For the past two weeks, “normal” has eluded me, as well as the entire globe. Nothing is how it was, and I suspect going forward, nothing will ever really be the same again.
This is not meant to be fear-mongering or depressing rhetoric. It’s only a new reality my sheltered life must accept without crippling anxiety. So far I’ve transitioned pretty well from wanna-be-writer to homeschooling headmistress. My children are young and need a routine, boundaries and a workable system so they feel safe, have fun, and don’t tire of mommy now ruling everything from bathtime to recess to social studies. (Aiy, what a world!)
I do find reassurance that I am not the only person in this situation. To know that the entire world is, in essence, quarantined — from my neighbors to Tom Hanks — knowing we’re all in this together strips away some of the fear.
It’s important to remember we’re not helpless
While the reality of life can stop up in our tracks, it doesn’t mean we stop going after the things that we want to accomplish. It makes sense to feel as much in control of things now more than ever. That means structuring our days, creating new routines, re-prioritizing our goals, and accepting our new roles.
This is all a work in progress, and if I can be honest, it’s going to be far from perfect for a while. But I think if we give ourselves a framework we can work within, to tweak and experiment with, this time can be significant, rather than fearful and uncertain.
Here are a few ways of how I’m learning to cope with my fears, anxiety and momentary bouts of too much time with my kids while trying to create a framework that will help to keep me sane:
1. I’ve started doing yoga in the mornings. Stretching my stressed-out body before I dive into organizing my children’s days so far is proving to be one of the best ways to start my day. It feels as though I’m releasing tension with each little stretch, and a downward-facing dog on the calves feels incredible.
It’s difficult to find where the tension lives in your body until you begin paying attention to it and treating it with a little love and compassion. I do beginner flow yoga even though I can do more advanced, as this practice isn’t about getting better and stronger, but more about taking care of my body, helping it to slowly open up to better handle the stressors of the day. I don’t typically notice how I hold my body during the day, where I’m tight, or when my shoulders creep up to my ears as I’m trying to help my son do fractions! This practice is helping me to be more aware and conscious of my body.
Yoga helps you get into your body in a more profound way than an intense run or bike ride. It’s gentler and that’s something I think we can all use right now.
2. I’m waking up early so I can get some alone time and do the things I want to do, be it write, read, or attempt to organize the day ahead. I suggest planning out the night before what you want to do when you wake up. If you wait until the morning, chances are you’ll waste precious minutes making a plan, and sometimes those little critters will wake up early, tossing their wrench right into your plan. When my kids surprise me with an early wake-up call and I haven’t even started ticking things off my list, I end up starting my day feeling disappointed rather than satisfied.
Alone time right now is precious so make sure you’re getting the most out of it!
3. I’ve accepted that finding a new routine is going to take time, so I no longer place a lot of pressure on myself to get everything done in a day. If some schoolwork doesn’t get completed because the kids were outside playing, then so be it. If I’m scrambling to make dinner at 6 because I forgot to prep ahead of time, then so be it. I refuse to freak out, feel guilty, or expect more from myself.
When I need a mental break away from everyone, I’ll go upstairs, close the door and let myself have 15 or 20 minutes to myself, no guilt. I know I’m doing the best that I can and I’m allowing myself the breaks I need when I need them. Otherwise, I’m an angry mommy. Best to weather off a storm than hurdle yourself right into it! Be kind to yourself and allow yourself all the time you need to get your routine figured out.
4. I no longer feel guilty letting my kids play on the iPad for an hour if it means I can get things done quicker and more efficiently than if they were all over me, constantly asking for things while I’m trying to clean, or cook, or do laundry, or write. Which makes me wonder, can we let go altogether the whole concept of mom guilt? It’s a colossal waste of time, energy and emotion. Must we come down on ourselves for not being perfect?
I’m taking executive action and I have decided to absolve all of us to no longer endure the mom guilt. You are now free to mom it up without feeling bad ;)
5 Finally, I’ve widdled down my to-do list to one item. One focus. One thing I’m working on for me, for my business, and I’m letting everything else go for now. The stress and overwhelm has never been more intense for me, so forcing myself to focus on one goal, one thing that I feel is most important, allows me to become more efficient, less stressed, and all-around nicer to the people I’m quarantined with.
We all realize this is an absurdly crazy and unprecedented time in life, so whatever we can do to minimize the stress and overwhelm, the better equipped we’ll be when we come out on the other side. I think many of us are going to come out of this better than when we got thrust into this whole pandemic.
And so you know, none of my coping skills are backed by science, that I know of, or are foolproof. They’re an experiment in how to make the most of our new reality for the sake of staying sane and safe. My thoughts and prayers are with all those on the front lines, working and sacrificing their own health so they may protect all of us.
I hope you’re staying strong, begin safe, enjoying your family if you’re all home together, and staying sane! It’s a crazy world right now, but one thing we can be certain of is it won’t be like this forever. Change is the one constant we can rely on, and our ability to roll with the punches will help make this experience a little less frightening.
Become a part of my community and receive my 5-step process to creating healthy habits that stick.
AM Costanzo is a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help others feel strong, powerful and downright fabulous in body and mind!