his infant days so differently! (As you said – visiting family and friends, even just popping him in the stroller and going around the mall with him…) And there are times when I think, man, if I were childless, I’d be baking up a storm, binging the heck out of Netflix shows, reading whole books on a weekend day, etc, etc…I agree with you that it could always be so so much worse but feelings are feelings and there are days when I spiral for sure! I am a liiiittle nervous about what it’s going to be like once we’re stuck indoors in the snowy winter because we’ve at least been able to socially distance visit with people outside six feet apart during the summer…but taking it one day at a time!

  • Reply Jessica September 20, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    We moved here last August (so 13 months ago) and I feel like I still don’t have a friend group and it is so hard. Now that people are getting together a little, we aren’t on anyone’s “list” because we are new and the lists are short (to keep the bubble). I am so thankful that both of my older kids (age 12 and 13) have friends in their “bubble.” My two youngers and I don’t and it has been rough. This is our 5th move since our oldest was born and it has been so much harder finding friends here.

    Also, my kids are mostly older than yours (younger two are 7 and 9) and I am over Covid parenting. I solo parented this weekend for the first time in awhile and it was hard.

  • Reply Mommy Attorney September 21, 2020 at 9:44 am

    You are not alone. I was a SAHM when my kids were basically exactly your kids’ ages. There were so many days in which I was just hanging on by my fingernails. There are a few tips and tricks I learned, and you can absolutely feel free to ignore them if any of this is too ass-vicey. Re: yelling. I would gather the older kids and say in my quietest voice that I was really tired of them not listening to me, and that I was afraid I was going to yell. We talked about how we all felt when I yelled (bad). I asked them to please help me not yell by listening. We agreed to work on it together. Whenever we started to get to that point, I would switch to my quiet voice. If I did end up yelling, we’d have a debrief – I’d apologize, we’d discuss what happened. Your older kids are old enough to understand. Next, I never tried to have any significant tasks to complete. Like the most significant task was load the dishwasher or put up a load of laundry. If anything beyond that happened, then great. Next, I tried to have a list of possible activities in my mind to stave off fights from boredom. If they were playing great together, I did nothing. If they were starting to squabble, I’d mix it up. Who wants to blow bubbles? Make chalk drawings? Swing outside (we have a playset)? Go for a walk? Have a dance party? Color? Build legos? Read a book? Play school? Play hair salon? Bake? Have a snack? Take a bath? Tickle monster? Rake leaves? Build a fort? We also had quiet time. After lunch for at least an hour, everyone had to play quietly in their room. It gave me an hour to decompress or do some deep work or nap or whatever. I also took a nap almost every day during one episode of Dora. I swear I’m like Pavlov’s dog now – the opening song puts me out immediately and the closing song wakes me up. I would lie on the couch with the kids leaning against me and one arm around them. I could feel if someone got up, but that rarely happened. On hard days, it would be 2 episodes of Dora. Dealing with the emotional/physical/social needs of three little people is truly exhausting. I needed that nap to be able to function.

    • Reply A. September 21, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      Love it!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 21, 2020 at 11:57 am

    You are definitely not alone as all these comments show! Hopefully you can get to know some parents at G and C’s school that have similar-aged kids that you could have play dates with on the weekend? We are lucky that our best friend’s kids go to the same daycare, so we’ve hung out with them this summer and I’m starting to get to know other parents now that our son is 2.5 years old and talks about kids from his class. It doesn’t help that playgrounds aren’t open for you either as that is a major lifesaver. I was out with my son for 2 hours yesterday between a long stroller walk to SBUX and a stop at the park. Getting out of the house is key but you have limited options for that with parks being closed. I hope you can figure something out! 1 day alone with my son is hard so I can’t imagine a whole weekend and no parks to go to! Might be worth the drive to a neighboring county that has open parks??

    Hang in there! I think the endlessness of this is not helping either. I’m dreading winter when we will be cooped up again. 🙁

  • Reply Erica Sparky September 21, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I’m sorry but can totally relate. These days are LONG. Dan and I both feel like we need a break.

    We’ve been doing masked outdoor play dates with two friends that are really important to G (8) and I’m BFF’s with one of those parents, so it’s been great. In NC I think we can continue these well into the fall, probably also true in south FL! Also, when school started we created a bigger bubble with two other families who also have third graders. That has been great for all of us because it just makes life easier and more fun. I’m the only person in the group who works outside of the house and one family has a kid going to daycare. Other than that, it’s our new large extended family and we’re all dedicated to keeping each other safe!

  • Reply omdg September 21, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    LMK if you ever want to have a zoom cocktail hour some evening when I’m not trapped in the OR. You’re definitely not alone!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 22, 2020 at 6:05 am

      I would totally be up for that!!!

  • Reply Jeasie September 21, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    You are definitely not the only one! I am a teacher who has been home since March, until returning to the classroom about a month ago. I count the minutes many days. I never wanted to be a stay at home mom, ever. And it was forced upon me for a l-o-n-g time. I also have some guilt over my daughter being an IVF baby- shouldn’t I be oh so thankful for her all the time?! I love your description of the deep love you feel for your children- and it’s there even when we are counting the minutes.

  • Reply Sarah R September 23, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you for saying this, it is just how I feel.

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