parent opinion

"No, you're not imagining it, parents have completely lost their sense of humour."

This is so not the moment. 

Not the moment to tell a frazzled-looking mum that it must be fun to be home playing with the kids all day. 

Not the moment to roll your eyes and say how tiresome it is that you have literally "got to the end of Netflix". 

Watch: Horoscopes as new mums. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

It isn't the right time to say that you wish you were pregnant because maternity leave will be that holiday you've been hanging out for. 

Or to throw out a gag about how homeschool looks like a lot of fun because it's all craft projects and YouTube tutorials when you're meant to be working. 

Nope. Consider this a warning, child-free friends: Keep it nice. Parents have officially lost their sense of humour. 

One of the many nasty side-effects of the coronavirus pandemic is that the gulf between parents and non-parents has widened by about a kilometre. 

Yes, lockdown was and is hard on everybody. Behind the "introvert's dream" memes and online yoga classes there's a mental health epidemic unfurling. Isolation, anxiety, depression. Beyond Blue report that from April, calls to their reach-out services were up 66 per cent. That's a lot of people struggling to cope with the new reality that they may and will be cut off from the world at little notice. That their livelihoods can be snatched away. That jobs can dry up. 

In Melbourne this weekend, almost five million people are in Stage Three lockdown - going back inside and closing their doors after only a few short weeks of something resembling normality. It's difficult, it's overwhelming. It's very, very strange. No-one is coping. 

But for parents, it's another level of stressful.

For a start, your own anxiety about the state of the world is the very last priority. Your job is to keep it together. As teacher guru Gabbie Stroud says, what children are really learning while they're in lockdown with their parents is not the schoolwork they're being set via Zoom. They're learning how to behave in a crisis. 

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And many, many of the nation's parents are feeling overwhelmed with guilt that what their children learned from this crisis the first time around was how to yell a lot, cry on the toilet and stress-eat ice-cream straight from the tub. 

So excuse us for not really being in the mood to laugh along with gags about what a breeze it all is. 

It's why hackles are up, comments are snippy and your mum-mate hasn't called you back. 

Parents have no time for jokes right now. 

There's nothing funny about trying to relearn Year 5 maths while also being on high-alert about losing the job you know you're lucky to have. 

There's nothing funny about dealing with kids' meltdowns while desperately trying to suppress one of your own.

Nothing funny about dealing with disoriented kids whose routines have been smashed, pieced back together and smashed again.

Or about being cut off from all the systems that usually help you raise a family - professional help, family support, opportunities to swap stories with other stressed-out parents. 

Or about struggling to pay for the childcare you need to find a job without a job to supply the funds. 

Listen: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo discuss parenting during isolation. Post continues below. 

There's nothing funny about providing three square meals and endless snacks for a houseful of people who are furious at not being where they wish they were. 

About trying to think of endless improving entertainments for a toddler with the attention span of an above-average goldfish.  

Or about struggling to change privacy settings on all the social media apps you hadn't even heard of three months ago. 

Or about trying to remember if you said 'yes' to that game with the automatic weapons in a moment of weakness. 

Or about negotiating shared parenting around work schedules and tedious online sports classes. 

There's nothing funny about constantly muting and un-muting your work meeting to mask the sound of screaming. 

Or about the mounting sense of guilt of not enjoying this forced together-time as much as you 'should'.

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Or about trying to log onto three different platforms just to understand how you're meant to submit that school work it seems so important they do. 

Or about spending money you kind of need on a printer for all these bloody worksheets. 

Or on a new modem because suddenly, the household WiFi is sagging under the strain.

There's nothing funny about little children asking you if they're going to die. Or if you are. 

And there's nothing amusing about the angst gripping everyone who chose to bring a life into a world that seems almost entirely out of control. Where nothing is predictable, where there are no certainties, no relevant learned wisdom from the past. Where we're looking down at our children and thinking: No, we've got no idea at all what's going to happen next, either. Hold on tight, little one. 

So if the parent in your life isn't laughing along at the moment, cut them some slack. 

They're kind of busy.  

Feature Image: Supplied.


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