Inside this post: 2020 has challenged everyone, especially moms. Suddenly, you are required to be everything to your kids, and it can feel impossible to get a breath of air for yourself. In this article, read about ways you can manage your mental health as a mom during a pandemic and receive encouragement through this extremely unique and challenging season.
Welcome to Pandemic 2020
Picture this: A mom sits at the kitchen table while her toddler tugs at her pajama pant leg. Though having just eaten, he is begging for another “’nack,” and mom is anxiously watching the clock, one minute away from a work meeting on Zoom. Dressed in business-casual from the waist up, she puts on a forced smile as her screen crops out the mess of her home and the mute feature silences happy children shrieks and the occasional argument over a favorite toy.
Welcome to Pandemic 2020 as a working mom. When the stay-at-home orders were put into place, moms across the globe were expected to balance working from home, being primary childcare, enacting a school-like daily schedule, and keeping the house in typical working order. Oh yeah, and also take care of herself so she can mentally and physically accomplish these tasks.
Sounds simple, right? Yeah, sure, if there are 48 hours in a day.
Through this giant change, moms have been experiencing all kinds of emotions: grief of what was lost because of the shutdown, fear of the repercussions and potential consequences of the virus, and overwhelming stress of being caught in the unknown. Women are already more predisposed to depression and anxiety when compared to men (source here), so adding in a global pandemic is certainly a way to trigger these mental health disorders into full gear, among other mental health challenges.
Let’s talk about some ways to manage your mental health as a mom during the pandemic, all while balancing children, partners, and yourself. And don’t miss the list below of all kinds of resources!
I alluded to this in the introduction, but I want to unpack this topic a bit more because I think this is super important to talk about. Going through a pandemic is inherently a life altering event. Whether a person is a busy, full-time worker or a stay-at-home mom, things about everyone’s routine changed.
For me, as a graduate student and stay-at-home mom, my world didn’t change as much as others. I just stopped going into my internship site that I’d been attending twice a week, and my classes moved online.
And I’ll be totally honest: I was living my best life. I am a total homebody who loves to organize, clean, and do what I want when I want (as much as you can with a baby, anyway). Funnily enough, I didn’t feel guilty about staying home because it was literally the right thing to do. I had to! Also, I should add, my son was 6 months old when the pandemic hit, so he was pretty easy to manage and entertain at that point.
However, over the course of the weeks that turned into months, and more and more things getting postponed or cancelled (like my best friend’s wedding…), I started to reconsider my feelings about the pandemic. Soon, it felt like there was no end in sight and I began to be faced with the fact that nothing would ever be the same again.
[Let me also add that I am in no way discounting the fact that the virus itself can be very devastating for many. Me missing a wedding pales in comparison to someone losing a loved one.]
My encouragement here is that it’s ok to have whatever feelings you’re feeling. It’s ok to feel happy about staying home and sad about missing out at the same time. Let yourself wish the world would be back to normal. No one in our lifetime has been through something like this, so the way you’re handling it is totally expected and even arguably normal. Even searching mental health as a mom during a pandemic is worthy of praise!
Ebbs & Flows
As time has passed, I have noticed weeks where I am on my game: I am exercising, eating healthy meals, keeping the house clean, and feeling energized. Other weeks, I am drained, too tired to even make a sandwich, and spend most of the day getting my money’s worth out of Disney+. All while watching my now 11-month old, who just started walking. (Send help)
Just like emotions, energy and feeling motivated to be productive or practice self-care can ebb and flow. Gosh, it’s so hard to get motivated when you’re in the same environment all day doing the same old same old.
And that’s ok! It’s imperative in these weird and challenging times to give yourself grace. Take advantage of the times when you’re on your game, but it’s also ok if some days you just want to lounge on the couch.
I wrote a post a bit ago about how to prioritize self-care as a stay-at-home mom and it talks a lot about mindset in self-care. I’d suggest checking it out as encouragement!
Additionally, if you’re feeling in a rut, switch up your routine, as much as you can anyway. Try waking up an hour earlier, or eat your lunch on the porch. Simply changing scenery can reenergize your body and brain, and catapult you into a new-found headspace.
Lower Your Expectations
When the quarantine started, I remember seeing so many people renovating their spaces, planting enormous gardens, and learning to make sourdough bread. It was like the ultimate spring cleaning because what else are you going to do?
All I was doing was fumbling through online school and watching my son all day long. My house still looked the same. I couldn’t get away to do anything to take advantage of the time at home. I was so frustrated and envious of others who could accomplish all of the tasks they’d been putting off.
Here’s the thing: you can’t do it all, especially now. It’s completely unrealistic to think that you can seamlessly transition into working from home (if you work!) while also suddenly homeschooling your children. Then, add in these “productive” projects everyone is showing off and you’re over the line. Simply getting out of bed could be your best today, and that’s amazing. Sometimes, we need to lower our expectations.
It can be so discouraging to feel like you’re not doing as much as others, but mama, simply being a mom is an amazing job in and of itself. And you’re doing an awesome job!
FOR MENTAL HEALTH FOR MOMS DURING THE PANDEMIC
In the midst of this challenging time, I’ve compiled this set of resources for moms to use to prioritize yourself, accept the current stage, and learn how to best support yourself and your family.
Self-Care Ideas for Moms: Finding Some “Me Time” Without Leaving the House – Love, Linley: Maternal Mental Health & Wellness Blog
Coronavirus Parents: Parenting During a Pandemic – Facebook Support Group
Postpartum Depression & Anxiety in COVID-19 – Mother.ly Article
Checklist for Giving Birth During a Pandemic – The Mindful Mamas Club
Managing Anxiety Over Reopening – Child Mind Institute
Check back for more. I’ll be adding resources as I find them!
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