Motherhood brings a host of challenges, but they may seem to be more acute during a pandemic. Regardless of whether moms work from home, work outside of the home, or stay at home, the compression of time and space inside four walls of a house can feel overwhelming. Meeting the challenges of motherhood during a pandemic requires some creativity and a great deal of grace.
Here are three tips to help you meet the challenges of motherhood during a pandemic.
- Win the expectations game. Moms are uniquely gifted at setting unrealistic expectations for themselves and others. Mom, you will drive yourself crazy trying to be an idealized version of yourself or trying to make your children meet an unrealistic ideal. You are not going to weather this pandemic perfectly, and neither are your children. Take time to be introspective and identify how you are feeling and coping. Write your thoughts down and take cleansing breaths every day to clear your mind.Your children may not be able to identify what they are feeling, so have conversations with them about it. They will communicate as much as they are able, but it may take several conversations to get a good handle on how they are doing.Additionally, avoid undue stress by setting realistic expectations for each day. Make a plan and then evaluate it carefully. Are you attempting to accomplish more than is possible? Have you factored in rest time, fun, and transition room? Identify the critical needs, address them in the plan for the day or week, and trust that you’re making the best decision for your family.
- Are you listening? One of the keys to great communication, regardless of circumstances, is listening. Communicating with children during a pandemic, or with a supportive spouse or partner, requires greater effort to listen well. With few exceptions, children will mimic everything you do, so demonstrate how to listen by listening to them. Listening communicates caring, kindness, and can help demonstrate empathy, all traits that we want children to learn. Especially during a pandemic, before speaking, make sure you have listened to understand. This will give you a sense of calm and will create healthy patterns for your children to follow.
- Speak up for your sanity. Whether you’re accustomed to staying home all day with children or it’s a new sensation, the most important thing to preserve is your mental health. You may be feeling a myriad of emotions during this time from anxiety to fear to isolation and depression. It is absolutely crucial that you handle those emotions in a healthy way. Hear me when I say it is not selfish to communicate what you need, ask for it, or create the necessary space. Your kids will not suffer from watching a movie from time to time, and your mental health is worth it. If you have a partner or a friend who might be able to watch the kids for a while, carve out time to spend however you choose to spend it. The loss of individual preferences during a pandemic can seem jarring. Finally, if you have access to telehealth counseling services, take advantage of it! Mental maintenance is nothing to be ashamed of, and trained physicians can help you find tools to help you cope.
In the best of circumstances, facing the challenges of motherhood is difficult; during a pandemic, it can seem almost impossible. Take time to be introspective, to listen, and be willing to ask for what you need. You, and your children, may just emerge better for it in the end.