I woke up a little later than usual and grabbed my phone.
It was time for me to schedule a therapy appointment.
In fact, it was past due.
For some reason, I had assumed I could postpone my mental health maintenance until the COVID-19 quarantine was over.
But a couple of weeks in, and I realized that that was definitely a mistake.
So I opened my email and began to type.
I’d like to schedule some time tomorrow, if possible.
My mental health has taken a nosedive. Definitely need some time.
It was a desperate cry for help during an unusual time.
An honest moment where I said, “Hey! I need help navigating motherhood during quarantine.”
Why I Reached Out For Help
It goes without saying that parenting is an adventure that has no itinerary.
I mean, no one can really tell you exactly how everything will go.
And under normal circumstances, that’s uncertainty that every mom, dad, and legal guardian accepts.
But throw in an anomaly like COVID-19, and the highs and lows of parenting transition from a daily or weekly occurrence to ups and downs every few minutes or hour.
And that’s where I found myself.
Right before I emailed my therapist, I became consumed by the overwhelm.
In this new norm, I had to be a mom and a working professional simultaneously and continuously.
There was never really a hard start and stop.
And the guilt…the guilt I felt was worse than normal.
I felt guilty for letting my daughter watch hours of TV just so my husband and I could work without interruption.
I wanted to cry whenever I heard my daughter become distraught while I walked away to make a client call.
And the kicker, was when I had to look at her adorable face and say, “Honey, mommy can’t right now. She has to work.”
Then on the flip side, whenever my baby girl threw a tantrum or refused to take a nap, I secretly yearned for the day when daycare would reopen.
But right after, I felt like a horrible mom for even having the thought.
I mean people were losing loved ones during this pandemic. How could I even think of my hard days compared to theirs?
Plus what about all those essential workers who don’t get to see their kids?
I was a mix of emotions, feeling like I was failing at work-life balance, being selfish, and just not doing enough.
But thank God, after my mental health check-in, my therapist gave me some gentle reminders that helped me regain my composure.
5 Mantras To Help You Navigate Motherhood During Quarantine
Here’s what she shared with me to help me navigate parenting during COVID-19.
(1) Feel all the feelings.
As moms, we need to acknowledge exactly where we’re at with no shame. We need to allow ourselves to feel all the emotions coursing through our veins.
Suppressing them doesn’t help our individual mental health, and eventually, it will affect those at home with us.
We have to remember that it’s okay to feel.
(2) Stop holding yourself to a productivity standard from 2 months ago.
The reality is that what you are able to tackle right now is entirely different from what you had the bandwidth to do over two months ago.
The old norm is gone, it’s time to be kind to yourself and embrace the imperfection of this new one.
(3) Be honest with yourself and others about what you can handle right now.
After you’ve come to terms with your new norm, it’s time to get practical about what you can actually handle right now.
For example, most days, I’m so tapped out by Baby Shark and juggling multiple roles in my life that I don’t have the energy to participate in a long phone call with friends. Yet I am willing to text.
There are also days where my daughter really wants more one-on-one time, so I set aside my phone and become completely unavailable.
Whatever, you actually can do, do it and set up boundaries with others.
(4) Take note of what makes you feel happy during this new norm and create a self-care routine around that.
At a time like this, it definitely feels like a self-care routine is impossible.
But when my therapist shared this with me, it reminded me of my dad’s advice to do five (5) small things for yourself throughout each day.
The idea here isn’t to do the same things day in and day out to practice self-care.
It’s more about doing a few things that allow you to invest in yourself on each specific day.
Maybe today, your five things as a parent are going to be (1) taking a hot shower by yourself, (2) having a cup of coffee, (3) reading a page from your favorite novel for 5 minutes, (4) not cooking and ordering in, and (5) staying up for an hour later to watch an action movie on Netflix.
And maybe tomorrow, your 5 things are combined into spending 2 hours playing a random game on your phone at the end of the day.
These actions aren’t necessarily ground-breaking or trendy but what matters is that they make you happy and help you feel recharged during COVID-19.
(5) Remember, that you are doing enough.
Last but not least, if you forget everything I’ve written and only remember one thing, remember this – You are doing enough.
My husband, not my therapist, actually said this to me…but that’s beside the point.
The fact is, parenting and doing all things during the current pandemic has a tendency to make us feel like we’re failing at something.
But in reality, we’re doing our best each and every day.
Try to remember that on your good and your bad days.
And from one mom to another, please remember that you’re not alone with how you feel during this quarantine.
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