Sharing the Weight of Pandemic Exhaustion | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Sharing the Weight of Pandemic Exhaustion 

Published March 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated April 6, 2022 at 9:24 a.m.

click to enlarge ELISA JÄRNEFELT
  • Elisa Järnefelt

The first weeks of the pandemic reminded me of the first weeks with our daughter. She was born a bit early, and we had lots of trouble figuring out breastfeeding. Consequently, I ended up staying at home for several weeks. The time with a newborn was isolating and difficult, but eventually I walked out of the house to greet the world with my baby.

So, when the isolation began in March 2020, it felt in some ways familiar. Trying to be positive, I told myself that I was mentally prepared.

Then the weeks multiplied, and I slowly came to terms with the fact that this was not like anything I'd experienced before. But every day, I still kept trying to come up with optimistic angles. I understood that, in many ways, my family had it easier than many other families. To say that we were having a hard time felt somehow inconsiderate in the grand scheme of things. As the weeks have turned into months, there have been days when the optimism has turned into exhaustion.

A year into our isolation, I have learned that I do not always have to find something encouraging about this experience. On days when I feel worn out, I have learned to rely on the person who is next to me — my husband. One day it might be him telling me something encouraging, and I just listen. The next day, I might be the one who has more energy to bring in the light. 

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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About The Author

Elisa Järnefelt

Elisa Järnefelt

Elisa Järnefelt is a South Burlington-based illustrator and writer originally from Finland. She enjoys telling complex stories with seemingly simple drawings. Her illustrated column about parenthood appears monthly in Kids VT. You can see more of her drawings at


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