A predominant word we’re all embracing these days. When we first entered the early days of COVID-19, I was nervous. I was nervous about having a newborn and three other children five years and younger, and managing homeschool, keeping everyone busy, and balancing regular day-to-day demands.
In the beginning, I committed to a 30-minute walk every day to listen to inspiring podcasts (and to just get a breather) and help me maintain heightened emotional well-being. On one of my walks, I was moved by the motivation to think about the quarantine period as a potential last time. When I applied that direction to my life, my heart was stricken with the immediate drive to make each day of the “mandatory stay at home with your family period,” worthwhile and rooted in everlasting memories.
Because what if it was the last time?
What if it was the last time I could be with my husband and all four of my children at the same time with no extracurricular demands? What if it was the last time we could enjoy daily, relaxing dinners on the screened porch without worrying about being late for practice? What if it was the last time we could all wake up together, spending the first thirty minutes snuggling on the couch with nowhere to rush off to?
What if it was the last time we could just BE?
Wayne Dyer said it best…
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
This new perspective has not only encouraged me but has also held me accountable. When I am about to lose my patience with one of my children, the “what if it were the last time” thought starts ringing in my ears. This time period is hard enough and if there is anything I could do to make it easier, I was signing up. This “what if this was the last time” perspective not only changed how I felt about everything going on, but it has instilled in me positive changes as a mother.
With every day closed in by the four walls of our home, I spend more time getting down on my kids’ level by planning and engaging in activities that will complement their homeschooling responsibilities, expend their energy, enlist their creativity, and nourish their well-being…and it feels so good. Every day has been spent with us being together, and it has been truly awesome. While homeschooling is no longer, I still try to plan a few fun, mind-stimulating things that we can do together each day.
There are days when I need a break and so do they, and I don’t feel a bit bad about a little extra screen time or just a “fly by the seat of our pants” day. Knowing that there is nowhere to go and no one to see, or even a break from each other, I try my best to be funny and silly to ignite laughter. I’ve also learned how to employ calmness and gentleness to address behavior modification. I quickly figured out that a day full of correcting their behavior, losing my patience, and responding with a tone that exhibited a level of displeasure was exhausting and solved absolutely nothing. It didn’t make anything better and it made me feel like crap (I am sure it didn’t make them feel too great either).
With this said, I still have days of losing my patience and feeling irritable, but overall, I am happier, and my kids are happier. My frustration is quickly dismantled by calmly talking to them about the issue at hand and moving on with kisses, cuddles, laughter, and more fun. I know that these days will come to an end, and we’ll resume school, work, and extracurricular activities, but the lessons learned during quarantine are hopeful imprints on my “mommy-ing MO.”
In total disclosure. I came back to finish this blog piece after a few days of perfecting the “sucky mom” feeling. It has been a hard several days in my household and even my serene advice on focusing on “what if this is the last time” mentality just wasn’t bringing me back from the burnout. I crashed onto my “human” mat and yelled, lost my patience, responded irritably, and lacked the ability to engage back in to play and imagination with my kids.
These days have their place and in my opinion, are not only inevitable but normal. One of the best things about these kinds of days is the fuel they ignite to come from underneath the storm and weather back up to the sunshine. Analyze the days…What were possible triggers that made the day harder? Did you take care of yourself during the days? When I ask myself these questions I can generally identify that on the harder days, I did not take care of myself, I did not eat well, I did not get a good night sleep, I did not engage in something that fueled my soul, and I didn’t give my children as much grace as they needed.
We are all having a hard time during this time and just like I am going to have my bad days, so are they. Next step, reflect, learn, and reboot—reboot for a better day tomorrow and if the next day isn’t as good as you wish it had been, try again tomorrow. Each day, define what success is going to look like and ground yourself in a commitment to do your best, and remember that your best is going to look different on different days because life is plain hard—and give yourself grace. If I am feeling mom guilt, an exercise that helps me is to either say my failures out loud or even write them down and ask myself:
- Was my behavior and/or feelings really as bad as I blamed myself for?
- What advice would I give a friend who brought this concern to me?
- What can I teach myself from these days? What can I teach my kids about these days?
And there you have it…the raw picture of a mom changing her perspective to make the days as best (and easy) as possible AND the same mom succumbing to a string of negative days and wearing the “mom-ster” mask. To all the moms out there, it’s hard…some days are just so hard and add pandemic life on top of it, and it’s even harder. I get it. My house is definitely not rainbows and unicorns every day (that’s my oldest daughter’s room, haha) and I am definitely not the mom on the cover of “Perfect Moms of 2020;” I am just trying to feel the rhythm of COVID-19 and dance to it. Dance to the change, to the new normal. Do you want to dance with me?