You do it all – manage a home, a job, the children, and more. But now, with the spread of coronavirus and resulting school and activity closures, you’re being asked to do even more. Educate your children while you work from home and simultaneously cope with isolation, uncertainty, and other aspects of a pandemic? Check.
The job description for Supermom has radically expanded in the last two weeks.
These are trying, unprecedented times. We’re being resourced to dig deep in order to survive, both physically and psychologically. And it often isn’t pretty.
In the last 24 hours, I have rage texted my kids’ teacher, emailed their principal that I will likely pull them from school (the Zoom meeting structure is unsustainable for me while I work), researched Florida Virtual School, looked up pricing on RV rentals, and dyed my hair purple. How about you?
Here are some tips that might be helpful as we weather the next few weeks or months:
- Lower the bar. Seriously, flatten it, just like we’re trying to do with the curve. Do the least you have to in order to keep your job and to continue to meet your children’s basic needs. This is a time for lowering expectations, both of yourself and of your children. They can survive on television and processed food. You can survive on good enough. Here’s a great article to get you started toward this goal.
- Get outside. Being outdoors is restorative. Connect with nature. Get some fresh air. It doesn’t have to be for long, but make sure you do get outside every single day. Even if you can only open a window and take a few deep breaths, do this daily. Ever notice how the kids do better when outdoors? So do we. Your nervous system will thank you.
- Move your body. Physical activity helps regulate our bodies and our moods. It can improve our stress reactivity (how we respond to stress) and our immunity. While intense exercise might be best at reducing physiological/emotional arousal, anything works. Ride bikes. Walk the dog. Go on a family scavenger hunt. Host a living room dance party. Just move.
- Give yourself a break. Stress eating, drinking, mindlessly scrolling, or lashing out in frustration? Of course you are. We’re all doing the best we can to get through this situation, plus there are certain realities (e.g, potential food scarcity, isolation) that heighten some of these behaviors. Be patient with yourself. You’re coping as best you know how.
- Reach out for connection and support. While social support is always crucial, right now, it’s our lifeline for survival. Continue to connect with others online. Schedule virtual coffee dates, play dates, and gab sessions. Reach out to your networks of folks in similar situations. They will get it. I found myself uncharacteristically posting in a twins moms’ group, one in which I usually just hover, the other day when overwhelmed with homeschooling twins while working. The empathic and validating responses I received were exactly what I needed.
- Focus on now. Chunk your time mentally until you feel like you can manage, trying not to think ahead. Yes, planning is useful, but worrying about what comes next – especially when we don’t know what will happen next – is unproductive. There’s enough stress right this moment in the here and now. If today feels unmanageable, see if you can get through the next hour. Is that too much too? Take it minute to minute. That’s all we have to do: get through this minute. Then repeat.
- Get help. Therapists are still available for individual and group sessions. Particularly those of us who were early adopters of online therapy are skilled at working remotely. The research shows distance therapy is as effective as in-person counseling and offers the added benefits of flexibility, comfort, and privacy – and now, individual and community health preservation. Use this fact to your advantage while isolated at home. Rely on us for support, validation, and coping skills. Even if you don’t realize it, you need all of this in spades right now.