COVID19 life Weekend

Deep & Shallow

January 29, 2022

Deep Thoughts About:

Why has life felt so stressful lately? Is this just permanent and a part of the phase of life I am in? Are some of the pressures very much self-inflicted (probably)? Are there choices I could make differently about my job that would lessen the stress (but might come at a cost, say less flexibility or less $)? Are there other extracurriculars adding to the stress? How much is COVID stress really contributing anymore? Will life feel easier once this surge is over? What exactly IS stressing me out?

In Other News:

I thought this article was very interesting: New questions about whether kids should wear masks in school

I’ve noticed that several blogs have a ton of discussion about fancy masks (KN95, N95, KF94, etc) for kids. I have been sending 2/3 kids to school in regular old cloth masks. It would be 3/3, but Annabel prefers the feel of kid-sized surgical masks (these – and they fit me pretty well, too!). G’s frequently slides off of her nose. I haven’t really felt concerned about it, and if the rules were changed for our school I would probably send them mask-free, especially once this surge ends (hopefully soon).

This is not because I am a bad uncaring parent or because I am not smart (well, you can think that if you want but I did get 2 on today’s wordle, so I must have some reasoning abilities). This is because after trying on several brands, I personally find essentially all KN95/N95-style masks to be extremely uncomfortable and do not feel the protective benefit is worth inflicting that on my kids. This is because I feel the risk of severe illness from COVID for my children is acceptably low, and feel unconvinced that this would have much if any community impact. I recognize that among certain circles this sentiment is still . . . unpopular.

Oh well.

Shallow Thoughts About:

Today’s agenda!

Well, not really shallow, but certainly not as deep.

C’s track meet was cancelled due to cold and wind (it is currently 50F, but it is windy . . .)

Tentative to do list:

  • 30 minutes Peloton “strength for runners” workout (these are usually not too terribly painful)
  • Grocery shop – maybe in person with a kid (I haven’t done this in a while – not due to COVID just due to the extremely seductive convenience of Whole Foods delivery)
  • Go outside + do something – might take kids to the local track to do some pretend races etc
  • Help Josh book snowboard trip with C
  • Make some progress towards booking April DC trip!! (pick hotel or VRBO/Airbnb)
  • Plan next date night b/c we have nothing on the calendar and I need something

Also shallow but good: we may have picked out our floor! Wood for front of the house, luxury vinyl in the kitchen and kids’ art room. Hopefully can get things going quickly. I just want to move in already . . .



  • Reply Janna January 29, 2022 at 11:12 am

    Your questions are very similar to what I have been working though with my therapist.

    I’m a first grade teacher and would LOVE to say good-bye to masks for my 6-7 year old students. I think it has hindered learning of phonics since it relies so much on mouth placement. I do have pictures of mouth placement for each of the 44 phonemes but it’s not the same. But, kids never complain. It’s all these kids have known. I can’t wait for the day we can throw them high in the air and graduate from having to wear them in class.

  • Reply Abby January 29, 2022 at 11:37 am

    I agree with you 100 percent on the masks!

  • Reply Hilary January 29, 2022 at 11:46 am

    My opinion on masks has been changing, too. The cost/benefit calculation is not what it used to be and IMO it’s time to stop making our kids shoulder the burden of this pandemic (endemic) that they did nothing to cause. This is becoming a large chunk of their childhoods and they deserve better!

  • Reply Noemi January 29, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Yes to the questions and yes to the masks! Thank you for that link because I’m currently collecting links on the topic. I plan to write about my thoughts on it on my blog, and I’m sure there will be some strong, hard push back but I honestly don’t care because we need to start having these conversations. I have so much to write about this but I’ll wait until I can post it properly.

    I really don’t know what we all feel so overwhelmed, but it does help to know others also feel this way. There really must be some cumulative pandemic exhaustion affecting us, which I guess makes sense. It just sucks to feel, since it’s an external situation making us feel this way, there is little we can do alleviate the stress. It’s hard.

  • Reply Hilary January 29, 2022 at 11:54 am

    Also, a thought on your overwhelm of late. I don’t think I have heard you mention the fact that you are now doing TWO podcasts in addition to everything else! I think you might be discounting the amount of time and energy those take, even if they’re fun. A lot of people would say two weekly podcasts are a full time job in themselves! I’m not suggesting you stop them whatsoever, but I think it’s important to think how they work into the balance of the rest of your life.

  • Reply TAS January 29, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    Sarah my opinion based on reading your thoughts for so long is that the administrative parts of your job (program director) don’t match your medical duties. What I mean is that patient appointments and even call have a beginning and an end. Jobs that are more administrative never end. There are always more projects, emails, people (some of whom can be extra needy or over communicate or not listen or read the information the first time.) This part of your work is similar to my job. I’m having to create defined boundaries (time, place) and learn to let some things slide because it doesn’t end. And it’s still hard a d overwhelming. Honestly, if I was in your shoes and I had a choice I would drop the admin duties during this season of life, and enjoy the defined 8-5 or whatever the hours / appointments schedule you follow. Advice from an internet stranger is not worth much, but I wanted to share in case it gives you a perspective to consider.

    • Reply Janelle January 29, 2022 at 1:14 pm

      Completely agree, as much as a stranger can! Also Sarah you went back to working 1.0 instead of .9 as well. Two podcasts, three kids, and a very full time job (with call) seems like a lot to me.

  • Reply Mrs. Candid January 29, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Sarah, anyone following your blog knows that you have been finding life quite stressful for a while now, and you cannot seem to pinpoint a particular reason for it. Everything seems like a reason and sometimes nothing feels like a reason. I get it.
    I am just thinking aloud here, I maybe right or wrong … I feel that you have been continously adding more and more on your plate, without removing any existing responsibilities. Like Hilary mentioned above, BLP is an example, and please do continue both BLP and BOBW, I love them both. Also, our responsibilities increase as more kids activities grow with their age. Today I was listening to your BLP episode with Laura Tremaine, where she mentioned about taking a break from her podcast to concentrate on family management and her second book. I enjoy her podcast too, and I was a little sad about her decision, but I can understand why she took it. Something has to take a backseat once in a while so that we don’t burnout.
    Can you cut back on anything, I don’t know … or instead of cutting out anything completely, can you dial down a little bit on all the activities and give yourself more breathing space. For example, why not just read 40 books this year instead of 50. Why not workout for 20 minutes instead of 30 … just some random examples.
    Wish you all the best, always.

    • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 12:24 pm

      I think about this kind of thing too — I tend to want to do EVERYTHING (and perfectly, and without it looking like I’m even trying) and one thing I tell myself is that there’s only so many hours in the day. I can’t do everything. Neither can you. 😉

    • Reply Ali January 29, 2022 at 9:17 pm

      100% agree with this. Sarah, I admire how much you have going on but have no idea how you do it. You have a LOT on your plate, including several time intensive hobbies. My kids are similar ages to yours and I often say I am in survival mode these days…and that is without several major hobbies (I exercise and read and that is it!)

  • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you for saying that about masks. I live in Virginia, notorious for recently lifting its mask mandate in schools, and some parents here are flipping out while others are quietly filling out their mask exemption forms. My kids are unvaccinated so I’m waiting for the surge to be over and then GOODBYE MASKS, hopefully forever. The other thing I’m looking forward to is an end to all the convoluted quarantine / exposure rules.

  • Reply Nadine January 29, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    Sorry about how you are feeling. On the mask front, it’s such a drag being uncomfortable, for kids or adults. I recently discovered Masklab, who make Korean style KF94/FFP2 masks that are so unbelievably comfortable that it’s life changing. They also make kids surgical masks in fun designs.

  • Reply Keren January 29, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    I think CVOID is definitely still adding stress to our lives ,would you be stressed over URI in the before days if you had child care?
    Every stressful medical situation is becoming even more stressful and complicated because of CVOID fears.
    In addition to all that you’ve in the middle of moving house which is known as stressful .
    Stress is like a snowball, when we’re already stressed every little thing adds up to it.

  • Reply Virginia January 29, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    We all like the KN95s by VIDA. Fits our 3 year old well with a couple knots in the ear strings. Comfortable for us.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns January 29, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Our daycare has never had kids wear masks which I have been in favor of, mostly because I know our older child would take his off all the time and touch his face more as a result. I was so glad when their teachers could stop wearing masks as I don’t know how the baby could understand his teachers without facial expressions and such. It seems like now that all school aged kids are vaccine eligible, masks could be phased out? I wouldn’t want to be the one making that decision though. Eeks. I feel so bad for school administrators and teachers.

    Our daycare recently changed their policy based on a DHS recommendation in Mn. They no longer require our kids to quarantine if they are a close contact. You only need to keep kids home if they have symptoms and then you need to test them. It’s been a huge stress relief for us and I say this as an immune compromised person who has been extra careful during the pandemic. Our boys have had exposures this month but both have been healthy. And we have done at home tests on day 5 post exposure just to make sure they aren’t positive and both have been negative. But this seems like a good way to handle things now that vaccines are protecting the most vulnerable populations.

    It does seem like the GME role is maybe not the right role for this stage of life. I have had to recognize that now is not the time for me to really try to climb the ladder at work or take more on. And that is because I am more challenged in my home life than I was during my ladder climbing days. It probably doesn’t help that Josh has an intense job with long hours and less flexibility. Even with layered child care, things fall on you when something comes up. I am that person in my marriage, too, because my husband works at a small company, but he works very reasonable hours and has flexibility to help out more than Josh can given the nature of his job.

    At a minimum, maybe take a 2nd look at all the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? You are such a go getter but you might be underestimating how much else you have going on so may need less goals? That is something I have struggled with as I am also an upholder but have really taken the last several years off from goals. I felt better about this when hearing that Sarah Powers, who has a personality similar to us, took years off from goals!!

    Thinking of you and hoping something can shift soon!

  • Reply Erica January 29, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    I am so glad that people are starting to talk about unmasking our kids.

    My older child, age 4.5, wears a mask without too much complaint, but (a) it’s always in his mouth so it’s not doing any good, and (b) he seems to be developing a speech impediment, which I think is partly attributable to not being able to see his teachers and friends talk. As for my younger child, I am dreading the day this spring when I have to start masking her – and I am absolutely terrified that her social issues and terror of other people, presumably due to not seeing any other people for her first year and only intermittently and in masks since then, will turn out to be permanent.

    • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 2:32 pm

      I have a 10 month old. If we persist with masking our kids by the time he’s 2, I am going to practice civil disobedience.

      • Reply Chantal January 29, 2022 at 8:03 pm

        I love this 😃

      • Reply Kathy January 30, 2022 at 6:32 pm

        Another thumbs up for this comment. That being said, I already practice civil disobedience. I don’t wear a mask anywhere in my “indoor mask mandate” state except at work (HS teacher). I’m done allowing the neuroses of others dictate my life. If I am sick I stay home. If everyone else wants to wear a mask, I don’t care. That’s their right.

        • Reply Amy January 31, 2022 at 12:17 pm

          👍🏻 Totally hear that. I think people have become conditioned to fear Covid over any and everything else, and that the most important thing we do is protect ourselves from it. Safety — which is always an illusion anyway — is now seen as sacred.

  • Reply Sophie January 29, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    On the Deep Life Stress topic- Some great comments here. I’ll just echo that from an outsiders perspective it seems clear you just have too much on your plate too handle comfortably right now. Some is temporary (the house renovations and move, kids URI), some is not (FT work in a big job, parenting three kids, a blog and two podcasts, fitness and food goals etc), and of course there is the ever present pandemic which does add a level of chronic stress I think we all feel.

    A few months ago I was feeling like you, and had to rethink my commitments (working FT during pandemic with two very young kids and various goals and hobbies). I chose to let go of a favourite but time consuming hobby- writing a novel. It was a bit sad but definitely the right decision. I could spend the time it freed up doing relaxing things like reading, watching fun TV, or sleeping! I will pick up writing again in another year or two, when the time is right. I love everything you do blog & pod wise but I do wonder if taking a break from one, or maybe a few of your 2022 goals, might be the right move for this season of life. I hope you work out what you need to do to make life a bit easier again!

  • Reply Char B January 29, 2022 at 2:59 pm

    Just wanted to make a comment on the masking – I’m in the UK and we’ve not had under 11 years olds wear masks at all at school. Secondary school kids (11+) have had to wear masks at certain time points (this got dropped last week again). I think from my cultural perspective it’s quite shocking that young kids learning phonics are wearing masks and their teachers! I can’t quite get my head around that when you weigh up the risks to children vs the damage that will do.

    • Reply Chantal January 29, 2022 at 8:05 pm

      I’m in Australia and kids under 12 are not required to wear masks at all anywhere! It’s fantastic!

      • Reply Char B January 30, 2022 at 2:39 pm

        Yes sorry meant everywhere (including school) here too

  • Reply Grateful Kae January 29, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    My family in Ireland also has said the kids there have never worn masks in school, despite the country being generally quite strict on other COVID policies overall.

    I have a 5 year old nephew here in the U.S. who is on the autism spectrum. He WILL NOT keep a mask on, under any circumstance. So, he can’t go to school. He hasn’t been able to go to in person preschool or now regular school ever yet (now 5 1/2) due to his age/timing with the pandemic- and he so desperately needs to be in school!! He has extremely delayed speech and many other social difficulties- and he is stuck at home because the schools can’t make an exception and allow him in if he won’t keep a mask on. This feels almost criminal to me and it angers me to think what long term effects it’s having on him.. he already has special needs and this is a crucial time in his therapies and development. Ugh. I am also glad to hear people talking about this important issue.

    • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 3:30 pm

      That is absolutely criminal.

    • Reply claire January 29, 2022 at 6:20 pm

      I am just so sorry. It is absolutely wrong for your nephew to be denied entrance to school because he can’t keep a mask on.

    • Reply Alyce January 29, 2022 at 8:38 pm

      My kid also won’t wear a mask due to intellectual disabilities, but has been able to access everything she should have been. I’m surprised your nephew wasn’t given an accommodation under an IEP to go maskless. I would actually advise that his parents reach out to a lawyer to get an assessment on whether your nephew’s rights have been violated.

      • Reply Grateful Kae January 29, 2022 at 8:55 pm

        That is very interesting to know! I haven’t been personally involved of course talking to her son’s school, but she said they told her that if there were other kids that also wouldn’t keep masks on, they could have maybe been granted permission to have a separate little “unmasked” cohort, but I guess in his class there aren’t any other kids who won’t keep the mask on and they can’t allow him in with other kids if he isn’t wearing a mask. We also live in a county that has an indoor mask requirement for everyone, everywhere (we are the only county that has a mask mandate in our entire state…), so I’m not sure if that piece plays a role. (It’s not just the school’s policy- allowing him to go maskless would be “breaking” our county’s current health order.) She said they have been having him come in just briefly once a week or so to pick up new supplies.. to “stay connected” 🙄… and to see if he’ll keep the mask on (for 5 minutes?) but that’s it. Then they go home and all his schooling is virtual- but it’s pretty minimal interaction even virtually since he’s the only kid doing virtual anymore. Also, since he hasn’t really been IN school ever yet, I’m not sure how much has even been done yet with interventions, IEPs etc. It sounds like a total mess. I’m not sure my SIL fully knows how to advocate for him either, honestly… She seems extremely frustrated but also kind of resigned to just having to accept their ruling on this and wait until the mask mandates are lifted here. Meanwhile, time keeps passing and the mandates here keep getting extended each month. I feel like I would push harder or explore other options in her case but it’s hard for me to say, since I’m not exactly in her shoes, you know?

    • Reply Mary January 30, 2022 at 5:03 am

      Just to clarify, masks have been mandatory in secondary schools in Ireland for a long time now and children about a certain age in primary school also wear them (8 and up possibly?).

  • Reply Rachael January 29, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    At the beginning of Covid I had a 3 1/2-year-old and an eight-month-old- we were extremely pro mask then and my three-year-old never ever complained. Fast-forward these past two years and my views have changed. Obviously vaccines have a enormous part in this but masks are not sustainable for the long term and at two years in I think schools need to be just totally rethinking this. The comment above on the 5 1/2-year-old not being able to go to school because he won’t wear a mask seems horribly sad to me!!! My five-year-old wears one on the bus (as required) and then he is allowed to remove it at school. While my youngest will be three in June and probably should wear one some places I don’t even try with him. All that to say -from someone who had a completely different view two years ago, I am all in support of masking going away. I typically only hear from those who want masks indefinitely or those who never would wear masks in the first place so I’m happy to see some of the similar views on here.

    • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 4:07 pm

      I was pro-mask at the beginning too and my kids (now 7 and 9) never complained. They still don’t! But like you my thinking on this has changed; I don’t want my kids growing up in a world where everyone covers their faces for fear of germs. At this point the cure is worse than the disease. And I agree, the other comments here are so encouraging!

    • Reply Erica January 29, 2022 at 8:40 pm

      It’s so frustrating how most of the dialogue has collapsed to “masks always for everyone” vs “no masks” when neither is likely the best course of action. Masks will probably be part of our lives forever, but somehow the people who need to unmask the most – and will suffer least from it – are the ones most likely to be wearing them full-time. It seems like society is taking advantage of their lack of ability to vote ( / write editorials / speak in complete sentence) to burden them with all our Covid anxiety, while adults hang out unmasked in restaurants.

      • Reply Amy January 30, 2022 at 3:00 pm


  • Reply Char B January 29, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    We recently had masks come back in indoor spaces which was dropped again from last week but even then this time round toddler groups were exempt which I totally agree with as it’s seen as important that young children see their parents faces when interacting and playing. I’ve been all for masks in shops etc but anything to do with children’s development it just doesn’t make sense when you weigh everything up.

  • Reply Amanda January 29, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    I think the combo of the pandemic and all you have going on is too much for one person. If you enjoy the GME stuff and want to continue with that for a career, I would drop a podcast or two. I love both your podcasts, but they are very time consuming hobbies and I don’t think your career goal is “influencer” but I could be wrong. I love my job and my husband & kid and friends and the Boards I’m on and this year I thought I’d start a Youtube channel, but that was just way too much. Maybe someday. Maybe that’s probably also why all the planner Youtubers I follow work for themselves and/or don’t have kids. You can have everything, but not all at once.

    • Reply Chantal January 29, 2022 at 8:20 pm

      Love everyone’s comments and agree you are doing too much. Just listened to your podcast with Teneshia Jackson and you mentioned you might be the was it hobby dreamer? (Wording?) Maybe do her quiz to help you make future decisions without thinking about money! Obviously the money you make from your current position is NOT making you happy!?!?

      Possible solution if you don’t want to give up certain things all together then cut things back like what another reader said.

      Work 3 days as doctor
      1 day for BOBW
      1 day for BLP
      Read less
      Workout less

      Who knows?

      Buy a pink Harley Davidson and road trip it with a bestie from Miami to Vegas ?? 😃🥳

  • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    I’m done with stopping at stop signs. Most people wear seatbelts now, and most car accidents are very mild.

    • Reply Jeanna January 29, 2022 at 8:17 pm

      The New York Times had a great morning newsletter about some of the strange risk perceptions that have resulted from the pandemic. For example, the risk of never stopping at stop signs would be vastly different than not wearing a mask to protect against Covid. But there are many people who have a skewed perception of these risks. And thus we see arguments equating the two. I find it fascinating.

      • Reply Amy January 30, 2022 at 2:36 pm

        I’m not equating the two, for the record, but I’ll go there if you want.

        The purpose is to present another situation, with inherent risk, that most of us engage in reasonable risk mitigation measures when we partake. A situation that is less emotional than this one.

        Reasonable being the key word. Some of the situations outlined in these comments (special needs child unable to attend school in any capacity, masking outside, etc) are not reasonable.

        • Reply Anon for obvious reason - still skeptical of the crowd January 31, 2022 at 8:48 am

          Amy – it would be safest of all, if we lowered the speed limit by 10 mph. Shall we do that too? Lots of lives saved, no doubt. (I would support that over more masking in schools).

          • Anon (for now) in TX February 6, 2022 at 9:29 am

            Why not? The speed limit is an arbitrary measure, and if lowering it by 10mph will save lives, what possible reason is there not to do it? The idea that other people are being more irresponsible, so my kids shouldn’t have to wear masks is mind-boggling to me. Yes, as a society we have decided not to care about young kids or their parents, and yes that’s appealing. But the kids can still get sick, can still infect other people, and are still in public spaces where the public good should take precedence. Someone upthread said safety shouldn’t be sacred – I don’t get it, if safety isn’t sacred, what is? I’m baffled by this whole discussion, tbh.

    • Reply Amy January 29, 2022 at 8:57 pm

      Oh wow never heard that analogy before! You got me!

    • Reply Ali January 29, 2022 at 9:14 pm

      I have been very pro mask up until recently. I always wear one myself, but at this point my older children (7&9) are literally the only kids in their classes wearing masks. If everyone is driving like there are no rules or the road, does one person stopping at a stop sign make a difference? And what if the if they only halfway stop (wearing cloth masks) or only stop half the time (because they have to take them off for lunch)?

      I ask because my husband and I literally made the decision just today that we would let our kids start going maskless. They are vaccinated and we have been very cautious in general up to this point, but it seems like with omicron our risk calculations need to be updated…partially because it really does seem inevitable we will get it by the time we live in a very un-masked area and it is so transmissible.

      I would be all for this analogy before, but I just don’t think it rings true now. (Or maybe I’m just trying to defend our decision…which is definitely the case!)

      • Reply Irene January 30, 2022 at 9:03 am

        I think at this point the closer analogy is deciding to get in the car at all. Kids are definitely at higher risk of death from a car accident than COVID but we have decided cars are worth the risk. For my preschooler, I’m definitely at the point that the risk of removing the mask is worth it because no one can understand him in his mask. We have been on the waitlist for speach evaluation despite our pediatrician saying it’s not necessary because he deserves to be understood and where we live masks are not going away anytime soon. He needs to be able to see other kids faces (they are even wearing masks outside now, which I’m very frustrated about).

        My older child is doing well with masks so I’ve been less stressed about her but she just got glasses and….it’s a problem now. Trying to see what we can do but the doctor definitely said they know this is a problem and there’s only so much you can do.

        There was a time for masks but that time is not forever, especially for our kids.

        • Reply Amy January 30, 2022 at 1:01 pm

          Totally agree with this. (Also, masks + glasses have always been terrible.)

  • Reply sbc January 29, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    If you want ideas for your DC trip happy to help! I live about a mile from the Mall and love it here!

    • Reply Kathleen January 29, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      SBC-I would love to hear ideas from a local on a kid-friendly trip. My kids are a little older-we have no immediate plans to go but hopefully one day.

      • Reply Irene January 30, 2022 at 8:10 pm

        There is a great website called kid friendly dc with lots of info on upcoming events for kids but also some nice round ups of parks, museums etc from the perspective of a family with kids. We have used it many times and generally have agreed with the recommendations/perspectives.

  • Reply Alyce January 29, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    I would just like to point out that you started BLP during the pandemic when your and your kids extracurriculars and social activities were shut down to essentially nothing. You also started writing and engaging considerably more with folks here on your blog. I’d assume you also started reading more. You had extra time due to the pandemic when you took on some of these activities, but now that you’re getting back to your pre-pandemic level of activities, little to nothing has fallen away.

    Re: work stress – I feel similarly situated to you in terms of the stress of my new job. And even though I dream of quitting and trying to go back to my old job whenever work is especially bad, I am never able to forget that I was bored by my old job. And I don’t really want to go back to it. My new job is more demanding and stressful, and much more political, but I know I’m stretching and growing in ways that feel meaningful and rewarding. Going back to my old job where I am no longer challenged doesn’t actually seem like the solution to being overstretched in this new role. It just seems like it would swap out one problem for another.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 29, 2022 at 9:45 pm

      Very very valid points. Thank you. And yes I am also more engaged by my job in its current form, but also more emotionally involved. I’m wondering if I could still strive to learn and do well but take it all less personally?

      I think I will track the hours I spend doing podcast stuff, I tell myself it’s not that much but maybe it adds up more than I think.

      • Reply Alyce January 29, 2022 at 11:35 pm

        I just remembered you were also working part time too, back in the early days of the pandemic when your hospital was requiring people to take leave. So there are multiple significant factors at play here. You’re not failing to keep up with everything because there’s something wrong with you. You are *actually* overcommitted.

        And to your question, yes, you can definitely learn to take things less personally. And learn to let go of being likable (which is something you seem to also strive for). Therapy is such an amazing tool to support you as you practice letting go of the emotional reactivity that isn’t serving you. Not to be emotionless – emotions can be a powerful leadership tool when deployed strategically – but becoming better at feeling and understanding your emotions and using the information your gather from your emotions to chose a conscious rather than kneejerk reaction will make a huge difference in your professional life. I’m working on it too, and it really does help.

      • Reply Elisabeth January 30, 2022 at 5:31 am

        Oh Sarah. First, thanks as always for broaching these hard topics. Second, I wish you lived right next door; I feel like a good cup of tea once a week together would be lovely.

        Honestly, this just feels like you wanting to keep do it all. You’re trying to change your personality (“I’m wondering if I could still strive to learn and do well but take it all less personally” – in my opinion, that’s unlikely to happen. If I could snap my fingers and change a dozen things about my personality…I would…but then if everyone did that, the world would be a very different place and I suspect would lose a lot of the very diversity that we need).
        I see so much of myself in you (just with dramatically fewer achievements under my belt)! Seriously, what you’ve done is incredible (a major career, three children, daily exercise, TWO podcasts, being a prolific reader)…but it doesn’t seem to be bringing you joy. In fact, having read your blog for years now, the more things that get added, the more and more discontent you seem. I am, frankly, so glad you voice your discontent, because I think, as Thoreau would argue: “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”

        I have cried about 4 times this weekend from sheer exhaustion and overwhelm and I told my husband just yesterday that we have got to look at him stepping away from his current role. The compensation is amazing, but it simply isn’t worth the trade-offs. He works late every night and I, in addition to mothering and my own work, basically manage everything in our home (bills, appointments, garbage). Even outsourcing is exhausting (paying a cleaner, organizing and paying a babysitter etc). What I need isn’t more money or more stuff or more childcare or more outsourcing – what I need is a break from the grind of “advance, advance, never retreat” message that the world keeps pumping into my ears. I need a husband available to help put kids to bed…

        I just don’t think we’re going to look back in 40 years and say: “Wow, I wish we had had busier lives when the kids were little.” We’ve done a solid decade of incredible levels of work, and I’m more exhausted and unhappy than ever before. I think everyone gets to this point eventually; I just want to get to the point before it’s “too late.”

        A few days ago I blogged about something (can’t remember what) and a reader commented about how she is proud to no longer have “status” with an airline because it represents being on the road so often which almost always has negative implications for family. Just now I’m thinking of that another way – “status” in a busy life. I accepted a new role last fall and if I look back at it now, it was almost exclusively to make me feel more productive. Adding another layer of responsibility would validate me. I knew better, but did it anyway. And guess what, it hasn’t worked! I’m just more tired than ever.

        What do you want? I know you want it all – we all do – but that simply can’t happen. It’s an illusion if we think we’re seeing it elsewhere on the internet. Do you want to leave medicine? You can do that. Do you want to pour your heart into podcasting? You can do that. Do you want to take a medical leave and get some time to recuperate – I assume you can do that? You really have a lot more say over this than you might think – I know you’re an upholder, but you can make big changes. Chances are you won’t be more unhappy because of it?

        We all have about 4,000 weeks. I said to my husband yesterday (currently storm-stayed away from our family while on the road, hence all the tears): I don’t need stuff, I don’t need money – I need us, together. At the core, what do you want? Then get at pursuing that and get rid of the rest. Keep the flowers, pull the weeds.

        • Reply Amy January 30, 2022 at 7:26 am

          Million-dollar comment.

        • Reply ahealthyslice January 30, 2022 at 7:53 am

          Is there a like button for this comment? I feel Elisabeth said everything I was thinking in such an eloquent way.
          Cal Newport’s Deep Work had a section on the importance of leisure and downtime and how NOT frivolous they are. It made a very positive impact on my and how I structure my days and the demands I put on myself. I had to take a hard look in the mirror, solidify my priorities, then implement. Our calendars reflect our priorities and mine is finally getting closer in line. I hope the same for you!

        • Reply Mrs. Candid January 30, 2022 at 8:37 am

          Love your comment Elisabeth ❤ and, out of the 4000 weeks you mention, most of us have already utilized around half of it, so we have around 2000 weeks now, and probably half of it will be our healthy , productive ones. So we need to be very aware of how we would like to spend them. Tough choices, but keeping this in mind can help us make them with more conviction.

        • Reply Amanda January 30, 2022 at 1:59 pm

          Can we organize a giant tea party please? I know this comment is for Sarah, but you just put into words what I’ve been trying to figure out since latte last summer. “the more things that get added, the more and more discontent you seem” Yes, yes, yes! This year (just 1 month in I know, but…) I have focused on being intentional with my time (keeping the flowers and pulling the weeds as you said) and having more time home with my husband and son and it’s been amazing. Thanks for such an amazing comment!

          • Elisabeth January 30, 2022 at 2:38 pm

            I clearly don’t actually have it figured out yet (at all)…considering I spent much of the weekend in tears. But I feel like I’m getting closer to making a few big, seemingly counter-cultural decisions, to take back some control over our family work/life balance and what I really value. It’s hard, though, to chip away at societal pressures I’ve assigned to myself; roles I felt obligated to fill that drain my tank.

            It reminds me of the famous example of the Mexican fisherman who lives happily with his wife, enjoying a modest catch and pleasant social interactions with his village friends. He’s visited by a businessman who sees his small-scale success and encourages him to build a commercial fishery. Buy a fleet of boats, manage a crew of fisherman. Leave for NYC and take his empire public. And what then, asks the fisherman?
            And then, he’s told, you can come home to live happily with your wife, enjoy a modest catch, and engage in pleasant social interactions with your village friends.
            I’m paraphrasing (and not necessarily well – it’s a great little story to Google), but the punchline is obvious. Why am I relentlessly pursuing things that have no track-record of bringing happiness and fulfillment? I’m either pursuing them for the wrong reasons (i.e. to attain wealth/status) OR I’m pursuing the wrong things.
            Very existential, but we only get one life to live and I happen to be a mother and have the added responsibility of helping to RAISE THE NEXT GENERATION. And I want better for them. I want them to be content, productive, and engaged citizens that can impact change not just tick off the boxes the current society is setting for them (that so often involves things that are detrimental to our mental health). I want them to be independent thinkers, to challenge the status quo, and to ask: “How can we make the world a better place?”
            Okay. Off soap box.

  • Reply Sarah K January 30, 2022 at 3:37 am

    Sarah I know you are an avid early-planner of vacations (or you were before covid at least). I am the same way. Looking at various destinations for this spring and summer everything seems more expensive than it was just 2 years ago, more so than inflation would account for. It’s really weird. I am holding off on booking things because I am hoping flight prices go down as more airlines resume regular schedules- but am also worried about not getting to do what I want if I don’t book early!

  • Reply Amanda January 30, 2022 at 7:21 am

    I think it would be worth trying to take things less personally or “care less” even if it doesn’t come naturally. I hit a point in my fellowship where I was SO STRESSED it was making me miserable and I realized a lot of it was coming from how I thought I was perceived. The negative impact of the stress was enough to sort of force me to stop caring as much, and it’s been helpful. Laura’s work actually also helped me with this regarding lowering standards and realizing other people just weren’t working that hard.

    I also just wanted to say three more thoughts – that I wonder if having some social events just for you would help – go to dinner w a friend and drink 3 glasses of wine. If my husband worked as much as yours did I would have a really hard time staying positive about that (he sounds truly wonderful and I understand that it’s just the reality for a surgeon, but I would hate it). Finally, there was a BOBW pod sometime where I remember you saying that you felt like you were in a really good place at work – could see your patient volume and run your program and you didn’t think you worked 40 hours per week. I wonder when this was and what was different at this time? The good news is you have lots of options and could make any variety of changes (if you choose) to improve things. Hang in there!

  • Reply A. January 30, 2022 at 8:11 am

    I still find it interesting to read people saying « when covid will be over bla bla » : it will not. Because: Variants. And masks in public are here to stay, like they do in Asia since… well a long long time. It is a new normal. We have to adapt. Not resist. Not rebel. Just adapt to the newness and all we don’t know and cannot predict. Lots of science evidences that there will be other pandemics, and climate change is to blame. We are to blame with our consumerism, and travels, and being in denial that we are affecting our planet in ways that it is not reversible. Big changes will have to hapen. If some people refuse a simple vaccine or cannot accept a climate crisis is on right now… well good luck to us.

    • Reply J January 30, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Thank you for pointing out that masking in public is a norm in many parts of Asia. I’m baffled by arguments that pretend that just because masking has not been a norm in the US/Europe that it is terrible for children given that there is no evidence of developmental delays for children in Asia. Dislike of something new-to-us is not a reason to abandon it. I will happily continue masking in public spaces to limit spread and keep vital services (healthcare, schools, etc) running smoothly. I think there are reasonable arguments to be made about off-ramps, but only if they’re made in conjunction with the recognition of the need for on-ramps when we have future surges.

      • Reply Lydia January 30, 2022 at 4:20 pm

        My understanding is that masking has been the norm *for people with URI symptoms* in those places (that’s how it was during my time living in urban Mexico, at least—I’m not as familiar with Asia). At least where we are, masking is generally opt-out, not opt-in, and we are certainly feeling the consequences. My four-year-old is only just now getting to the point where he can speak loudly and clearly enough to be heard behind a mask in a room with any noise at all, and without a mask it is not challenging at all. This is a kid without other compounding issues. And he’s had to wear a mask full-time for two years now at preschool. That’s not a norm… anywhere. I’m also frustrated at the lack of off-ramp as we see the same challenge coming down the pipeline for my May 2020 baby, who we never ever imagined would still be dealing with this.

        • Reply Hilary January 30, 2022 at 4:29 pm

          Agree w/ Lydia – I’ve traveled pretty extensively in Asia and the historical “norm” of masking there is hardly comparable to what we have here (my “here” being NorCal – where my vaccinated elementary kids wear kn95s the entire day including recesses and outdoor gym class).

          • A. January 31, 2022 at 11:35 am

            Yes, masking outdoor for gym or recesses is ridiculous, we know for months (year?) covid is airborne. Even a class indoors with open windows and good ventilation very seriously drop the transmission. My 5yo son is not affected by mask, more by not having any friend indoor to play… But good thing he likes outdoors and winter. (For masking in Asia: it is a question of population density I guess. But I don’t know the history of masking in Asia, just that it is a norm and that they did have to adapt.)

      • Reply Marjorie February 14, 2022 at 6:13 pm

        Just wanted to mention that I grew up in Asia (the Philippines), lived in Japan for two years, and have traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia as well. Masking up pre-pandemic on a regular basis there has never been the *norm*, but it’s also not something alien as it is here. Generally folks mask up in places like Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and China when they have respiratory infections, especially if they’re elderly. No one thinks it’s odd if one masks, and no one questions it — it’s just something you do as a sanitation/hygiene issue, not a political one. But it’s definitely never been a “all day/every day/everyone” habit, although I suspect post-pandemic (whenever that is) it’ll be a bit more common.

  • Reply gwinne January 30, 2022 at 9:34 am

    There’s a lot here. Both in your post and in the comment thread.

    Re: overwhelm. I’ll echo most of what’s here. You have three kids, a FULL full-time job, and hearty ‘side hustle.’ You really don’t have much true leisure, as a true love (e.g. planning!) has become another area in which you want to be ‘productive.’ I don’t say this to criticize at all. But from an outsider’s perspective, this is just A LOT. And while I know you were excited to be moving out of the little kid stage, which is demanding, big kids are no less demanding. Just different, as their lives become their own.

    I will say I’m surprised by the done-with-masks sentiment, less from you specifically, than in general on the thread. Like someone (sorry, lost the comment) said, it’s very much situational. But my kids and I have upped our masking game, both because Omicron and because others aren’t reliably wearing them. Tiny Boy occasionally wears cloth outside because it’s freezing and he sees that as a way to keep his face warm (ha!) but otherwise in public places he’s in a KF94, which fits better than his cloth anyway. What infuriates me, honestly, is folks who wear masks as chin straps. There is literally no point. Should teachers be wearing masks that are ‘accessible’ for student learning? Probably.

    All this might be colored by the fact that my big kid was isolated for *13 days* with COVID symptoms/positivity. Mild symptoms, okay. But it could have been otherwise. And that resulted from a couple hours hanging out unmasked with two vaccinated friends. Not saying that wasn’t a risk worth taking. But in general…..high quality masks do what they are supposed to do.

    Just my nickel’s worth

    • Reply Irene January 30, 2022 at 10:14 am

      I think the divide might happen partially due to the age of the kids. I have a 3 year old and a 7 year old and the 3 year old’s preschool is actually stricter about masks- right now they wear them outside too. I have a LOT more urgency about getting the mask off my 3 year old because I can really see how it’s affecting him and some of the other children his age. It’s increasingly clear to me why the rest of the world doesn’t mask kids under 5 and I’m frustrated that we stuck with this even during times of very very low transmission in our area. I’d be willing to do masks for a few weeks at a time during surges but NOT forever and I feel stressed that some people seem willing to do this indefinitely.

      • Reply gwinne January 30, 2022 at 10:43 am

        Can definitely see that with the preschool and under set! And certainly in specific cases, re: kids with speech and other learning issues. I’m certainly not advocating for all-masks-all-the-time. But elementary school in winter during a surge? Yes, please.

        • Reply Amanda January 30, 2022 at 2:03 pm

          Don’t mean this in a sarcastic way at all but are you wanting to do masks for every respiratory and flu season going forward? We are rapidly reaching a point where Covid is endemic and most people have access to vaccines, which is making me question what our end goal is here/when will all the quarantine and masks stop. I’m a peds specialist like Sarah and have seen my share of bad outcomes in kids with Covid, which is tragic, but I’ve also seen bad outcomes from flu, other coronaviruses, parainfluenza, adenovirus, etc. These are risks we’ve always lived with, and the data continues to show that for the most part Covid causes mild symptoms in kids. I’m also seeing a crazy amount of horrible psychiatric issues in my patients that are being driven by pandemic stress, when these kids probably all would have been fine if they got Covid. My daughter actually isn’t old enough for vaccine so I am certainly still anxious and don’t WANT her to get sick, but I’m also tired of her having so many days of preschool cancelled, play dates cancelled bc we’re all being so careful, etc. Two years is a long time in a kids’ life.

          • omdg January 30, 2022 at 2:18 pm

            Eh, maybe that would be ok? My daughter (and consequently me and my husband too) have been sick less often in the past two years than any time ever before. Come to think of it, I haven’t caught a bug at the hospital in the past two years either. It has been glorious. I hate being sick.

          • gwinne January 30, 2022 at 3:08 pm

            Wanting? No, of course not. Willing? Yes, absolutely. I’d much prefer masking to lost school and work time due to ANY illness.

            Right now masking is allowing my kid to do things relatively safely like have indoor playdates (!!!) that he hadn’t done for almost two years. He’s definitely had anxiety/psych issues from the *pandemic* but not from *masks* Obviously I’m not making a generalization here about what the US as a nation “should do,” just speaking from my own situation.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 30, 2022 at 3:27 pm

          yes, I think age matters a lot here. One thing I didn’t mention in the body of this post is that G is having some behavior struggles in school and I really wonder if masks (leading to less clear communication, harder to read teacher’s signals, etc) is a part of it.

          Annabel has no problem with a surgical mask and probably would not mind a fancier mask IF it were comfortable (again – haven’t found one yet that is comfortable for me and have tried 4 at this point, but maybe they exist! And I DO wear an N95 at work but I yank it off between patients while I write my notes in my office because it hurts my nose so much and prolonged wear seems to trigger headaches).

          • Irene January 30, 2022 at 8:17 pm

            I’m sorry Sarah, we are not really having behavioral issues but my son just doesn’t seem to like preschool especially since they added back masks outdoors. We have had a lot of conversations with the teachers and they are pretty upfront about the trouble the kids have understanding each other in masks. I think the teachers also come across as stricter and less friendly with their faces covered; I’ve been thinking a lot about what it must seem like to him and the more I think about it the more I feel sad.

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns January 30, 2022 at 4:13 pm

        The divide is very much age-based for me. I have no issue wearing a mask and don’t know when I would stop wearing them in public, indoor places where I am not sure who is or isn’t vaccinated. But that is due to me being immune compromised and unsure how well protected I am. But I feel differently about our almost 4yo. I am glad he isn’t required to wear a mask at school. He surely would not keep it on. We don’t take him places besides the doctor because I can’t trust he will keep his mask on. When he is vaccine eligible I think/hope I will feel differently because it’s been hard being cooped up in our house during super cold days, which are common in Minnesota winters. But it seems like there is a compromise here. Despite not wearing masks, there has been very little Covid transmission at daycare over the last 2 years. So there seems to be an age group that has low viral loads and more downsides to masking. But what is that age cut off? I feel like masking protocols should weigh both factors. So maybe early elementary and younger shouldn’t mask and masks should be used for older students when disease levels are higher? I don’t know but it’s something worth asking and looking into IMO. The distinction I’m trying to make is that you can ask these questions, like Sarah did, and still respect Covid and havoc it can wreak. I think we all need to figure out how to reset our risk parameters, too. I’ve been in a ‘nothing is safe’ mindset for so long, especially with me being higher risk. But I can’t use this risk framework forever. Emily Oster’s thoughts on this topic have been helpful. Like if the risk to me going to a restaurant now is the same as it was during cold and flu season pre-Covid since I’m vaxxed and boosted (and have had 4 doses total since I was eligible for boosters earlier than the general population) should I be going? I haven’t been in a restaurant since the pandemic started and it hasn’t been worth the risk, but the risk might never be lower than it is after this latest surge is behind us, especially once my kids who are 1 & 4 are vaccine eligible.

    • Reply Anon for obvious reason - still skeptical of the crowd January 31, 2022 at 9:48 am

      My teenager just finished 11 days of isolation, and she is boosted and wears a mask everywhere except when she is outside. Her symptoms were incredibly mild and teachers have a plan to help kids keep up with school, though it is imperfect but appreciated. I had a pretty different reaction which is — the vaccines worked as advertised. The symptoms were milder than a “normal” winter cold. We have tools to prevent more severe disease. What is the end game here because surely this is not what we are continuing to disrupt society for?

  • Reply Tierney January 30, 2022 at 11:23 am

    I realize this may be too big of an ask, but I am interested in your reaction to the feedback and strategies offered in the comments section. I find that I can have blind spots in my own life that others can clearly identify. Since the idea of “too much” is repeated a lot, do you think this feedback is correct? Whether it is or isn’t, are the actionable steps that can be taken from it? Anyway, if this is to personal or something you don’t want to write about, I totally get it. But I feel it could make a great follow up post.

    • Reply Mrs. Candid January 30, 2022 at 11:30 am

      Yes, I would like a followup post to this thread too, in case it’s okay with Sarah. However she might need more time to collect her thoughts on this.

  • Reply I January 30, 2022 at 11:47 am

    I guess I don’t get the leap from, “my kids don’t like kn95s” to “I’m done with all masks. Covid is no big deal.”

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 30, 2022 at 1:39 pm

      Totally fair.

      • Reply omdg January 30, 2022 at 2:04 pm

        And sorry that was me. My phone had a seizure as I was entering my comment.

    • Reply Anon for obvious reason - still skeptical of the crowd January 31, 2022 at 8:31 am

      How about phrasing this way? Since vaccines for ages 5 and over are ubiquitous and free in the United States and the U.S. government allocated ~133 billion in spring 2021 for improvement of schools, it is back on officials to explain the purpose and duration of any additional mitigation measures? I mean at this point, what is the public health goal? Reduced hospitalizations? If so, masks in schools is a nearly meaningless way to achieve that, no? Reduced cases? Why is that the goal – when have been told for the past two years it was about lower hospital burden?

      I’m a liberal, btw, who is delighted that the tide seems to be turning. At least we can discuss these issues. I remember commenting on someone’s blog last year, and wow, the hate comments were incredible. We are beyond the point where we need to weigh the effectiveness AND COST of various measures. Sadly, there is many more harms in the world than covid, and we need to publicly weigh and consider those too. By the way, though, I’d like to see masks go in schools and believe they are a hinderance to many students, but if ultimately, there was a cost/benefit analysis (and the cost to children was considered) and the educators/public health officials decided masks where the way to go, that would be okay — provided they actually planned for an off-ramp.

      • Reply Kathy January 31, 2022 at 10:18 am

        I cannot applaud this comment enough. Standing ovation.

      • Reply Amy January 31, 2022 at 12:21 pm

        This x100. There needs to be an off ramp here.

      • Reply Ali January 31, 2022 at 3:09 pm

        YES! I am absolutely concerned about Covid…and that is why my family is vaccinated and we’re absolutely on board with social distancing, masking, etc until then.

  • Reply Bryce January 30, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    Sarah– I just want to echo what others above have said, and also to point out that you have a husband who works a more than full-time job, and from what you share on the blog and the podcast, it seems like you do the lion’s share of the parenting as well, given that he is often home late, and works more call weeks (and thus, weekends) than you do. So you are doing the big job with the three school-aged kids, big side hustle, *and* the majority of parenting. I am guessing that this is part of what led you to go down to .8/.9 before, and as others have pointed out, you haven’t really taken anything off your plate since going back to full time. I also want to echo that you don’t seem to have a lot of time for fun in your schedule– all of your “leisure” activities are productive (blog/podcasts, even workouts and reading seem goal-oriented). You used to have a lot more social engagements with adults (with and without kids) that seemed to bring you a lot of joy, but I think even though many of those may be safe again we are all kind of out of the rhythm of doing them. I think it might be fruitful to take a hard look at your time, and then trying to see where you can add in more fun, and whether than can be done with current responsibilities or might require scaling back. I also wonder if just lowering the bar, for reading, for workouts, for podcasts (maybe every other week?), for parenting, etc could help.

  • Reply Jessica January 30, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    I really appreciate your blog and podcasts. My 4 kids are almost the exact same age spread as yours, but 5 years ahead (so my youngest is A’s age and oldest in high school). I don’t think your kids will get any easier, so whatever you decide to do, I would suggest making that decision assuming the parenting part will stay about the same.

    Also, I agree that you added things during the pandemic and now something has to give. I just had this conversation with my kids- we added some silly little things (like kids make dessert on Mondays) and we no longer have time for them. That is just a small example but at first I tried to keep some of the stuff in place. Now Mondays have play practice and hockey and soccer etc so there is no time for making dessert.

    One other thing-the most overwhelmed I have felt in my life was when my kids were 3-8 and my husband was deployed. What helped me so much was getting 8 hours of sleep every night. It was my one hill to die on. I had to be up at 6 so I was in my bed with lights out by 9:45 every night. I really think that alone saved me.

  • Reply Katherine January 30, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Lots of wonderful insights here. There are some comments about learning to take things less personally. I was at a leadership conference where a panelist shared that some people just don’t like (leaders/managers/deans/GME/program coordinators). It isn’t personal, it is a reaction to your role. It’s really hard to know that some people won’t like you because of your role and some people won’t like you because of your decisions, but this is baked into the job. This framing helped me a lot. By nature, I’m a highly sensitive person who wants to help others. Moving into leadership means that I have to find new methods to process criticism and accept not being liked by some colleagues. I might take it personally, but I can practice letting it go instead of storing it up.

    To be clear, this isn’t about changing my personality – it is about building on the strengths that come with being highly sensitive and having strategies to cope with the challenges. It’s been a form of radical self-acceptance. The book “Thanks for the Feedback (even when it is off-base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood)” by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen helped me a lot. Take good care.

  • Reply Jenny January 30, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    Lots of great comments up above and I don’t have much to add but one thing no one else has mentioned is kid activities. I feel like I remember a fair amount of relief on your part when all this was put on pause during the early pandemic, and a realization that you’d been overcommitted on that front but had difficult scaling back since each activity on its own seemed to have merit. Just throwing that out there as you’ve mentioned all three kids being back in activities recently, some having multiple extracurriculars (C’s soccer and track), others quite resource-intensive (horse shows!), and all with the potential to dominate huge chunks of the weekend.

    The other thing I would question is how much a heavy focus on goals you serving you generally. You had a seven-part series on goals (or something like that) recently at the start of 2022, some of which probably don’t need to be quantified. What if you just read books you enjoyed at a pace that felt reasonable instead of striving to hit a particular a number? What if you just exercised daily in whatever form felt good when you woke up instead of following a program or a certain number of miles?

    Take care, I hope you feel better soon.

    • Reply Erin January 31, 2022 at 9:55 am

      I totally agree that removing quantification from some pursuits would be worth examining. I’m a self-regulation researcher and though I haven’t done any work on this myself, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that excessive quantification/tracking can undermine intrinsic motivation. I’m a big reader — since I was very young, as I suspect many readers can identify with — and that has always struck me as something that there is just no need to turn into a goal or track if you’re already doing it. Maybe I will get around to doing a study on this someday!

      • Reply Mrs. Candid January 31, 2022 at 10:21 am

        Agree that over quantification can steal the joy. These are “love to do” lists not “must do for survival” lists, so why not give them more leeway.

  • Reply Sarah January 30, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    My husband and I JUST had a huge conversation about extra curriculars and their costs v. benefits especially re: STRESS. For us (5 kids ages 1,8,9,13,and 15) we decided that the chaos IS a value-add because COVID has screwed up their social lives in so many ways. Really, though, you are in the very hardest time for activities. It gets SO MUCH EASIER when kids leave club sports behind and can just do stuff through the school district/high school and middle school teams.

  • Reply Jenn N January 31, 2022 at 6:47 am

    I’ve been thinking about your post and all the thoughtful comments! I teach first grade and the kids are masked currently and I have to say that the masks do work in terms of stopping transmission. Throughout my decade of teaching I usually get sick pretty reliably four times a year – once in September, once in late Nov/early Dec, once in late Jan/early Feb, and once more in the March/April timeframe. Several of those times have been from a child spitting into my mouth. I haven’t gotten sick at all this year (knock on wood!). With that being said this year the behaviour issues are the highest they’ve ever been. I have a feeling this may be more due to lots of previous online learning so less socialization during the formative years, but I’m sure masks must play a part too. So I don’t know what the answer is. Haha.

    Re: stress, for me it’s still Covid related because many teachers get it and are out for 1-2 weeks in isolation and we have to cover their duties, classes during our prep, etc, and I know it’s “inevitable” that I get it and that malaise is super uncomfortable! Having to walk out of the classroom every day wondering if I’ll be back the next day and therefore needing solid day plans for a substitute teacher that covers several days. Honestly, I wasn’t really feeling the Covid stress during this school year until omicron hit, even though it’s milder and seems like it could be “the beginning of the end(emic)”.

  • Reply Brooke January 31, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    I’m late to the discussion but wanted to recommend this podcast episode:

    It validated my feelings of overwhelm and confusion. It also helped to ease my anxiety and to start (re-)living the life I have been wanting to.

  • Reply Taryn February 2, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    We actually pulled our kids from public school due to the mask (and the curriculum changes we don’t agree with). They now attend a small private school with no mask mandate, no quarantine rules, etc. We just got their class photo and it was just so NICE to see all of their smiling faces together in one smooshed group. Have kids gotten sick this year? Yes. Have kids gotten covid? Yes. But they are all ok and have better immune systems for it. And 0% of the kids at this school (and 0% of the parents) are vaccinated. I feel so badly for kids who have to wear masks all day.

    • Reply Amy February 3, 2022 at 5:23 pm

      Good for you. My kids are getting over Covid right now and as soon as we can, we’re signing a mask exemption for them. It’s time to move on and stop punishing our kids for the fact that viral illness exists in the world.

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