One thing that makes parenting hard is understanding that children express certain emotions–fear, anxiety–in ways that don't look recognizable to adults. Without the emotional maturity to understand their fear, they can't simply state, "I feel scared." The self-awareness just isn't there yet.
With our kids, these "big feelings" come out as bickering, overly loud play, roughhousing, and sometimes hitting each other. Directed at their parents, it becomes frustration, an inability to self-direct, anger.
When I'm okay, I can spot this behavior and understand it. We can sit and have a conversation and figure out what's going on. But when everyone is on edge (not to mention mentally exhausted), it's harder to be present enough to break the problem down and assess it in helpful ways.
Translation: everyone's arguing a bunch and the kids keep breaking down into crying fits.
We're trying hard to explain what's going on without scaring them, but two days into this, they're worked up and confused. My oldest is concerned about her daily routine being upset. She's a creature of habit the likes of which I've never met. Any sudden change to the day-to-day can send her off the deep end.
Our new normal, a daily routine my wife and I concocted, goes into effect tomorrow. I'm hoping that provides some relief as we settle into a predictable routine. We've explained it to the kids, and they seem on board.
Today, though, we're focusing on more cooking. Pinto beans, four quarts of chicken broth, and I made a dozen scones that'll feed us for three breakfasts. I might makes some cookies just because. The house smells amazing.