I’ve struggled this week.
You can say it too. I promise I won’t judge you.
I’m a mom with anxiety, and one of my biggest triggers is being in uncertain situations. And, well, COVID-19 certainly qualifies as causing uncertainty. Yet despite my anxiety I wanted to go into these self-quarantining times with a positive attitude. I have a four-year-old son, after all, and I don’t want my anxiety rubbing off on him. So, for a whole day, I let those color-coded homeschooling schedules flying around on social media affect me. I would have structure. I would be productive. I wouldn’t let a quarantine bring me down. I would write. I would read. I would teach. I am woman. Here me roar!
I roared for exactly one day, and then I woke up the next day with a tightness in my chest. It was a familiar feeling; my gloom-and-doom anxiety was setting in. Between the incessant news updates and the unanswered questions about what life would look like in the coming months, I felt unmotivated and like I was sinking. And it was only Day Two.
But the day still called, as it always does. My son still woke me up at 6:30 in the morning, his face in mine, smiling. I forced my legs out of bed. I carried on, as all of us moms do.
News stories lit up my phone screen – something not uncommon for the few weeks. More closures. More uncertainty. More really tough news to digest.
And I thought to myself: I am a mom raising a kid during really precarious times. It’s scary for all of us out there. Why am I expecting myself to act normally? These aren’t normal times. These are anxious times.
So, yes, I’m struggling, but that doesn’t mean I’m failing.
Instead of sinking deep into the thickness of my thoughts, I decided to make some small changes to my day that have helped me beat my anxiety this past week – and hopefully in the weeks to come.
Here are the actions I take that help me keep my sanity as a mom stuck at home during these unprecedented, uncertain times.
1. Make a to-do list with your kids – not a schedule.
My very favorite teacher friend, Ashley, gave me this amazing tip and it’s a game changer. With a to-do list, there is NO PRESSURE to stick to a rigid schedule. If I see my son’s mood slipping into oblivion, I switch it up with what
works for us in that moment. Also, my son loves to add to and (kind of) write the list himself. He feels like he’s partially in charge of his day and loves checking off an item.
2. Go outside at least twice a day.
This can be a walk around the neighborhood or simply sitting on a chair and staring mindlessly up at the clouds. Fresh air does wonders for the mood. Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious, I just take whatever activity my son is doing and transfer it outside. Books, dinosaurs and board games all transfer really well to a back patio or front porch!
3. Make a (virtual) connection with one (positive) person a day.
I love sending a quick text to a friend who I know will lift my mood with a good meme or change my perspective if I’m feeling low.
4. Shoot for a rollercoaster day.
(And I don’t mean emotionally!) When I think about my day with my son at home (all those many, many hours), it’s unrealistic to think I’m going to engage him in activities all day long. That would be like being at the top of a roller coaster for the entire ride – it’s just too much. So what I try to do is build our day with high-engagement activities and then low-key activities, and then continue that pattern for the whole day. The activities vary, but high-engagement activities mean that my phone is down and I’m connecting with my son and low-key activities are quiet things my son can do without my constant guidance. During low-key activities, I use this time to unwind – and yes, sometimes that does mean scrolling Instagram guilt-free.
5. Figure out your priorities and make those happen.
What’s important to you? For me, it’s important that I engage meaningfully with my son each day (and that can mean making our living room into a movie theater and watching Frozen 2 for the third time this week), moving a personal goal of mine forward (like writing this post that you’re reading right now) and doing something meaningful for the family (such as providing a sense of normalcy by cooking a favorite dinner recipe). If I can check off those three things, then I can let a lot of the other stuff go, such as the pile of laundry sitting on the couch or the fact that I just couldn’t make that DIY art project come together for my son today. Prioritize your top three tasks and focus on those – everything else you get done is just gravy.
Take a walk. Stetch. Do yoga. Find your favorite YouTube workout and go for it. There is a plethora of resources out there – especially in our current global situation – to help you get moving. You can get your kid moving too! My son loves to think he’s stretching with me and pulls out my extra yoga mat to join in. It’ll put both you and your kid in a better mood!
7. Acceptance will take you a long way.
Like I said earlier, these are not normal times, so don’t expect yourself to work at full capacity. Accept what you can’t control – like all of our current quarantine lifestyles. You’re going to have great days when your kids seem like complete angels and then days when they…don’t seem like complete angels. And that’s okay.
8. Above all – breath.
Taking three deep breaths and tell yourself that you’ve got this. Because you do.
So, yeah. Some days I struggle. But I’m not failing. We’re not failing. We’re making it work. Because that’s what moms do.
Remember, your OMC community is always here to support you! If you have a way to reduce stress and anxiety, leave a comment below. We want to hear from you!
by Laurie Crocker