I am feeling a wave of optimism, so I’m here to share that energy. I think we’ve all been on quite the rollercoaster ride these past few weeks. We have no routine, our brains are utterly scrambled, and we are discouraged. We feel we’re failing at work, we are failing at homeschooling, and ultimately we’re failing our kids. It’s a defeating feeling. Usually as a working parent, only ONE aspect of your life is being sacrificed at any given point. We know that feeling well - that deep, torn wrench in your gut that you’re letting someone down. We weigh our options and choose accordingly. But this? This is chaos. We are letting EVERYONE down. We can’t focus and we are grasping at anything and everything to help ground ourselves.
Let’s try to remember the MOST IMPORTANT aspect here - YOU. You have been thrown into an unprecedented scenario. What is being asked of you is not sustainable and some days, flat out not possible. And that’s hard. It’s hard to see the good when life is so chaotic at all times.
Our bodies and our minds are in fight or flight mode, constantly. We must preserve ourselves and our sanity. Scale your mind back to the most simplistic of joys - birds chirping in the morning, flowers blooming, your children laughing, the smell of fresh air or dinner in the oven (even if it’s chicken nuggets!), a warm smile from your partner… It’s these simplicities that are grounding. They are predictable and present. Shift your focus there from time to time.
It’s frustrating to read people writing, “Be grateful for what you have.” I am grateful but I worked my tail off to get here and I am wired to “Go go go.” To be honest, I’m really annoyed that this pandemic is slowing me down and screwing up my momentum. On the other hand, I am relieved. The me deep down in there that I have been ignoring for quite some time is swimming to the surface for a refreshing breath of air. I am embracing that person - the woman I’ve always wanted to be but haven’t wanted to pay attention to because I’ve been too busy trying to get somewhere. To be honest, I’m not even sure where that “somewhere” even is. That woman wants to enjoy life. She wants to enjoy the present, for the first time. That woman wants to be a working mom with true balance in my household and true understanding within the culture of our country.
Consider this our life reset. Within each day, there are glimpses of good. They may be fleeting, but they are there. Embrace them as you navigate through these hard emotions and your chaotic, unrelenting days. They will ground you. They may even conjure some deeper values that you forgot you had.
Navigating work and life from home is no different than navigating work and life from work. The latter is a preposterous notion, so why would the former be so reasonable? With schools closed indefinitely and shelter-in-place not being uplifted anytime soon, it’s time to shift our mindset so we don’t lose our minds. I’m choosing to simplify, slow down, and scale back. This is not easy and honestly I’m a little bitter about it. But on the other side, we have all seen or felt a serious influx in burnout and overwhelm. This is our chance to undo those feelings. The mental energy it took to go through the “daily grind” of work and life is surely different now. But the good news is we can erase some of those stressors and shift our focus, albeit to other ones. Our daily grind looks different now but different can be good.
I am the worst self-motivator. A lot of this new normal requires an insane amount of self motivation and discipline. So I am taking this unwanted challenge and forcing myself to pick simply one thing a day and achieve that goal. It could be as little as get all the laundry into hampers. But it’s a start and it’s a shift in mindset and it’s a good life skill to practice.
As a working mom, I have NEVER spent this much time consecutively with my children. I have always prided myself on being a better mom because I work. I still feel that way but it has also given me a once in a lifetime opportunity to be with them. There is something very special about that aspect, even if it’s insanely challenging. There are moments I look at their faces and marvel. Will we all feel better when we are back on a schedule that works for each of us as individuals? Absolutely. But I’m trying really hard to remember that when the world is restored, we may never have such time together again without missing work or school.
So as external chaos inside your homes continue and internal chaos bubbles over, know you’re not alone. We all feel it and together we can all change it. My motto moving forward: Simplify. Slow down. Scale back. See the glimpse of good. We will get through this together.