I’m stressed. There is a lot going on out there, it feels like the information changes every day. My kids are home all day, every day. They don’t get to run around with their friends, even if we do see them while we are out for a walk. The news coming out of Italy gets more bleak by the minute, and I wonder if we are doing enough to stop this before it hits us like a runaway truck.
I worry about being able to feed my family long term, assuming this continues, which doesn’t feel like a stretch. I worry about my family, all of whom live at least 175 miles away. I worry the grocery stores will have to close because all their employees get sick. I worry that all medical personnel are burning themselves out and will suffer tremendously for it. I worry about the scientists working day and night to give us concrete answers.
This novel coronavirus has kicked my anxiety into full gear. I spend my days and nights imagining all the worst case scenarios. Sleep is not relief from this. The tension in my shoulders, jaw, whole body never releases. Taking a complete, deep breath seems impossible. My brain is a squirrel on meth stuck on a hamster wheel.
I talk to others online about their concerns, and I find all of them relatable. Maybe not in a specific detail kind of way, but in a general kind of way. I’m not a single mom struggling to care for her special needs child with no extra cash to even start to stock up on basics I may need. I’m not a new mom feeling isolated after building my routine around meeting up with friendly faces three times a week. I’m not the mom of a medically fragile child, panicked because people just can’t take this seriously.
I’m not these specific people. But I understand their struggles. Yesterday, I wrote a little post full of sass about how to survive. The sass hid the truth. This is not normal. It is not sustainable for our mental health. I need my friends and support system as much as anyone. And I need to support people just as much.
If you read this far, thank you. If you find that you just need to vent your fears, write them out here. You can post it anonymously, even we won’t be able to identify you. If you have some kind of resource I can link to that would help some of the people I listed above, shout them out. We will link anything that will help.
We are in uncharted (for our times) territory. Never have we been asked to isolate like this. This means that there are a LOT of parents at home, all the time, with their children. It’s something they’ve likely never experienced. If you have never had the pleasure (sarcasm) of not being able to take a break from your children because there is nowhere to take them because nothing is open, you are very likely feeling the stress. And it is very, very likely you are scrambling for creative ways to get a damn break! So, I compiled a small list of things you can do. A bit of background on me, I have three kids, ages 14, 9, and 8. They’re pretty fun to be stuck with now. Now. But I experienced this whole isolation thing a bit when they were tiny toddlers and a second grader when a tropical storm rolled through and flooded everything. Nothing was open, there were no parks that were safe to go to, it sucked the life from my soul. As a result, I had to get creative. (Note, this is not the time to be super duper concerned about every second of their day. It’s just not.)
Put your headphones on and blast some music. They’re short, they’ll be okay for like 15 minutes.
Lay on the floor and let them race cars on your back. Are you away from them, no. Are you engaged with them, also no. Bonus: put out a bowl of goldfish and take a 15 minute nap. But not if your child is tiny.
Nap when they nap. Naps are the tits.
Read. Sit down with your book and when one of them tries to talk to you, tell them that you are having quiet reading time. Invite them to grab a book and do the same. No time like the present to start teaching boundaries. Parenting does not mean being at their beck and call.
Make a pillow fort. One for you. Not for them. Put a sign up. Bring your you snacks. Growl at anyone that tries to come in.
Join our group on Facebook or hit up the forums on here. We will listen, commiserate, and most importantly, not judge you for saying your toddler is a jackass. Because it’s true.
Take a long shower. Or bath. Whichever, but lock the door. Booze is optional.
Exercise. Find a fun new video on Youtube. Dance along with a music video. Move your booty.
Give up your rigid schedule, if that’s stressing you out. This is not the time for schedules, we are all just trying to survive.
Paint something, make something out of salt dough, be creative.
Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write. Put pen to paper and write a page about things that are weighing on you. Write about how this has impacted your life. Write about how it has shifted your priorities. Or how it hasn’t. When you’re done, put it on the internet or don’t, but save it. Someday, you will look back and this will be a glimpse of history.
Use your kids like dolls. Dress them up, put them in scenes, take their pictures. (And then share them :))
Swear around the kids. Loudly. No one cares. Just don’t swear at them.
Get silly. Get sad. Get stressed. Get crabby. These are all normal reactions to what’s going on. Whatever you are feeling, feel it.
Self-care for parents of littles right now, we see you, we know it’s not easy, and your ‘me-time’ isn’t going to look the same for a while. Grab it where you can and lean on who you can while staying healthy. We love you.
It’s Monday, and for most of us that means going to work for the first time in 2 days. Ugh, right? I feel like that’s a fairly accurate statement.
Which leads to the awkward part for me; I legitimately enjoy Mondays. I like going to work. Again, not some freakish unicorn, I’ve worked hard to create a life that I don’t constantly want to escape.
I used to dread Monday like a bill collector, a root canal, or something else not fun. Now, I get to go to work and know that I’m helping. Now, I get to go to work but I leave it there, I don’t bring it home with me. Now, I am respecting my own boundaries so that I don’t burn out.
Plus, it’s like 50 degrees and sunny outside and that reminds me that brighter days are coming. They are. And I look forward to work.
I graduated from college with a bachelor of science in psychology in August, at the tender age of 38, with a goal of going to grad school.
Don’t read this and think that I’m some kind of weirdo with lots of self-confidence, because I’m really not. I studied, I worked, I did the whole parenting thing, and I commuted, and I graduated.
If that’s where my academic career ends I will be okay with it.
You see, I want to help people.
I’ve always been a helper and I see no reason for that to change now.
This time is different because this is like a real, adult career move. I want to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. When I look at society and all the things wrong with it, to me, it comes back to familial problems. And I want to help.
So, I asked for help (look at all the adult skills I’m using! give me a gold star!).
I asked a professor, a boss, a co-fish at the Band, and Aunt Becky to write my letters of recommendation. I’m going to frame them. (For real, if you ever wonder how others see you, ask them to write a letter like this for you, you will feel so damn good.)
And with those in hand, I hit submit.
On January 24, I received a call saying that I had earned myself an interview at said school!
And I am thrilled! And terrified!
And if I don’t get in, that’s okay. I will continue to help, and I will continue to find other ways to grow. Maybe I’ll become a yoga instructor. Or a professional chef.
Maybe I’ll go back to college and get a whole different degree in something completely different. I have no idea.
And I’m happy with that. Tell me some way you’ve challenged yourself to grow recently?