Two Totebaggers mentioned Sleep as an issue

From North of Boston

I am finding that sleep can be hard to come by these days, with pandemic-related stresses piled on top of regular life stresses. Totebaggers, how are you sleeping? What are your best tips for getting to sleep, staying asleep, and getting back to sleep if you wake up during the night?

From AustinMom

Can we talk sleep and blursdays? Pre-pandemic, I was a fairly typical early to bed (10-10:30 pm) and early to rise (5:30-6:00 am) though not all nights were restful. Weeks had a pattern to them; I knew what day of the week and date it was every day.

College students coming home shifted us all to later bedtimes, some much later than others. With one back on campus, we are slowly shifting a bit earlier, but I am really struggling to get into a routine. In the past month or so, I am having more blursdays where I find myself checking the calendar not just for the date, but the day of the week.

Last week for the first time in a while seemed more focused and productive along with being more oriented to the day of the week. This week is starting out a bit of a blursday. 

Are others facing this challenge? How are you dealing with it?

73 thoughts on “Sleep

  1. This is so timely!! I have insomnia for the past 3 weeks. It’s horrible. It’s like having a newborn except no one is offering to bring me meals. My attitude has taken a complete nosedive, as well. Last week all the bitterness of everything that has gone wrong in the past 2 years was rearing its ugly head BIG TIME. I refuse to live with bitterness so I was fighting against it, but all my reserves were gone due to lack of sleep. I was trying everything, no caffeine, taking melatonin, meditating. Nothing worked. I ordered a weighted blanket, and it arrived yesterday. I tried it last night, but it was so heavy I woke up and it was on the floor!

  2. I’ve actually been sleeping pretty well lately. I haven’t had the blursday issues since I’ve been working regularly, and my schedule is different every day.

    I have been having really bizarre dreams, though. Last night’s was something to do with superheroes, going to Albany for the NY governor’s election, eating at a really expensive buffet in a hotel restaurant, hand to hand combat, and some other weird crap.

  3. I have been setting the alarm and waking up at 6am every day since the pandemic began. Don’t know why. It seems to bring some order and control to my life.

  4. Yeah. Early on, I was able to keep to my normal schedule. Over time, though, I have drifted back to my more natural night owl self — partly because it became more apparent that things were going to drag on a lot longer; partly because I started to realize I didn’t actually still need to get up at 6, because I no longer needed to leave the house by 7 to beat traffic; and partly because as Rhett described a while ago, with people in my house all. the. time, the only time I could ever relax and know I wouldn’t be disturbed was after everyone went to sleep (a/k/a the introvert’s version of revenge bedtime procrastination).

    The problem is that I easily drift to 1-3 AM, but I still need to get up and work (and make sure DS is up for school). I am particularly bad with putting down the book or turning off the game without someone there to insist that it’s time to. So the last 4-5 days bedtime has been 1-3 AM, and wakeup has been 7:30-9. So I’m feeling it. Last night I *told* myself I was going to put the book down by 11:30 so I could get 8 hrs, but we didn’t go to bed until 11, and then I got caught up and soon enough it was 1 AM again. Grr.

  5. I’ve been staying up late because the kids are so exhausting that I then need more time to unwind from dealing with them. Then I wake up at 7 to get them up.

    I know this is a threadjack so feel free to ignore until later, but what has everyone found to be helpful for preteen and teenage attitude and general slacking? Our older 2 kids are not doing well at school (getting Cs) and #1 (13, in 7th) had her grades go way down from Q1 to Q2. DH and I are struggling to handle- we can’t totally take away internet since they need it for remote school, but are trying to restrict as much as we can, and we have no visibility into what they have been assigned for homework – we only see it after the fact when stuff is missing.

  6. For the most part I sleep pretty well, and will fall asleep within a minute when I put my book down or turn the tv off. My issue is that when I’m stressed or worried I’ll wake up around 3am and won’t fall back asleep. If I stay in bed I’ll never get to sleep, so I’ll come downstairs, turn on the tv and watch something on Discovery or Nat Geo. Sometimes I’ll drift off to sleep. I don’t know how to stop that, but I do know that alcohol doesn’t work. If I have more than 2 drinks I wake up even earlier.

  7. LT: you describe my exact flavor of insomnia. I go to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, and then wake up at 2:40 am. Every. Night.

  8. L – I was talking to my internist when I went in December about DS3 who really kind of fell apart academically this past fall. Doc said the social impact of covid (lack of) really is hitting young people hard because they see school as much as a social thing, maybe more, than a learning thing. So my idea is that could be what’s hitting your kids.

    And also, just maybe because I know it was true for me in 7th, there’s a bit of rebellion going on. I flunked, flunked, 3 classes 1st semester of 7th grade mostly because I hated it; things got straightened out for second semester. It is the right age for the rebellion it start.

    Good Luck!

  9. Sleep: have trained myself to go to bed between 10-11 most nights. Saturday was 930; last night was more like 1115. And I’ve been waking up before the 715 alarm most mornings for the past week or so. Maybe the added morning light is helping with that. I wake up a couple of times/night to pee but almost always conk right back out. It’s rare that I can’t get to / get back to sleep.

  10. LT/J-M: y’all are my DH. I have yet to see him awake more than 5 minutes after the lights go out; he’s just becoming less and less able to sleep past 5-6 AM. If we both keep gravitating in our current directions, by the time we’re 70, he’ll be waking up just about the time I’m dropping off. ;-)

    L: There’s no school website to track assignments and status? Can you talk to the various teachers about getting more up-to-date info so you can intervene before the kids fall way behind? FWIW, I suspect I have been lulled into a false sense of security and will be right there with you in another month or so. DS has been in his new classes for all of a week, and I’m already seeing an attitude change. He’s traded engineering and math for social studies and English — so instead of trying to build things with carboard and tape and doing some relatively quick/easy (for him) worksheets, he’s now having to spend a lot more time reading and analyzing and thinking. Not that it’s objectively a lot of work AT ALL — it’s just that with his easier courses in the fall, he got used to having so much free time that now it feels harder and more annoying by comparison. Add to that the fact that miscommunication at the end of the school year meant he never got the notice about the two books he was supposed to read before starting his English class so he now has a lot of stuff to make up in the first week or two (taking still more time away from his valuable video games), and, well, he’s a grumpy boy. I am starting to see the passive-aggressive resistance come back, a/k/a tell them what they want to hear and hope they don’t take it any further.

  11. I’ve kept a pretty routine schedule throughout the whole 11 months – bed by 10:30pm on weeknights and alarm to get up at 7am. I used to get up at 6:30am, so it’s not all that different. I do have issues sometimes waking up in the middle of the night if I am particularly stressed about something, but it’s infrequent enough not to be a big issue. Weekends I rarely stay up past midnight or sleep past 8am. I am just not a night owl anymore.

    I am hearing that sleep disruption is a big issue for women slightly older than me – I am dreading that possibility. I do NOT do well without regular sleep.

    “we have no visibility into what they have been assigned for homework – we only see it after the fact when stuff is missing.”

    This is a big problem – how is the remote learning being done? I can easily scan both the school grade portal and DS’s Google Classroom to make sure that he doesn’t have any outstanding assignments, late work, or poor grades on individual items before it becomes an issue. He’s good at getting his work done, but he’s needed a nudge when he’s gotten a bad grade on an assignment & he needed to discuss with the teacher (either due to a mistake in grading or a lack of understanding).

  12. L – Is there any possibility that your DH and you might consider letting the kids go hybrid rather than full-remote? Maybe being in the building (and with teachers/peers) twice a week might help?
    I agree with Fred’s point that social isolation can give rise to a lot of issues.

    Also, taking away all non-school internet can be a double-edged sword, because so much of kids’ socializing these days is done on their computers or phones since in-person interactions are so restricted. Taking away the connection to peers could increase the sense of isolation and all the issues that come with that sense of isolation.

    I really feel for you; none of this is easy.

  13. “If we both keep gravitating in our current directions, by the time we’re 70, he’ll be waking up just about the time I’m dropping off”

    LOL! DH will often watch hours of WWII documentaries while I’m sound asleep next to him. Luckily my dreams don’t take into account anything I’m hearing while sleeping.

    L – Sending you hugs! I know your experience. DD2 just went back to in person yesterday and she came home with more writing worksheets done then she had completed in the last 11 months! Her teacher told me that they are basically starting the year over and will be touching on a lot of topics that were “covered” via online school.

  14. I was waking up between 3 and 4 am every night and couldn’t go back to sleep. I think I’ve shared my little magic pill on here before, it’s called Sleep Aid at Costco. Kirkland branded. I forgot to take some when I went on vacay so looked up the active ingredients and I think it’s basically the same as Unisom. I will say that I still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night, the difference is that I can fall right back asleep.

    I am getting a lot more sleep due to the schedule and job/life demand changes with COVID. I go to bed most nights by 10:30 and wake up at 6. I would guess I’ve added at least an hour to my daily sleep schedule. I feel much better with more sleep.

  15. L, I wish you well.
    We bought a Gryphon router to block select websites during specified hours by child. It doesn’t work perfectly (Google classroom requires youtube access; there are bugs constantly being worked out) but limiting access to select sites during certain hours helps our boys focus. I don’t have access to assignments/grades till after the fact so I’ve gone to reviewing the calendar in their online learning platform with my two flaky sons a few times/week. (Twin 2 does well at completing his work.) I’m also going over DS1’s math homework, since the compressed every-other-quarter schedule is suboptimal for Algebra 2, which builds fast.

  16. Thanks all!

    We did get guardian access to #2’s Google Classroom, but that only sends an email on Fridays showing everything that *was* assigned in the past week. The teachers are not good about uploading the assignments to the parent portal on schoolbrains, and often we’ll only see the grades way after they come out, so the only reliable way for us to get things is to log in as the kids. (I’ll need to sit with #1 and make her give me her school login so we can get into her Google Classroom, since she hasn’t given us that yet.) BUT their Google Classroom is also horribly organized – there is stuff at the top of the “classwork” that was assigned in November or December and like 5 clicks to get through from the classroom to see the actual assignment (and that’s only if it’s in classroom – often there is a whole nother login/password etc. to get into IXL or Classkick or whatever the heck is assigned) so it’s very difficult to see what has actually been assigned and when it is due. NoB, hybrid is a nonstarter with my DH – for our town it is 4 full days in person.

  17. I’ve mentioned before that the supposedly correct dose of melatonin is .3 mg, not the 10 mg. that most pills come in. Well, according to Scott Alexander, anyway. Our local cannabis stores sell patches that are supposed to help you sleep, but I haven’t tried them. Benadryl doesn’t work for me — in addition to not making me drowsy, it actually clogs up my sinuses rather than clearing them.

  18. I share the same sleep pattern with Lemon Tree and Jeanne-Marie. No problem falling asleep but then I’m up at 3. It’s been an on again / off again problem but it got really bad about a year and a half ago when I was going through a particularly stressful period. A sympathetic nurse friend gave me a bottle of THC gummies (indica) and they work great. I sleep right through the night when I take one, which is about 2-3 times a week. Low dose xanax also works really well but I don’t want to take that on a regular basis. It used to be my go-to when I was traveling for work and I needed to sleep on the plane during overnight flights because we had a full work day when we landed. My current work assignment required a drug test so I stopped taking the gummies for about 6 weeks. I found that listening to podcasts helped me doze/fall back asleep. It was not a totally restful sleep but it was better than getting only 4 hours. I mentioned in another post that I’m using ear plugs to dampen the sound of DH’s snoring – that also helps quite a bit. I was one of those people who maybe slept 6 hours, max. It was usually like 5.5 hours sleep. I feel so much better when I get 7-8 hours sleep.

  19. L. May I speak bluntly? You and others should feel free to tell me I’m out of line, but I only have a minute and thus no beating around the bush. I say all of the following with genuine affection and a desire to help.

    You and your husband are setting your children up to fail and then thinking about how to punish them for it. On-line learning is a disaster. If they have access to in-person learning and you are not letting them go, you need to really rethink how you are balancing your risk assessment. Do you or your husband have a risk factor that makes you particularly susceptible to COVID? There has been very, very little spread of COVID in schools where proper precautions have been taken. Our kids have been in school 5 days/week since August and not a single case of spread. Your kids are suffering academically. No kid at the ages of your kids tries to fail a class. I think you need to take a hard look at whether you and your husband are making the right choices with school. I know from things you’ve written that your DH is extremely anxious about COVID, but it may be time for you to stand up to him for the sake of your kids.

    Ugh, so harsh and I’m sorry. But I feel the need to say it. Everyone else feel free to run me off the board.

  20. I usually drop off to bed before 10 pm and wake up by 5 am. I have increased my sleep time my taking an afternoon nap on weekends. Now that I am not driving my kids to various activities, I can nap on the weekends. The nap is so refreshing. Other than the naps, weekdays follow my old sleep/wake cycle. Kids are at school and till they finish with school, I will be up to see them off. My work day has an early start and I try to end by 5 pm. My kids are always popping in to talk after they get home so late afternoons suffer from interruptions.

    L – is a remote tutor a possibility ? Maybe not so much the tutoring but someone other than yourself to make sure that homework is on track and tests/quizzes are being studied for.
    It is hard to stay motivated when each school day is like Groundhog Day with nothing to look forward to. That’s what my DD says.

  21. L-I have my kids usernames/passwords and I can logon to their Google classroom accounts from my computer to see what is due. DS will get his work done on time, he just puts in way below the minimum effort and just wants to turn it in so I can’t see that he has something due. He’s in MS, so I’m trying to let him fail a bit on his own and then give consequences when report card grades come out. I’m going to have to pay for some tutoring over the summer.

  22. Lark +10000

    L, From what you have posted over the past months, it seems that your children have been deprived of a normal social life for almost a year, with no end in sight.

  23. Yesterday – I had a look at DS’s unofficial transcript. The gory detail of the grades from high school classes was revealed. I found this fascinating because my own school transcript only had my state level final exam marks.

  24. with no end in sight.

    Give or take we should have 300 million doses by the end of the summer. One dose pretty much insures you won’t be hospitalized or die. I think things should be pretty much back to normal by September. If that’s very likely the case, is it worth making a big deal out of if for the next couple months?

  25. Cold medicine (sudafed, Nyquil, bendryl) are the worst offenders for me. Even daytime sudafed. As soon as it wears off I pop wide awake. My DH tells me I should take melatonin on those nights that I wake up, but I’m always afraid that it will make my mornings rough.

    I also love naps. Even if I have a run of great nights of sleep, I have no problem taking a 30 minute nap.

  26. Lark – I totally agree that the online school is not optimal! Unfortunately there is a zero percent chance that we’ll put them back into in-person this year. The ‘re-entry’ time has passed, so we wouldn’t be able to put them into hybrid even if DH were to agree to it.

  27. I think things should be pretty much back to normal by September

    But kids will not be vaccinated, so things won’t be totally normal. Community spread will be significantly down, but kids won’t have the same protections as vaccinated adults. And so will L and her DH allow their kids to go back to school at that point?

    L, if the answer is yes, then screw this year and let the kids flounder with C’s and D’s. They’re doing what they can. But I think a hard look at what sacrifices you’re asking them to make, and if those sacrifices are worth it for their mental health and overall wellbeing, is truly warranted.

  28. L, I have kids out of control and Minecraft does not help. I few things we have tried (some successful): YouTube and Minecraft goes off at 7pm; My oldest set up her own weekly zoom bookclub with her friends; My oldest also has a monthly zoom fun night with friends (watch a movie on zoom, all bake cookies together, decorate cupcakes, bingo); Kids Messenger connects my youngest with her friends; we set up a minigolf course that they have to use their hoverboards on; we spent a night a local hotel and swam in the pool.

    I notice that when I can do a change of scenery or a completely different activity, my kids attitude changes and we are on a positive swing for a bit. With the hotel outing, I knew the hotel caters to business travel, that it was mostly empty, and that the pool is really nice. We only saw people in the lobby, and the pool was empty (the front desk employee had to let you in, in order to make sure it was empty). I know from calling around, there are some hotels around here that you reserve your pool and hot tub time so that you are guaranteed to have a time and no one else is there with you.

  29. “A sympathetic nurse friend gave me a bottle of THC gummies (indica) and they work great.”

    Ginger — I am the world’s biggest square (don’t drink, have never smoked, have never done any drugs of any kind), but I feel like I am *this close* to trying edibles (totally legal for recreational use in Massachusetts). Not for sleep per se, but for the anxiety-that-verges-on-panic that I have been experiencing from time to time over the past few months. In January 2020, I went fully off some depression meds (Citalopram) that I had been taking for a few years; it seemed like a good idea at the time, but then the rest of 2020 came crashing down. I would prefer not to go back on the meds, but man, there are times when I really feel like I need something — anything! — to take the edge off.

  30. wow, I am surprised and disappointed that your children’s school district does not permit a change for hybrid or remote. Ours is a quarterly selection and the reason is that the virus keeps changing. Vaccines, new variants, rates up/down etc.

    DD is hybrid in school for 2 days per week. It isn’t perfect because they are still on screens 100% of the time since the other 1/2 of the class is at home. Even when she goes to school, most of her teachers are looking into their cameras.

    Her only “social time” is at lunch. She is allowed to sit with one other person unless it is warm enough to be outside. I shared recently that she is isolated from almost all of her friends due to a quirk in the alphabet. Her friends attend school on the other days. She actually prefers when everyone is remote due to quarantines because then she isn’t alone. she is the only person in her cohort for Spanish. Since she is just one person, so the teacher never speaks to her- just the camera.

    She still wants to attend for at least two days, but I am sharing all of this to let you know that in person isn’t perfect. The one thing that foes seem certain around here is that there have been no transmissions of the virus in the school buildings. none. All cases occurred outside of school.

  31. If in-school is not an option, then you need to decide which hill you want to die on. Actually, you have already decided that keeping your kids at home instead of sending them to school is that hill. So own that decision, and let the academic chips fall where they have landed. When they do go back to school, accept that they will have essentially lost this year. They won’t be the only ones, for sure. But their longterm health and happiness will depend a lot more on improving the parent-child relationship now than the poor grades they may see at the end of the semester.

    Of course remote school is suboptimal and there is only so much that you can do to make it better. Don’t let actual home life be suboptimal too.

  32. L – My DD#2 has some mild learning disabilities that mainly revolve around executive function. It was the beginning of 6th grade where all the “juggling” of class work, multiple classes/teachers, and the beginnings of using electronic systems for assignments rather than just grades. It was the first time she hit an overload and didn’t have enough coping skills that most of her peers did. It started showing up as missed or low homework and project grades. Giving her more strategies to deal with the overload worked and in high school she had no accommodations.

    I am NOT suggesting your child has a disability, but simply that all the juggling of online education and the extra disorganization that seems to come along with it may be more than she can handle, especially on top of COVID. I agree teachers focus on communication with students and the parent portal often is ignored except for grades. I know several teachers who also keep trying new things, hoping it will be better, but it just adds layers or even more places for the kids to check.

    You might try logging in with her every day for a few weeks to see what it looks like, what is assigned to try to figure out if it is a reasonable confusion, confusion caused by poor systems on the school side, difficulty with juggling the way the information is coming at her, or another cause. When our kids have been doing well and then they don’t, its easy to assume it is their lack of motivation.

  33. The teens in our district have all gone nuts with social media during school, whether they are remote or in school. I keep DD’s phone upstairs while she is ostensibly in class, and that thing buzzes with incoming posts and texts every 3 seconds, and when I look at the notifications on the screen (yup, can’t resist) it is all kids from her classes, all of whom are supposedly in school. The teachers can’t police the devices in the classrooms because they can’t move from their cameras, so the kids just hide the phones behind their Chromebooks.The ones at home, well…

    Some kids can cope with the constant barrage of social media posts while trying to focus on the teacher, but my DD cannot. And she crashed last week – a combination of snow days and weird async schedules, plus changes in her schedule as she went into the third quarter really threw her for a loop. She ended up in gym instead of her science class (remotely of course), didn’t figure it out, then went to the science lab session and didn’t realize she was supposed to be doing a lab. She never thought to ask why she was in a breakout room, and just sat there watching YouTube. So she did not hand in the lab, which in that science class is a Very Big Deal.

    I had just bought her a fancy new Chromebook because the other one was on its last legs. I hadn’t set it up. So I set it up yesterday – with only ONE account, her locked down school account. Mean, mean, mean. Now, she can’t do anything because I have her phone and she can’t watch YouTube or run Discord on the Chromebook. Interestingly, she didn’t complain at all. She loves the new Chromebook which is one of those fancy flip devices with touchscreen, and I also think the week previous had even scared her.

    When I add her personal account back, I will set up the Google family controls first.

    To sum all of this, I think the main reason kids are struggling so much with remote learning isn’t the remote per se, but the fact that they are having so much trouble focusing because of the social media barrage during class.

  34. And just to add to this, it doesn’t matter whether the kids are in school or remote – everyone including the teachers have just given up and no longer try to control their use of social media while in class. To be fair, the teachers can’t because they cannot move around the classroom. I think this is the essential problem and I wonder what will happen with these kids when things go back to normal

  35. My transition to full retirement 7 years ago (DH has been retired for 17! Years now) was the occasion for adjusting to blursday. We dont keep the Sabbath or go to worship, so it is Wednesday (trash collection and housekeeper visit) that is reliably recurring each week for us. And NFL Games five months a year.

    As for sleeping, Covid added an hour to my regular horizontal time. I cannot nap, so I need to get my 7-8 hours at one stretch. Lately I have shifted an hour earlier, lights off at midnight, up at 8. The sleep quality has improved. I do wake up some during the night, but fall right back to sleep. We eat by 6 every evening and need those 5 – 6 hours to be ready to fall asleep. Maybe once a month I am restless and have to go to bed early the next night.

  36. The semester started for me 2 weeks ago, and my anxiety and sense of being overwhelmed has skyrocketed. I feel like everybody wants something now, now, now, and I can’t dig out of it. I am teaching a grad advanced DBMS course which is new and is killing me. I also now have two synchronous remote classes which means I have to redo all my materials which were set up for async. I spent my day in meetings over crap like walking through syllabi for a potential articulation agreement with some school in China. I had to teach a 3 hour Zoom class last night, and then spent 2 more hours trying to research why severall kids couldn’t install the VMs on their machines -hardware issues no doubt but I have to get them set up because otherwise they can’t do the course. We ended up opening cans of soup at 10pm last night.
    And I got email today from a research collaborator in Germany politely wondering why I hadn’t done the validation work I had promised.
    I sleep really good though, because I never get enough. Back to 6am wakeup, yuck.

  37. BUT their Google Classroom is also horribly organized – there is stuff at the top of the “classwork” that was assigned in November or December and like 5 clicks to get through from the classroom to see the actual assignment (and that’s only if it’s in classroom – often there is a whole nother login/password etc. to get into IXL or Classkick or whatever the heck is assigned) so it’s very difficult to see what has actually been assigned and when it is due.

    L, so if you have this much trouble for you to find the assignments and other stuff, it’s just as hard for the kids. I agree with the others – ease off on them. Accept that they are doing their best in a very difficult situation and stop worrying about the grades. It’s middle school, grades don’t matter. Focus on their emotional health. Do whatever they need to maintain their sanity, which will help you maintain yours.

  38. NOB, my nurse friend who gave me the gummies lives in MA, too. I was very hesitant to try them because it’s not really my thing. I had the bottle for a couple of weeks and then I just said what the hell. I took one on a Friday evening figuring I’d have a couple of days to recover in case I had bad reaction. Other than sleeping through the night, I had no reaction. I didn’t feel high. I just slept.

    I was on an anti-depressant for a short period of time during my difficult stretch. It was also supposed to help me sleep but I didn’t like the way it made me feel during the day and my sister, who’s a nurse, kind of scared me when she spoke about the side effects of stopping it abruptly after a prolonged period. As awful as I was feeling at the time, I felt like I could deal with it as long as I had a good night’s sleep. I don’t smoke anything, including weed. I also found that I get sick to my stomach if I’m drinking more than a glass or two of alcohol and then take a gummi, so I don’t mix the two. I wanted something that I could take just when I needed it and I didn’t want to be on a daily med.

    I’m totally honest about it with two docs (gyn and internist). The gyn is fine with it and thinks it’s safer than using an anti-depressant or an Rx sleeping aid (in my case, anyway). The internist is totally against it and was more than willing to give me an Rx for more Xanax or help me look for another anti-depressant.

  39. My husband takes sleep aids but it took a long time to find the right mix. One had digestive side effects and most give him terrible nightmares, flailing screaming ones. I can take nothing other than a pain reliever for headache or muscle pain, if that is interfering with sleep. Products related to marijuana would drive me literally crazy. I dont ever suggest them to others. In the winter, in room humidifier and heated mattress pad on low setting keep things stable for the night. A shot of whiskey can get me to fall asleep, but not stay there, so if I am frazzled at sleep time I just read something boring until I keel over.

  40. “It’s middle school, grades don’t matter. ”
    Unless all the tracking happens in the middle school, as it does with us. Or you are trying to get your kid into a decent public HS in NYC or some other cities because you can’t afford a private HS.

  41. “Did you have issues with side effects?”

    Rhett — No, not at all. When I first went on medication (early 2015), I was prescribed Zoloft, but that was awful for me; I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and I had frequent “electric shock” sensations in my body. My PCP switched me to Citalopram, and I had none of those problems, and the medication was life-changing. The issue was, I think that doctors generally want you to use antidepressants just to get over a difficult stage — they don’t want you to be on them forever because (1) there could be long-term side effects, and (2) your body can get to the point where the meds don’t work any more, so you either need to take more or find something else. After I was on Citalopram for about a year, my PCP encouraged me to try weaning off of it, but I resisted, and she backed off. At the start of 2019, though, I felt like I was ready to try going off. For six months I took a half dose. When that was OK, I went down to a quarter dose for another six months. When that was OK, I went off altogether. And things have been OK until the past couple of months, when the intrusive thoughts and panic have crept back into my life.

    What’s hard for me now is that I don’t know if my current issues are the result of inherent chemical imbalances in my brain, or if they are the result of all the external stress that I’ve been under for the past year (and there has been a whole lot of stress). So I am struggling about whether I should try to stay the course without the meds, and see if things get better once things have (hopefully) settled down a bit this summer, or if I should just go back on the meds and start that process all over again. My PCP did say that she wouldn’t hesitate to re-prescribe the citalopram for me if I thought I needed it.

  42. L – I know it’s a lot to think of now but do reach out to your kids teachers/school administrators. The one thing to find out is whether/when they will start tracking. At my kids school 7th grade, grades are looked at for placement into high school level classes in the 8th grade.
    I learnt that in case of issues, it’s best to communicate otherwise tracking is set. Some schools do allow students to catch up, some don’t.

  43. At one point the MD at the assisted living place wanted to take Mom off her SSRI, and I explained that when she fell completely to pieces and cried and raged and screamed 24×7, I would drop her off at the MD’s house and he could deal with her.

    She stayed on the SSRI.

  44. NoB, some people use meds to get through a difficult period. Other need them lifelong. And most get them tweaked from time to time whether continuous or sporadic. . Also, I believe you are at a hormonally fluctuating age. That is one of the life stages that often does better with medication, and when that settles down you may go off them again. You know that Meds are NOT a sign of weakness and have advocated eloquently for them in this space. And this pandemic is enough of stressor to cut yourself some slack.

  45. Unless all the tracking happens in the middle school, as it does with us. Or you are trying to get your kid into a decent public HS in NYC or some other cities because you can’t afford a private HS.

    I knew you were going to respond to that comment :)

    I’m guessing that the latter doesn’t apply to the L kids, and as for the former, if they are going to hold online grades during a pandemic against the kids, then it’s a really shitty school system anyway. Regardless, the kids’ emotional well-being is much more important than getting on the calculus track.

  46. NoB, my unsolicited advice is to go back on the citalopram.You know it works for you. If you sliced your hand with a knife, you wouldn’t wait to see if it healed on its own, you’d go get stitches.

  47. I can’t stress strongly enough that if your child’s mental health is not in order, it really, really does not matter whether they are on the calculus track. DD is right on target.

    “I’ve been staying up late because the kids are so exhausting that I then need more time to unwind from dealing with them. Then I wake up at 7 to get them up.”

    I am so sorry you are in this situation, L. Have you considered family therapy? There are so many telehealth options now, and your family system as you’ve described it sounds extremely stressful. Perhaps a neutral party could help sort out why your DH insists everyone stay home all the time, even while life begins to open up a bit and school resumes for your kids’ peers. In the past, it has sounded like you do the lions share, if not all, of the childcare in your home, but your DH makes the decisions, and clearly you are exhausted trying to keep everyone happy. I hope y’all will seek some help, because lockdown is clearly affecting your kids. Hugs to you. It sounds so hard and I really feel for you, as I’m sure everyone here does.

  48. First of all, everyone here sems to be assuming that L’s kids are in some kind of emotional crisis. Her original post seems to be describing very much what I see – kids who can’t focus because of Too Many Dang Internet distractions plus a badly organized school portal. In other words, pretty much what I am dealing with too. Why presume that the kids are having emotional issues? I would say try really hard to crack down on the Internet distraction, which besides having an impact on school can also make some kids feel out of control and anxious. That is an issue I am focusing on right now.. And even though it sounds painful, getting into their Classroom accounts and learning how teachers are organizing things can be really helpful Once you get used to it, I bet it won’t take that much time – at least that is what I have found. After doing stuff like that, if the kids are still struggling, then there may be other causes.

    One thing I have learned with DD, who does have an anxiety diagnosis, with a therapist and meds, is that her anxiety really flared this summer when she had little to do, and subsided in the fall when she got busy. She seems so much happier now than in August. Slacking isn’t always the answer to emotional problems.

  49. What Mooshi said.

    I’m wondering if, immediately pre-pandemic, F2F school wasn’t a sort of space for kids, where enforced no phones in class or phones off in class rules created a calm environment for them that, for many kids, the pandemic has taken away. Having all their friends in school at the same time takes away the fear of being left out during school.

    It’d be interesting to see how kids who are in proctored pods have been doing, even if the proctor does nothing directly with instruction. Perhaps just having an adult present to enforce no phones rules is a significant factor.

  50. Back OT, when lockdown first started, one of the immediate impacts for me was better sleep. For much of the prior 17 or so years, I’d been chronically sleep deprived, often getting no more than 3 uninterrupted sleep cycles per night, mainly because of having to wake up early to get kids and DW out the door in time for the kids to catch the bus to get to school on time. I went to more like a minimum of 3 full sleep cycles per night, often a full 4 sleep cycles.

    I’ve hardly used my alarm since the pandemic started, which has been wonderful. I’ll usually wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, which feels so much better than having the alarm wake me partway through. These days I’ll often go to sleep between 1:30 and 2, and wake up 6 hours later, just in time to log in and start working around 8.

  51. Last semester, sleep schedules were somewhat messed up in our home. The kids especially had really weird schedules, with DS having to wake up some days for 3am classes and DD starting classes at 5 or 5:30 most days. And there were a couple weeks when I had classes for work that started at 4am.

    That was one of the main drivers for DD to go back for this semester. Even if he’s spending almost all of his time holed up in an off-campus rental, at least he’s in the same time zone.

    The benefit of that was the time when I’d be up at 1am or so, and one of the kids might be up too, and we’ve have a chance to just talk for a while about all kinds of stuff.

  52. “DH has been retired for 17! Years now”

    Wow. 5! is 120. 17! is an incredibly huge number.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  53. Ugh I am not sleeping well at all these days and am having anxiety dreams. For awhile there, like Fred, I was getting more sleep because I didn’t have to commute. I miss those days.

  54. Mooshi, yes, exactly. I find that the kids are much more self-regulated and pleasant to be around when there are fewer internet distractions!

  55. Since December DD2 was basically in a proctored class. The school, not open for classes, was open for child care. So DD2 was in a class with 5-10 other kids all on their chromebooks in class. While this set up helped with her socialization, it did nothing in regards to academics. She was always distracted with anything and everything that was not involving a lesson taught in on google meet. Youtube was a a huge pull during the day. The staff was there to help with IT issues, simple questions on work, as well extra activities liking baking projects and making slime.

    Day two of in person school and she is loving being in a classroom with her teacher, who is teaching to her face and going around the class to help and interact.

  56. My kids school though in person mostly had a stretch when the kids were remote on and off for two weeks. There was an email sent to all parents to make sure their kids at home had no phone access while learning remotely, turned on their cameras and most of all turned all their work in. My point is many kids can’t manage to complete their work like a grownup who is working from home.

  57. I have the same middle of the night problems several of you have described. One of the things that has helped me with that is listening to audiobooks as I fall asleep. The Libby app has a sleep timer on it so I said that and just pull out the earphones whenever I noticed them later. I find it when I do wake up during the middle of the night my mind is not racing with all of my worries like it used to.

    Someone else mentioned recent anxieties, and I have had that problem in the last two weeks as well. I’ve never in my life been an anxious person and have actually been quite the opposite. I don’t really know how to deal with it. For the last two nights I’ve taken CBD gummies with my melatonin before bed and they’ve been enough to help me fall asleep.

    I’m so scattered when I’m sleep deprived and can be surprised by my emotional reactions to things, so really hate to go a couple of days without enough sleep. I wish you guys luck in dealing with it.

  58. Louise, your school should understand that “no phone access” isn’t good enough. If the kid is on a computer or chromebook, they can just run Discord/Instagram/YouTube/Snapchat in browser tabs of via Chrome apps.
    In school, they can force the kids to use their locked down wifi, but it is a lot harder to do that at home.

  59. “Day two of in person school and she is loving being in a classroom with her teacher, who is teaching to her face and going around the class to help and interact.”
    That is the problem here – the teachers have to also teach all the remote kids at the same time as the live kids so they are tethered to their webcams up front. And thus they cannot monitor for phones

  60. My older daughter will be hybrid starting next week, so the teachers will still be teaching to webcams….but, at dinner tonight she told us she can’t wait to back to hybrid so she can “peruse the library.” She doesn’t seem to mind how the class is taught, it is all about the library.

  61. I want to add that many of us had help with the household in the form of cleaning services or child care. During the pandemic that has been disrupted. In my own house having help in the form of a cleaning crew has freed up my time (they also clean faster that I do). So, though I took on different tasks in the pandemic (more grocery shopping), cleaning is the one thing I gave up. It led to a lot of less stress in our house. Just looking at and re-evaluating how we are running the house will help with decreasing the stress.

  62. “My point is many kids can’t manage to complete their work like a grownup who is working from home.”

    It’s not easy for a lot of grownups either!

  63. “She doesn’t seem to mind how the class is taught, it is all about the library.”

    A girl after my own heart!

  64. I have the middle of the night wake up issues. I use the calm app for sleep stories. I have never made it to the end of one. They seem to be a bit heavy on british accents and train stories that are sufficiently boring while still pleasant.

  65. I do like the Headspace sleep wind downs, but I really only use them if I also need the noise cancelling or sometimes if I am taking a nap. I don’t like falling asleep for the night with my ear buds in.

Comments are closed.