Julie McIsaac
May 20, 2020

Please, No More Self-Care: A Quarantine Rant

I’ve been hesitating writing to you. I love to share and I love connecting, but I’ve turned inward these last couple of months. Partly because it’s what I needed to stay ok but mostly I didn’t want you to feel like someone else is here to tell you ‘one more thing’.

[Image Description: A light skin woman with auburn hair sitting at the bottom of a stone staircase outdoors beside a white wall. She's wearing a denim jacket. The woman is in distress. She's wincing and covering her face with both her arms near the …

I’ve been hesitating writing to you.

I love to share and I love connecting, but I’ve turned inward these last couple of months. Partly because it’s what I needed to stay ok but mostly I didn’t want you to feel like someone else is here to tell you ‘one more thing’.

We are saturated more than ever with information and how-to’s. I can’t accurately express how tired I am of answering the simple question, ‘how’s school going at home?’ And on the one hand, I’m grateful that we are all talking more about the mental health and wellness of our children, but part of me just wants to scream and say “IT’S NOT THE SAME!” And yes, I recognize that feels like I’m having a childish tantrum, and maybe I am, but the fact of the matter is that your quarantine looks different than my quarantine. Your pandemic experience is different than mine. You’ve probably seen the meme by now; we aren’t in the same boat, we’re in the same storm. It’s true! But let me just say, sometimes it feels like my neighbor is floating calmly along on the water’s edge while I’m stuck in a {choose your expletive} riptide..with big waves… and kids falling off the side…you get the picture.

With perspective, aided by sleep and coffee, I see that’s not a fair assumption. What we see in our neighbors and our friends on social media is just the tip of the iceberg. We don’t know the full story.

But yesterday, when I was fully ‘in it’, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling.

There was so much arguing with kids and SO many big, big feelings. I went outside to sit by myself and gather myself. While I took the opportunity to let the sun hit my face and take a deep breath, my son took the opportunity to lock me (and his brothers) out of the house. I wanted to climb into a hole or get on my bike and just go. But I could hear his younger brothers starting to plan their revenge. And then I heard a neighbor call the little one’s name and I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I walked out front to see the younger kids collecting rocks that they planned to use to break the window. Honestly. I can’t. So there I am, negotiating with my son through the closed window, with my little kids plotting revenge and neighbors in their respective driveways looking on. They are fully supportive neighbors, because they’re wonderful, but still. Please give me a hole to climb into.

And then the feelings got too big to hold back. The dam broke and the negative self talk flooded in; Why can’t I handle this? Why am I the only one with this mess on display? Why is my child so angry? Why won’t my other child EVER wear shoes outside? Why can’t I get organized with x, y or z? Why can’t I just finish this one project for work, or school, or my home?!


I know what I would say to a friend. I know what I would say to you. But I can’t hear it. I can’t accept it. I still must think deep down that I should be able to ‘do it all’ (even though I know that is literally impossible on a good day never mind during a PANDEMIC). At the end of the day, I just want to feel calm. I want to stay positive. But the reality is that I can plan or do the things I know I need and I can try as hard as I can to dig deep emotionally to stand steadily by my son as he rides a rollercoaster of emotions, but sometimes the day still falls apart. This is one more thing I can’t control right now. And maybe that’s why the floodgates opened. Maybe I just needed to feel control for a minute. And maybe my son just needed to feel control for a minute, too…

I’m writing this to you today to remind you that even though it really feels like it sometimes, you are not alone.

I encourage you to reach out to friends, connect with other families on a Facebook group of like-minded parents, or if you need to turn inward, put on headphones and turn your music up or put on a movie for the kids and sit on the kitchen floor with a journal….we know it’s helpful to write what you’re grateful for, but I’m here to tell you it’s also helpful just to complain and feel sorry for yourself and maybe figure out some things along the way.

And when you’re ready, I encourage you to browse our resources at Exceptional Lives to see if anything speaks to you. I’m not going to tell you what you need to do, because personally I’m just so sick of hearing that, but I do want you to know that as parents ourselves, we’ve had a lot of conversations about what might be helpful right now. We have a page dedicated to supports or activities for this time at home but we also have blogs with information you may want to share with friends (like information regarding recent insurance changes or new policies like family paid leave), and an upcoming webinar series addressing how to continue with ongoing services while at home.  We will get through this and we’ve got your back.  Though, if I could watch your kids so you can take a minute, trust me, I would.

Thank you for listening.

And if you want to tell me about your flood-gates-opening moment, email me at julie.mcisaac@exceptionallives.org. I’m always here. (literally. always. It’s a pandemic.)

Know someone who needs this reminder? Share on social and let’s keep talking.

  • Julie McIsaac, Ph.D.

    Child Development and Disability Advisor

    Julie specializes in working with children and families with diverse developmental profiles She uses reflective practice, emotion-coaching, play and a relationship-based framework to support skill building in the areas of emotional-regulation and problem-solving. Julie consults with families, schools and community organizations. As a parent, she understands the need to have a cohesive team supporting a child and family.

    Profile Photo of Julie McIsaac
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