I had some great intentions for this week.
My kids, I had planned, would have lots of things to enjoy despite all the shut downs. They would stay engaged in learning. They would not sit in front of screens too often.
We would do online museum tours!
We would have family games nights!
We would BAKE!
This has not happened.
My job, I had planned, would have the space to explore big ideas.
I would do some visioning!
I would revamp some programs!
I would read, research, reflect!
This has not happened.
And my HOUSE! Well…
I would sort through the too small clothes with the kids!
I would organize the basement!
I would finally paint the bathroom!
This has not happened.
I have not rested more. I have not enjoyed a new netflix series. I have not organized, planned, cleaned, or home schooled.
And, yet, at the end of this first official week of social isolation and working from home, I am so tired. I am completely and totally pooped.
At first it baffled me.
“Why am I so tired?” I asked myself. “I’ve been home all week! I wear slippers all day. We haven’t had to drive the kids to anything. Half my stuff is cancelled. I’m not working in a hospital or a grocery store. Those workers should be tired. Why me?”
Then I started to talk to others who have felt the exact same way. Over messenger and email and on the phone we have commiserated: “I am so exhausted! I thought this would be downtime!”
That’s when I realized that I’m not alone in my weariness and I started to consider why this is. Here are some of my thoughts:
Working From Home is Still Working
For most of us, this isn’t actually time off. Even if you are working from home, you still have to get the same amount of work done – only you have to do it in new ways, and in a space not organized for your job and with kids around asking for you to get them soup or crayons or toilet paper. Adjusting to new things is physically and emotionally draining, and we are doing it all the time. One more time for those in the back: WORKING FROM HOME IS NOT TIME OFF. Of course you’re tired.
Online Meetings Take More Energy
There are studies that show online meetings are actually MORE tiring than meeting face to face. Looking at screens for a long time, monitoring where voices are coming from, helping your coworker figure out how to get their sound back on for the 6th time…all of this takes effort. If you’re like me, you’ve lived on Zoom this week. Of course you’re tired!
Struggling to Step Back From Work
When working from home, the lines between work and home life blur more than they do normally. People are in contact more often and throughout the day over social media, on the phone and through text. Beyond that, this is a time of crisis for many professions. As a pastor, I’ve been scrambling this week to set up ministries that work for people in our church. Our staff has been trying to care for a lot of people who are worried. We’ve had to reassess how we do everything… And at your job, you are probably in the same boat. You’ve had to manage a lot of change this week. Of course you’re tired!
Your Kids are at Home
For the parents out there, we are trying to support and engage our kids while we are working. It’s a lot of extra work. This, to put a clear label on it, sucks. Even if you are a stay at home parent or have this time off, you are still caring for kids who have had all their programs cancelled, who can’t see their friends, and who are just as scared as you. Of course you’re tired!
This has been an emotionally overwhelming week. We are worried and anxious and tired and still not sure what the future holds. We are worried about getting sick. We’re worried about finances. We’re worried how long this will last. And we are doing this without the physical support of people we usually lean on. We are doing this without the systems and programs and routines we usually cherish. We miss going to the gym. We miss our weekly coffee dates. We miss yoga class and dinners with friends and playdates and small groups and swimming lessons. We miss our lives.
Of course we are all tired.
So my friends, let’s not be too hard on ourselves if week one of isolation didn’t feel very successful. Let’s not judge ourselves for feeling exhausted and needing a weekend just as much as any other week. Let’s cut ourselves some slack about the amount of screen time we gave the kids.
It’s been a week.
Of COURSE you’re tired.
(Author’s Note: With some feedback from those of you who are still working SO HARD at our many essential services, please don’t take this post in any way to compare to what you are doing and the level of tiredness you must feel. Thank you to all of you working and putting yourself at risk every day in the public sphere and who would like nothing more than to be in slippers all day. This post is geared to those of us at home feeling like we’re doing a whole lot of nothing and wondering why we may feel more drained than we think we should. But we know it does not compare with what you’re going through. We’re grateful for you!)
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