If you’re like me, these last few weeks have had a lot of ups and downs. I stopped working three weeks ago when the major retailer I work for decided to close their stores. Thankfully, they are still paying all of us, so that’s one major headache that I haven’t had to encounter. But the stress, anxiety, and worry that came along with stay-at-home orders, rising COVID-19 numbers, and working from home were all there.
We have 3 kids at home – a 6-year-old, a 2-year-old, and an 8-month-old. The 6 year old in in kindergarten, so when schools shut down, teaching from home became our new normal. I still breastfeed my 8-month-old which means that he is tied to my hip about 10 out of the 24 hours of the day (aka the entire time he’s awake). The 2-year-old is independent and needy all at the same time. She is so strong-willed and she’s also my allergy kiddo. She’s also potty training. My house is chaotic. Just the three of them cooped up in the house creates some stress. But the things outside the house create even more.
Will my family stay safe through this pandemic? Am I making the right choices to help keep them safe? Am I doing enough to disinfect everything that we have delivered? Am I being over the top if I wipe down every single thing that enters our house? Am I not being protective enough if I don’t wipe every single thing down or leave it in the garage for days as I keep seeing people suggest? What provides less risk – having our groceries delivered by a stranger or having my husband run out to grab what we need? Will the store have all of the allergy-friendly foods that my daughter desperately needs? When will I go back to work? Will my daughter get to finish her first year of school in her actual school building or will we be finishing the school year at home? Did I just hear someone sneeze? What does that mean? Where is my thermometer? Am I paying enough attention to the kids and providing them with enough activities to keep them entertained? Am I taking care of myself during this and giving myself the breaks I need? Am I still being a good wife to my husband? How did I forget to add that to my grocery list? Am I a good enough mom to survive this?
These questions and others like it have been running through my head constantly these last few weeks. I struggle with anxiety as it is, so this pandemic has only amplified that. I really thought I was doing well until I realized that my old friend insomnia had come back for a visit. Suddenly I was having a hard time falling asleep and sometimes an even harder time staying asleep (although my 8-month-old doesn’t really help that! haha!). I had to re-frame my thoughts – and fast – if I wanted to come out of this pandemic with all of my hair.
The truth is, there are a lot of things I can’t control right now. That’s where anxiety stems from – the unseen. But the other truth is that there are still things I can control. There are things we can all do to stay positive. I can choose joy. Here are some of the things that I’ve been making myself do. Hopefully they will help you too!
- Focus on the time you get to spend with your family.
- This time is invaluable. Outside of maternity leave, I have NEVER gotten this much time to spend with my kids or my husband. As a working mom, I feel like I’m constantly missing things. But in these last 3 weeks, I have put my kids to bed every single night. I’ve been there when they woke up every morning. I’ve eaten dinner with them nightly. I’ve played with them, read to them, cooked for them, and cuddled with them. I’ve been there. And that is enough!
- Go back to the basics.
- The other night we had one of the most fun moments I think we’ve ever had as a family. My husband lit the fire pit, we roasted marshmallows, and then we played a good ole’ fashioned game of tag. The laughter of my two girls and the deep, winded breaths of my husband and me did so much good for my soul. It was so simple. All we were doing was running around our yard looking like crazy people. But it was so much fun. Kids don’t need elaborate games for playtime. They don’t need your latest find on Pinterest (although those can be totally fun too!). They just need you to be there with them and show them attention. That moment playing tag was a great wake up call for me. It will forever be a favorite memory of mine. And my goal is to make sure that moments like this don’t stop once all of this is over and we go back to “normal”.
- Look for the helpers.
- As the great Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” I’m telling you guys, they are everywhere! Seek out the good stories. Seek out the people that show you that good still exists in this world. Share those stories with others. We all need them!
- Be a helper!
- Nothing brings more joy than sharing kindness with others. People are struggling right now – financially, mentally, and emotionally. There are always ways that we can help. It could be monetary, but it doesn’t have to be. Send a letter. Send a text. Pick up the phone. FaceTime someone. Have your kids draw pictures to send to family and friends. Bless someone if you have the opportunity.
- Remind yourself that this is temporary.
- This won’t last forever. Give yourself some grace right now. We are in uncharted territory. None of us really prepared for this. But we will get through it!
How are you surviving all of this? Are you staying positive? Let me know what you’ve been doing to stay in a positive state of mind!