If you’re like me (and millions of other moms), you’ve been cooped up with your kids for the last few weeks.
I am also guessing many of you are working while trying to juggle kids’ homework, keeping up with chores, planning and preparing meals, snacks (how many already today?), entertainment, trying to be “productive” or creative, and making sure the kids aren’t fighting too much, getting too much TV, eating too much candy … it’s a lot. Actually — it is too much, and literally impossible to do it all.
Yet, the pressure is certainly there. The following are five simple suggestions or encouragements to help you, and your kids, get through these days with a bit more ease.
Be kind. We can be especially hard on ourselves, can’t we? I encourage you to truly be gentle, forgiving and kind to yourself. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and know you are doing the best you can in any moment. Even when you are doing nothing, can’t get out of bed, or are not communicating the best — it’s OK. Recognize any fault you may have, and give space to try again, free from judgment. Write your own mantra on a little note and stick it somewhere you frequent.
Keep strong boundaries. This goes for all aspects of your life. If you normally work 9-5 on Tuesday and Thursdays, keep those same hours. Stop checking emails in the evening and don’t take work calls after your designated time. Keep strong boundaries with your relationships too. The kids can wait until you are finished with (insert task) for their snack, story time or help with homework. Just communicate with them kindly. Same goes for spouses and partners. Boundaries = communication.
Forget “normal rules.” Typically, we all have rules like no TV on school days, certain bedtimes, or days for baths. I encourage you to be just a little bit flexible with your own rules. Working from home may require more TV for the kids than you normally would allow. Perhaps you can allow your daughter to draw just a little longer at bedtime since you don’t have to get her to school by 8 a.m. Some days everyone may just stay in their pajamas—and that’s perfectly OK.
Follow a rhythm. Rhythm is a gentle, more flexible word for routine. Find a rhythm that works for everyone. This requires some attunement to what your needs are as well as your kids’ (see boundaries above). While we all need more flexibility, I also encourage you to keep a basic rhythm to your days. Know what you need and enjoy and help your children to do the same.
Connect. Connect with nature, with colleagues, with spouses/partners, with family, with your children and with friends. We thrive on connection — even us introverts. Use this slower, more flexible time to get outside. I strongly encourage you to plant your bare feet on the grass, face the sun and listen to the birds and wind. Furthermore, start your garden. Finally, find special moments to share quality time with your family — perhaps an online yoga class, a puzzle or game, reading poetry together, or a baking project. FaceTime or Zoom with family members or make a phone call to grandma. Set up a time to have a virtual “get together” with your girlfriends.
If you find that you are struggling, please reach out to someone you trust or reach out to JFS to schedule a virtual session with a therapist. Reach us at 414-225-1374 or Clinic@JfsMilw.org.
Psychotherapist Dawn Giorno specializes in perinatal mood disorders and motherhood.