A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and began preparing myself for a day of parenting in quarantine, otherwise known as Extreme Multitasking: 2020 Edition.
I had emails to respond to, an essay to proofread, a dishwasher to empty, a load of laundry to fold, all while my husband and I juggled watching our one-year-old… you know the drill.
But instead, for whatever reason—maybe I realized that one day not working wouldn’t be the end of the world, maybe I looked down at my daughter and realized how huge she was getting, maybe I just needed a break—I decided to do something radical: spend the day with my child doing nothing at all.
I looked at the pile of laundry, of dishes, my email inbox with its little red bubble of unread emails—and decided to forget they existed. I made biscuits for breakfast (an indulgence if ever there was one; they’re comprised entirely of butter.) Between the two of us, my daughter and I ate four of them. Afterwards, instead of doing the dishes, I left them in the sink and sat down on the ground next to my child and played.
For her nap that day, I rocked her like I usually do, but then instead of laying her down in her crib, I sat down on my bed, her asleep on my shoulder, and read a book. Afterwards, we had lunch on our balcony where we ate nothing but pears and kiwis (her favorites.) In the late afternoon, we took an extravagantly long bath, splashing until the water got cold, then ran around naked until one of us peed on the floor. Instead of stressing over dinner, we ordered in.
It was the most fun, relaxing day I’d had in ages. Why?
Because I didn’t try and do anything other than be a mom.
I realize that’s a luxury few of us can afford right now. In addition to being full-time parents and full-time workers, we’re now also being asked to be full-time teachers and full-time daycare providers, simultaneously. We’re watching the news with increasing anxiety, sanitizing every item that enters our homes—and doing all of it without our villages.
Which is why we deserve the occasional break. Just one day, just one, where we don’t have do anything but be a parent. So in case you feel like you need permission: you, too, can play hooky for the day. Ignore the email. Throw out the To-Do list (or save it for tomorrow.) Eat only pears and kiwis. Splash until the water gets cold. Let someone else cook dinner.