It has been quite the year for parents out there, and moms are feeling the strain. Being a mom has always been a balancing act, whether you stay at home with the kids, work from home, or work outside the home.
Lately, many of us have been feeling a little wobbly, and some of us feel like we are about to fall right off the beam. Whatever your situation is, there are ways to keep a grip on your sanity despite all the craziness that we have experienced with COVID-19, layoffs, and school shutdowns. Life may look different, but our role as mothers hasn’t changed.
We still are the glue that keeps everything together, the person who puts our families’ safety before our own needs and brings calm amidst the storm. I know my kids have felt the struggle with school being closed and then opening in a way that felt anything but normal. My husband is stressed about work and when we can go back to normal.
But one thing I learned early in this pandemic is that maybe normal was overrated. My three biggest takeaways for staying sane were, don’t sweat the small stuff, take care of yourself, and make every decision from a place of love.
“The wisdom of insecurity.’ This is the ability to flow with the changes, to see everything as a process of change, to relax with uncertainty.” ― Jack Kornfield
Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff
I was furloughed from my full-time job in late March, right around the time that schools closed. My husband was suddenly remoting into work from the house, as we were under a state-mandated shelter in place order. Every one of my family members was sweating all of their own “small stuff.”
My teenager wanted to know what this meant for dance season and competitions. Her once active social life was now nonexistent. My 11-year-old son didn’t know how he would spend his entire day if we only allowed him to play video games for two hours and not play with his friends.
My husband wasn’t sure what working from home with all of us in here would be like, or how virtual meetings would work. We were both stressed about my lost income, but thankfully, I got on unemployment. I had also been writing on the side for nearly six months and could start doing that much more. I wondered whether I could write full time and not return to work. There were a lot of worries, anxiety, and unanswered questions.
After the first week of running around like crazy people, I took a deep breath and calmed down. I let my teenager spend more time Facetiming with her friends. I let my son spend a little longer on the video games as long as he finished his assignments and had read for thirty minutes. My husband settled into working from home, and we all developed a schedule.
Instead of deciding what I wanted to do about work, I just focused on my writing and getting more clients, and doing more work. I realized I didn’t have to have everything figured out right now, and neither do you.
We started going for a daily walk around the lake as a family. Movie night, every night, without fail, became a new ritual. We all snuggled (even the teenager) on the couch and drew movie picks out of a hat. The groceries got delivered, dinners got made, and we reconnected.
All the other noise will figure itself out, focus on what is most important, and the decisions will become easier to make.
“Our disappointment comes about in essentially two ways. When we’re experiencing pleasure, we want it to last forever. It never does. Or when we’re experiencing pain, we want it to go away—now. It usually doesn’t. Unhappiness is the result of struggling against the natural flow of experience.” — Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Take care of yourself
Moms really do need to find ways to take care of themselves. The saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” is true. This is the same reason why the airline staff tells you to put your mask on first before helping those who require your assistance. If you pass out, and they can’t do it on their own, then you are both doomed.
Self-care does not mean that you get to shower today. I know this seems like a major accomplishment some days, especially if you have little kids, and if you were really only able to get that done today, then be proud.
But if you had some extra minutes, and you folded laundry instead of reading a book, or taking a nap, or walking on the treadmill, just know the laundry can wait. Your health and well-being can not.
If you need more help, let someone know. You do not have to go on this journey alone. Check out this article on why self-care does not make you selfish. It is even more important now when things around us are chaotic.
What does self-care look like for a busy mom? Kaiser Permanente offers these excellent suggestions on what self-care looks like when you are struggling to do all the things that must be done in a day:
- Physical activity is key! Getting your blood pumping and getting outside is a great way to feel refreshed.
- Boost your brain. Try writing in a journal or meditating for a few minutes.
- Pamper yourself. Fine, I guess you could count that shower here, but Kaiser Permanente recommends a relaxing bath instead.
- Hone your skills. Spend a little time working on the things you like and are good at.
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” — Mandy Hale
Make every decision from a place of love
If you can view the decisions you make for yourself and your family through the lens of love, everything will seem just a little clear. Are you working crazy hours because you love your family and need to provide for them? Great, then you are making the right choice.
Are you staying home with your family and sacrificing income that would make life easier, because you love them? Great, then you are making the right choice. There is no wrong answer if you decide something based on the love you have for yourself and those you hold dear.
According to lifestyle coach, Kelly Weiss, “Making decisions from love and inner-knowing on the other hand, allows us to live more deep and fulfilling lives full of abundance and joy.” Just how do you do that? Use your intuition and trust your gut. Try not to decide anything based on something you are afraid of.
I knew writing full time was the answer, but I was afraid to quit before the pandemic because “it was a steady income and I had great insurance.” My therapist gave me some brilliant advice. She said, “Stop focusing on what you are afraid of losing, and think about what you will gain from this decision.”
I was also listening to a lot of other’s people’s opinions instead of trusting my gut or even using logic. Logic is a wonderful tool, but you can’t think of every variable. You will eventually have to decide, so always go with what serves your vision for your life.
“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”― Michelle Obama
Sanity is fragile, but if you can remind yourself that whatever seems like an enormous problem right at this moment won’t matter six months from now, then you choose how to handle it in the best way.
Taking care of yourself, so that you are healthy and rested, will keep you sharp and better enable you to handle the stresses that come your way. Not letting fear dictate the choices you make will also free up a lot of space in your brain, giving sanity just a little more real estate.
What has been the most stressful part of the year for you? How have you managed to stay sane despite it all? What does self-care look like for you? Did you make a big decision this year, that came from a place of love and not fear? We want to know so, share your thoughts and tips in the comment section below.