How To Make Self-Care Easy for Moms

I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.

self care for moms

If you’re a mom or mom-to-be, I’m willing to bet that “self care” can be… a bit of a touchy subject.

Here’s my take: self-care is important, yes, but our approach has to be more down-to-earth so that self care becomes realistic (not just another source of stress).

As a mental health therapist, I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.

Let’s break this down…

What stops moms from practicing self care?

Your schedule is fully booked!

In my experience, I see that timing is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of moms weaving proper self care into their lives.

Moms can’t find the time when it feels like a huge extra task on the to-do list. Self care can feel like another thing to stuff into an already full-to-the-brim day.

For moms struggling to find their groove in early motherhood, taking care of yourself feels like another thing you have to do. When you neglect it, it feels like another thing you’re NOT doing—and that can bring you down.

So many of us see the day slip by without taking a moment for ourselves.

Guilt.

Mom guilt has a tendency to rain on your parade and it certainly makes no exceptions for self care.

I’m going to say it loud and clear: taking care of your needs is not selfish. Taking time for yourself is not luxurious. Self care is not frivolous.

When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to become the mom you want to be. When you look after your needs, your partner benefits, your kids benefit. Everyone wins!

If this is something you’re struggling with because self care feels over-the-top, understand that you’ve been programmed to think that way. It’s not your fault that this is hard for you but I’m here to flip the script.

You matter so much. Your well-being affects others. You deserve your own attention, love and energy.

So, how should we define realistic self care? 

Making self care easy for moms is about simplifying what the concept means to begin with. I want to help you believe that self-care is realistic otherwise it’s never going to happen.

So what is self care, really?

This is your ability to meet your needs in all the different aspects of your life. We’re talking emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs.

If we want to feel joy and ease, we must address our own needs so that we have the capacity to welcome those positive experiences. When we think of self care this way, we can understand that this isn’t something you only do when your kids are asleep or with the sitter.

So how can we start our realistic approach to taking proper care of ourselves? I’ve broken it down to three main parts.

Your Body

When thinking about self care for your body, think about all of your physical needs. You need proper nutrition, hydration, rest, comfort. You need some kind of exercise or movement (ideally every day, if you can).

When considering how to care for your body, ask yourself if there’s things you do for your kids that you neglect to do for yourself? I notice that moms often go to great lengths to prepare healthy meals for their kids, for example, but their own meals are a bit of an afterthought. And honestly, I’ve been there too, snacking on the kids leftovers. But why do we do this? What if you could also consider your own nutritional needs, for example? What impact would that have on you?

You might even ask yourself in this moment: what are some easy ways that I could take better care of my physical self? Jot a few ideas down, and remember, keep it super simple!

Your Mind

Taking care of your mind means making sure that your emotional and intellectual needs are met.

On the intellectual side, notice that you’re allowed to keep investing in your interests. You as a human being have the need to learn and grow! Being a mom shouldn’t put a stop to that. So what interests have you put aside? Anything you’ve been curious about? Any new hobbies you’d like to explore?

On the emotional side, it can be really helpful to check in with yourself daily by simply asking: “How am I doing? Where am I at?”

Notice what comes up when you ask that question. Listening to yourself is self care. Remember that.

And if you discover some emotions that are harder to sit with on your own, it might be a good time to reach out to a friend or a professional to support you.

Your Environment

Have you ever felt stressed out and then gone on a cleaning rampage and felt so much better afterwards?

Or maybe you redecorated your living room mantle, hung a couple pictures or bought a new house plant and suddenly your mood improved? Well, that’s no coincidence! Your surroundings influence your mood.

Think about the area in your home where you spend most of your time. Is there anything about that space that you need to change that would be a helpful gesture for yourself?

Think about what’s important to you, specifically (because we’re all different here!). Some people need a spotlessly clean room. Others need plants and natural elements in their personal space. Whether your thing is essential oils or candles isn’t what’s important. And it’s NOT about redecorating your whole house either.

What you’re aiming to do here is notice how your space affects you and then doing something small to bring comfort.

So, what ideas do you have? Is there something ease, free, and fun that you could do to revive your immediate surroundings?

 


 

I hope I’ve made self care less complicated and more realistic for you! Really, the goal is to simplify this concept so that meeting your own personal needs becomes less stressful and less of a burden on your already-busy life.

So what’s one thing that you’re going to do for self-care today? I’d love to know in comments below!

 

Confession: I was so desperate for a mom friend; when I spotted my future bestie at the park, I pounced.

It was at a crucial point in my life as a new mom and I needed a friend who understood me. I really needed the kind of friend who’s in the weeds too, who knows the struggle, who understands the same joy. I needed a friend who could listen without judgement.

mom friend

I saw her from a distance and within a split-second, operation “befriend” was already on.

Though she was completely oblivious, I knew right away that this woman was going to be my new Best Mom-Friend. I was determined to make it happen—almost competitively so.

Though we had never met, I had all the information I needed: we both looked equally pregnant, equally frazzled and as she wrangled her toddler, I instantly recognized that sleep-deprived state I had come to know all too well.

She didn’t know we were about to become BFFs yet, but that minor detail didn’t matter to me. There she was in her super cute maxi dress… little did she know of the lifelong plans I was already cooking up. As far as I was concerned, the fact that we were at the SAME park at the SAME time, was pretty much a clear sign from the universe.

I mean, meant to be… right?

As I write this now, I feel a pang of embarrassment. I recognize in retrospect that I frequented the park with a desperation for new friends like a child on his first day of school. Truthfully, I WAS desperate for a mom friend. I saw her and I wanted to scream “HEY, PICK ME!!”

It was at a crucial point in my life as a new mom and I needed a friend who understood me. I really needed someone who was in the weeds with me, who knows the struggle, who understands the same joy. I needed a friend who could listen without judgement when I say “I hate being pregnant,” “My toddler is a monster!” or “My husband makes me insane,” knowing full well that I don’t mean it and didn’t need to clarify.

I needed a Best Mom-Friend who got me. Who saw me. 

And I wonder if what we truly need in a friendship is a mirror of our own experience.

Is it about seizing the opportunity to give love and compassion to someone who’s struggling in the same way as we are? Could that be because giving ourselves that love and compassion is too hard sometimes?

I needed someone who could see through the same lens as the one I was looking through—that lens that only a mom who’s in the same season of motherhood can really appreciate. I needed my Best Mom-Friend to be along for the same ride with me and to experience the same highs and the same lows. We’d “get” each other without having to explain ourselves, over-articulate or fill in the gaps. Together we’d crawl through the same minefield of expectations, disappointments, mistakes and pain. We’d emerge together at the other end and share our joy with one-another. We’d celebrate the wins, the major milestones. We’d support each other and be honest about those darker moments that society expects us to conceal.

I know now that this type of friendships during the early days of motherhood is a lifeline. It really is. As I acknowledge that, I become covered in goosebumps.

Yeah, my hunt for my amazing Best Mom Friend was a little embarrassing. I mean, I was ADAMANT that day in the park.

And you know what? As I reflect on that, I now see that it’s OK to need each other. It’s OK to want a close friend whose life has parallels to your own. It’s OK to long for validation in your experiences. It’s also OK to be vulnerable as you reach out for friendship as an adult. (Even if you feel a little desperate…)

As adults, that’s not something most of us are used to doing. It’s OK if it’s easier to be compassionate and understanding towards a friend when it’s a struggle to do the same for yourself. It’s a two-way street and she’ll probably do the same for you.

It has been six years since I spotted my toddler-toting, baby-bumped best friend. The postpartum haze wore off yet she continued to be that life-line for me—even more so than I expected.  I needed her then and we still need one another now.

Good thing I followed my instincts.

How To Deal With Mom Burnout (tips from a Therapist)

Burnout happens to the best of us. We tend to think that if we can just get x,y, and z done, we’ll feel better. What you actually need to do is take a breath, slow down, and let go.

WANT TO WATCH THE VIDEO? SCROLL DOWN!

“Burnout” might seem a little like a buzzword these days but if you’re a mom tending to the needs of young children (during a pandemic no less!), you know that its effects are real.

Burnout is that feeling of complete emotional and physical exhaustion. It’s that sense that you’re running on empty and have nothing left in the tank. You might feel like your mothering responsibilities are mounting up with no end in sight. Whatever the case may be, I’m going to teach you how to recognize burnout and then walk you through some non-overwhelming steps to fix it.

 

How to Recognize Burnout

If you’ve been feeling stressed to the max and endlessly spread thin, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re experiencing burnout.

You might notice an overall sense of feeling like you have just nothing left to give. Feeling like you just can’t catch up, like you never feel rested or grounded or like you’re overwhelmed by the responsibilities on your list are all indicators that it’s time to slow down.

Some mothers notice that they’re irritable or impatient with their partner or their children. Oftentimes, they explain that they’re not experiencing much joy anymore.

Others feel more emotional than usual and get weepy eyed easily. All of these are great signs that you’re depleted. I mean hey, being a mom is tough. Your kids need a lot!

I think it’s also important to acknowledge that your day-to-day flow of life can be stressful—there are going to be times when your energy levels run low.

Noticing The Shame

As a mental health therapist for moms and moms-to-be, I see women experiencing so much shame and guilt. That overwhelmed and run-off-your-feet feeling is bad enough. Add in a heavy dose of shame and we make matters infinitely worse.

I know you have an idea of how you want to be as a mother. I know you have expectations for how you should act towards your kids. When you’re burnt out, it’s so hard to show up the way you want to. It’s hard to be supermom and act perfectly towards your children all the time.

You don’t always act your best when every little demand feels like an attack on your system. And that’s OK!  I want you to notice when that shame sneaks in (telling you you’re not doing a good enough job).

Instead, what if there could be times in life when “average” is enough? What if you can’t meet all your expectations all the time? Could that be okay?

Energy in Versus Energy Out

Take quick stock: how much energy is flowing in and how much of your energy is flowing out?

If you’re burnout, that ratio will be totally out of whack.

Actually, there’s a good chance that you don’t have any energy flowing in at all! You know that saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? That metaphor is really speaking to the same thing here – being completed depleted and having nothing left to give!

When you’re depleted, exhausted and fried, you do not have any of your personal resources left to give to others. OK, so what the heck do we do about that?

A Three-Step Guide to Managing Burnout: 

Sure, burnout is quite common among mums of young kids. The good news is that it’s also treatable. And no, I’m not about to give you annoying, non-realistic advice.

I’m a mother of two young kids too so I know that carving out alone time sometimes isn’t possible and that a bubble bath isn’t exactly going to fix your woes.

Here’s what will:

1.Notice what’s going on for yourself.

As a mom you’re in tune to your kids’ and your partner’s needs, schedules, emotions, etc. There’s a lot of attention going outward without much care going inward.

Stop for a minute and take stock of how YOU feel. What happens when you’re overwhelmed? How does your body feel? Notice the ways your mood changes. Some people might feel irritable or snarky whereas others might feel sad and low. Pay attention to the conversations you’re having with yourself too. What’s your inner dialogue right now?

What do you feel like doing? Some people want to stay in bed, others get angry and some moms just want to check out or distract themselves. Understanding the ways you specifically experience burnout is the first step.

2.Ask yourself: “What can I remove?”

A great action to take is to evaluate your calendar and decide which things you need to say no to or cancel completely. When you’re feeling depleted, it’s absolutely essential to clear some space. By freeing up your schedule, you’re ensuring that you’re no longer going to be operating in such a frantic mode.

Trust me on this one—it’s important!

You can also let go of expectations.

OK, I’m not suggesting you drop your expectations forever or that you give up on the things that you care about. No. What I’m advising is temporarily lowering expectations during this phase.

Since you’re not going to be operating at your normal level (it’s just not realistic), it’s incredibly smart to lower the bar. Self compassion is meeting yourself where you’re at. Take those expectations down for now to allow yourself room to bounce back.

When you drop your expectations a little bit, you meet them more easily. That feels good! That’s motivating! Pick the most important things and focus on just those, and see if you can let some of the other things go.

3.Now add something to your life that’s just for you

Going back to that energy-in-versus-energy-out point, you want to bring something back in.

Is there anything that you can add that you as a mom enjoy? Are you currently doing anything for yourself? If you’re not doing much for yourself at the moment, that’s OK.

During this time, figure out what you’re missing. Give yourself something small that will bring joy to your day. Make it super simple and easy. For example, play your music, not your kids’ or partner’s. Or, clean a small space in your home and spend a few minutes there.

I like to get outside for five minutes to feel the sunshine on my face. In the mornings, I take time to drink my coffee HOT. Commit to something small that’s going to give you a little bit more ease.

 

I’m going to leave you with one final thought. Burnout is normal and it happens to the best of us. It can be so tempting to try to push, push, push. We tend to think that if we can just get x,y and z done, we’ll feel better.

What you actually need to do is take a breath, slow down, and let go.

Pandemic confession: I had a meltdown over disorganized toy storage bins

I had been searching Pinterest for toy storage ideas, scouring Facebook marketplace for some kind of savvy solution, and sorting the freaking Playmobil on repeat, only to find Santa’s Workshop mixed in with the Princess Castle. Again.

You know those moments when you react with just a little too much oomph?? Where your behaviour doesn’t really match the situation?

Yeah. I did that on Saturday.

My husband and I were getting ready for a nice little couples’ at-home workout in the basement. The kids (four and six  years old) were playing in the playroom beside us, when my husband asked them to tidy up and “put all the Playmobil in the proper bins.”

It sounds like a harmless request, right?

He was trying to be helpful.  After all, we’re teaching them to clean up after themselves.

But “proper” bins???? I could feel my frustration starting to boil until I snapped…

“What proper bins? We don’t HAVE proper bins? There’s no system! How could you ask THEM to do that?? We can’t even do that! It’s such a mess, and WE couldn’t even organize this chaos, let alone expect them to figure it out! And are you JUST NOW realizing this is an issue? Like, have you not thought about that before??…. “

It was such an innocent comment. He was just trying to help. But I couldn’t stop…

He put his hands up as if to say “whoa, back off lady!”  But his seemingly-sudden awareness of an issue that I was stewing about for weeks (maybe months) triggered me and amplified my sense of overwhelm. I had been searching Pinterest for toy storage ideas, scouring Facebook marketplace for some kind of savvy solution, and sorting the freaking Playmobil on repeat, only to find Santa’s Workshop mixed in with the Princess Castle. Again.… (A total crisis, you know??)

And really, if only the “proper bins” was enough to pull me out of the pandemic-driven burnout that so many parents are stuck in right now, we’d be in pretty good shape. But I know it’s not that simple.

You know when you flip your lid from something like a messy playroom, that it’s not really about the playroom, right?

It was about burnout.

Feeling depleted.

Like I was running off fumes.

And the energy it took to solve the seemingly unsolvable playroom problem tipped me over the edge that I had been walking just a little too close to for a little too long.

It was like I wanted to flip out… part of me wanted to make a scene, let the frustration out, indulge myself.

And I did. But I took it out on him. And  it didn’t feel  good.

So now it’s Monday morning, the kids are still asleep, and my husband’s working downstairs in his makeshift home office.

And I’m sitting here sipping a neglected  cold coffee, realizing that I’m probably not the only mom who flipped out over something trivial this weekend… The way that I feel in this moment connects me to so many other moms—to you perhaps. 

We connect in our suffering, in our vulnerability.

There’s a little comfort in that, don’t you think?

That in this moment, even if you feel like you’ve got nothing left in the tank, you’re experiencing a collective feeling of motherhood during this unprecedented time. It’s not about you or your shortcomings. It’s not your fault you feel this way.

But how do you move through it?

Here’s what I think:

The answer to burnout isn’t the one-off bubble bath, the girls night out, or indulging in that extra glass of wine.

It’s about taking a look at all that’s on your plate, being brave enough to consider letting some of it go, and finding your worthiness even when things feel like they’re falling apart.

Because some things will fall apart, but that’s not your fault.

It’s about saying no rather than powering through…

Asking for help rather than silently suffering…

And most importantly, it’s about learning to detach your sense of self-worth from all those expectations that have been put upon you.

Your endless laundry pile doesn’t define you.

Your child’s public tantrum doesn’t define you.

The fact that you’re feeling fried and wanting time away from mom-life— that doesn’t define you either.

Here’s a something to think about:

What if you picked three expectations for yourself that you actually care about.. What would they be? During times of stress and burnout especially, you can’t expect to operate exactly as you do when everything else is going right.

We are still in a pandemic… you’re probably juggling WAY more than normal right now… so this is NOT normal, and something’s got to give.

So at the end of the day, what three things would make you feel as though  you’ve done a good-enough job that day?

For me, they’d be:

  1. Being kind and compassionate to my family (most of the time).
  2. Being fully present with my kids for some parts of the day (notice how I didn’t say all the time?).
  3. Continuing to make progress with my work goals.

That’s it.

And when I remind myself of these core values, I realize that I actually don’t care that my house is a little messy, that the front yard has a few too many weeds, that I let the kids watch two movies yesterday (everyone needs a little Netflix binge sometimes, right?). You know what? I don’t actually care that the Playmobil situation is a total clusterf*** either ????

Those things do not change my worthiness. And my job is not to meet the billions of expectations that society placed on me when I became a mom. Neither is yours.

My job (and yours) is to figure out what I care about MOST… and pursue that, letting all the other chatter fade away.

I’d love to hear one expectation that made your list! Let me know in the comments below!

So You’re Not That Excited About Being Pregnant?

You have so much time during pregnancy and once your baby comes to develop a bond. You don’t have to be fully in love, fully excited or fully on board right away (looking for the video? Just scroll to the bottom!)

So you’re pregnant but you’re not exactly over-the-moon happy. You’re especially not as excited as you thought you would be. And to make matters worse, there’s a lot of self-judgement and questioning that comes with that. (“Why am I not thrilled? What’s wrong with me? Am I already a terrible mother?”)

 

You’re probably being especially critical of yourself, too. Not only are you not as happy as you thought you’d be, but now you’re also disappointed in yourself for not being super pumped.

 

That’s not a fun cycle…

 

As a mental health therapist for moms, I can say that this is one of the most common concerns I hear from women in early pregnancy. Seriously, I hear this all. the. time. It’s so normal. It’s so common. So let’s take a breather and dive into this.

 

What do my feelings mean?

 

First off, your feelings may be a surprise to you⁠—especially if you planned your pregnancy⁠—but they don’t mean anything. That’s right. Just because you’re not shouting from the rooftops doesn’t mean you’re bad and it certainly doesn’t mean anything bad about you.

 

Sure, you’re not ecstatic about your personal news at this moment however your feelings now say nothing about how you’ll be as a mother. So if this lackluster reaction has you convinced that you’re going to fail as a parent or that there’s something wrong with you, that’s not true at all.

 

Trust me.

 

Identify the expectation that has been placed on you. 

 

You’re feeling the mom guilt before your baby is even out of the womb. This is therefore a great time to examine that whole issue. Think about the expectations that have been placed on you that now have you feeling shame, guilt and self-criticism.

 

What does society assume of pregnant women? That you should be overjoyed. That you should be just so over-the-moon and giddy with planning your baby nursery. And if you don’t live up to that standard… what then?

 

Maybe you also haven’t heard other women voice these exact same feelings. Why? Probably out of fear of judgement… We tend to keep silent when we’re ashamed of whether or not our feelings make us “wrong” or “bad.”

 

But, like I said, this issue is way more common that you know. I hear this little “confessions” so many times over. None of these women are broken. None of them are doomed mothers.

 

Take a moment to think about how you are feeling. 

 

Try to stop worrying about what you’re not feeling and focus on what you are feeling. Some women feel stressed or nervous about the things that could go wrong. Maybe they heard of struggles from their friends and are worried of experiencing those same things. You might be wondering if everything is going to go according to plan. You might feel scared, numb… or even just indifferent.

 

Notice what’s coming up for you and what your concerns are. Keep in mind: you’re allowed to feel the way you feel. When you learn to stop judging yourself for those feelings, you can begin to process them.

 

You have months and months in your journey towards becoming a mother: Trust that excitement will build.

 

When you become pregnant, there’s a shift in your thinking. You know you’re pregnant but it can be hard to really identify with that. You don’t feel pregnant. It can be a hard change to fully understand or accept. Because you’re not yet connecting to that change, you don’t immediately feel the joy that you expected. That makes complete sense. There’s just a disconnect right now. And that’s okay!

 

I encourage women to recognize that there are still months and months in their journey to becoming a mother.

 

You have so much time during pregnancy and once your baby comes to develop a bond. You don’t have to be fully in love, fully excited or fully on board right away. Trust that energy and excitement will build! Right now, just experience your pregnancy and the resultant feelings as this phase of your life unfolds.

 

And remember: you’re not wrong, you’re not broken, this doesn’t indicate anything about you as a mom. This is so normal!

 

xox

Kate

 

How New Moms Can Manage Overwhelm + Isolation Caused by Coronavirus Pandemic

The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has far-reaching consequences for people across the entire globe. For moms who already live with a sense of overwhelm and isolation, this reality just got that much more challenging. If you’re a mom struggling to make sense of all this, or to find any sort of peace with what’s unfolding, I hear you, I’m with you, you’re not alone.

 

 

Here’s what I want you to know about creating calm, steadiness and resiliency during this uncertain time of coronavirus pandemic. 

YOUR EMOTIONS

The first thing I want you to know is that you’re allowed to feel however you feel during this time. 

You might feel scared, angry, numb, in disbelief, anxious, or sad. You might feel all of these things at different times. 

For me, I have felt huge waves of sadness that I couldn’t put words to at the time. My advice to you is to allow the emotions to come up and don’t feel the pressure to understand them or to “fix” them either. 

If you’ve already contracted Covid-19, you might be terrified of transmitting it to your family, and feel shame about contracting it yourself. This can intensify your sadness, depression, anxiety and sense of fear and isolation.  My hope is that you can let go of any shame and focus your energy on healing your body, and being kind to yourself in the process. 

Sometimes emotions are greater than we can fully understand in the moment. This is okay. You’re allowed to feel however you feel, and no one can tell you it’s wrong.

If you’re a new mom, or have young kids in particular, you’re probably quite concerned about the increased isolation over the next few weeks or even months. The idea of being trapped at home with the kids isn’t a welcome scenario. 

The increased pressure to entertain and educate your kids at home has already upped the expectations and mental load of motherhood – so notice the mom-guilt as it creeps in and see if you can check those expectations.

And if you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression, this is an important time to get support where you can (likely through online avenues) and continue to maintain as much self-care as possible. We know that as stress rises, so do mental health challenges. 

The most important thing you can do to manage your overall stress during this time is to stick to the coping strategies that work for you. What that means is that if you know you need exercise and 8 hours of sleep to feel well, then don’t go off path. Hold on to these tools, they’ll be the best thing you can do for your mental health. 

But with social distancing and schools, daycares, camps and extra-curriculars closed, postponed or cancelled, you’re going to need to get creative about this. 

Google at-home body weight workouts. 

Get outside and soak in nature, at a distance from everyone else. 

Set up FaceTime family dinner parties. 

I urge you to find new ways to meet these needs. Don’t drop your self-care because your usual methods are no longer available. 

HOW TO NOT LOSE YOUR MIND AT HOME

Okay, so I get it, I’m a mom too – a big concern coming out of this situation is that we’re now at home all the time with the kids. A honestly, this is a terrifying thought.

Moms are feeling worried about how the isolation will impact them, and how they’re going to get through this all without completely losing their minds (not to mention get any work done). 

Here’s some strategies to help you manage being at home during Covid-19 (coronavirus) Pandemic.

Limit your time reading news, social media, or talking about Coronavirus. 

Although the news always makes you feel like you need to watch it 24/7 for breaking updates, it’s not good for your mental health.

When you’re constantly plugged in, your brain is perpetually fed anxiety-provoking content. This can activate a threat-response in your nervous system (because it logically perceives this all as very threatening) which is hard for your body to deal with for prolonged periods of time. 

Hearing about the pandemic all day can be very upsetting. 

I urge you to get protective with your energy and emotions. Let in the information required to be informed and make good decisions, but otherwise unplug and allow your system to settle and your attention to go to other important areas. 

Create a schedule. 

Saw this coming, right? ?

I’m not talking about a super rigid schedule that causes more stress than it relieves, but just something that creates structure. Kids thrive on structure; parents thrive on happy settled kids. It’s a win-win. 

See if you can involve your kids in creating the schedule. Ask them what kinds of things they’d like to learn about, what they’d like to explore outside, what they want to help you make for dinner.  And I know, sometimes their idea of “help” actually just adds 30 minutes of mess for you to clear up afterwards, but you’re rolling with it all, right?

Having a schedule also allows you to pass on some accountability to your kids (yes, even young ones) so that you don’t feel like you’re bossing them around all day. It also removes the decision-making energy for the billion on-the-spot requests like “can we go play” and “can I do painting now”… to which I say:

“Is it in the schedule?”

Don’t forget that the schedule can be fun and create some space for you.

Make sure you schedule quiet time where everyone does their own thing. If you have young children, I encourage you to purposely take time just for you and let them see this. For example, sit on the couch and reach a book for 30 minutes… they’ll probably interrupt you 47 times initially, but they’ll eventually understand that mommy needs some down-time too. 

And what do I think about scheduling screen time? 100% do it. I am leaning on devices, unapologetically. There’s nothing wrong with weaving in some screen time for learning and just for the fun of it! 

Allow yourself a break!

Don’t expect yourself to run a home-school. 

You’re a determined and committed mom, I know. That’s why you’re reading this right now. So of course you’re thinking about how you can create a stimulating learning environment. 

But before you start stressing yourself out about planning educational blocks and buying new workbooks, I want you to notice your expectations. Have you given yourself (and your kids) time to adjust to the changes? Have you allowed yourself (and them) a break? Are you expecting yourself to step into home-schooling-mom-mode with zero background in this? 

Create a new rhythm of life that works for you. 

This takes self-awareness (paying attention to how you’re feeling and how Coronavirus is affecting you), and then adjusting accordingly. It also takes compassion for your family. How are they adjusting? What do they need? 

While the school and daycare systems have to create schedules that work for them, you have the opportunity to let your family flow into it’s own unique way.

When do your kids naturally wake up? What’s the easiest flow to your day? 

Let it be simple. Let it be easy. Don’t force it. 

HOW TO WORK FROM HOME WITH KIDS

It’s one thing to adjust to a lack of playdates and closed coffee shops, but quite another to figure out how to work from home (sometimes with your spouse there with you) while also parenting. 

The challenge compounds for families who’ve lost their normal support like daycares, libraries, and access to grandparents or other friends. 

The truth of the matter is that your work will likely be disrupted.  And so my first suggestion is to see where you can surrender and let go of this stress, if possible. Particularly in situations where you’ve been required to stay home, there’s little you can do to control the situation. Is there a way you can step back, take a big huge breath, and surrender?

When you have to juggle parenting and your paid job from home, you’ll have to get creative and dial in your efficiency, and it all comes back to that schedule. 

When are your littles most occupied? Can you plan to get your most time or attention-consuming tasks done (or at least started) during these chunks? 

You can also experiment with working alongside your kids at the table – they do their learning activities and you type away on your laptop. It’s completely okay to tell them that you are focused on your work for a period of time, and that you’ll be able to play with them afterwards. 

Of course they’ll pull for your attention. Of course you’ll feel guilty. But it’s okay, all of it!  Remind yourself that this isn’t ideal, but it’s tolerable and it’s what needs to happen. 

Another reminder: it’s good for kids to get bored sometimes. Boredom leads to creativity. When we solve the boredom problem for our children by putting something interesting in front of them, we rob them of the chance to solve it for themselves. 

Validate their boredom with kindness, and tell them that you’re completely confident they can find something to do. Then get back to work. 

What I find works well for my family is to set a timer and let them know that when they hear the bell, I’ll put my work away and we can do something together. This also keeps me accountable to my promise.

DEALING WITH ISOLATION AND LONELINESS

Social connection is the most important factor for mental wellness in postpartum years and beyond. We need each other. Meaningful connections are not a nice-to-have, they are essential. 

So how do we reconcile this during the Covid-19 crisis? 

Well, I think we have to get creative, and refuse to disconnect from those who are most important to us. 

Maybe you dislike talking on the phone, or texting feels impersonal, but I urge you to put that aside for a while and connect in whatever way you can digitally. Some connection is better than no connection. 

Create time to hang out with friends on Facetime or Google Hangouts video, or even have a Facetime party with multiple friends.

The same goes for your kiddos. They’ll be missing their friends too, even if they don’t express this. Allow them time to have connection with their pals through the phone or video chat even if this isn’t something you’d normally do. 

You might also consider social media platforms that help you feel heard and validated, as well as online meeting spaces offering support.

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS)

This entirely depends on the ages of your kids. But usually your kids can pick up on more than you’d think. They are so smart! Even if they can’t understand your words, or the extent of what’s happening, they can certainly pick up shifting energy in the home. They can tell you’re worried. They notice that the routine is off. So you need to talk to them about it. 

Filter your messages to your kids and only share basic and simple information. Try to explain in a way that they’ll understand, and also reassure them that they’re safe. Tell them that you’re doing everything you can to keep the family and your community healthy, and that you understand they might be sad about some things like cancelled playdates, camps, or prolonged absences from school. These are all understandable. 

Also, kids don’t have the ability to put this in perspective.

They care more about their missed playdate than the global crisis because they don’t understand the global crisis. They don’t have the capacity to understand it’s full extent, and that’s okay. Let them have their emotions. Soothe them, and reassure them of their safety. 

I encourage you to limit their exposure to news as well. Again, since they don’t understand, they can create scary ideas in their minds and fear can quickly escalate to anxiety. Helps them manage this by limiting what media and conversations they’re exposed to.

WHY WE NEED GRATITUDE + APPRECIATION MORE THAN EVER

When your social media feed is covered in posts about Covid-19 and your entire life is off-routine because of it, not to mention if you’re sick or someone you know is unwell, there’s no shortage of fear and concern. Now, more than ever, we need to work to create balance in our minds and emotions. 

The way to do this is by creating (or returning to) a gratitude practice so that you also include the awareness of positive things in your life. They are there. There are many things that are the same, or that still bring you joy. We need to tune into these areas so that we don’t drown in the negative. 

Is there a way to look at your situation in a way that serves you better, that doesn’t feel so daunting and scary? Is there something you’ve been wanting to do that now you might have some time for? Have you been longing to slow down, to spend more focused time with your kids? 

When you focus on positive things in your life, you reinforce pathways in your brain that with time, become stronger and eventually fire on their own. Our thoughts are directly related to how we feel, so if you think about happy things you’re more likely to be… happy:)

And remember, gratitude isn’t about ignoring the severity of the situation or living in denial of the Covid-19 tragedy that’s unfolding, but rather, to allow your brain to create some sense of balance, and to hang on to the things that lift you up. 

Sending love, ease, and compassion to you and you families. 

 

Kate Borsato