I was in a state of shock for days when school announced its closure through the end of the year. “Mom,” my kids asked, “this is no big deal, right? How old were you when this happened last time?” I had to explain that the last pandemic took place in 1918.
A month into this journey of uncertainty, I have learned a few things about myself….
1. I am Resourceful
I had to figure out why my kids could not function without me for an hour. They don’t know how to be bored! They have no idea what to do with themselves when the devices and TV are turned off… This was an opportunity I couldn’t let pass to teach my children the value of having each other and their own imagination! I realized that not only did my family need to forge a new path for what is “normal,” my kids had to become more involved in household matters.
Meals, shopping and chore habits had to change. My family had to begin to contribute in new ways. I got tired of my own cooking very quickly. I set up a weekly menu where my kids and husband had to choose and help with meals. Then I redistributed chores so I didn’t lose my mind cleaning. ‘Nobody’ makes the mess, so everyone suffers!
I also orchestrated virtual “Girls Nights” for myself because I needed a time-out. I needed time with my friends to grab wine and meet online!
2. I am Resilient
I felt like I had been plunged into this new dimension without control or a pail to bail myself out. Moms are not allowed the luxury of hiding for hours for a good cry into our Margarita glasses. We have to think fast and change course when needed to keep our homes stable. I learned that I can appreciate teachers but still advocate for my kids. It is necessary to have a voice for them so that their education isn’t lost in the teacher’s inbox. The work was overwhelming. I cried. They cried. Something had to give. I emailed teachers and principals repeatedly. I advocated for my kids when their work took too long, when the assignment-scavenger-hunt needed to stop, when boundaries had to be made to keep eyeballs off devices. I became more involved with faculty affairs. I was happy to contribute to the development of the social distancing program at their school.
Ultimately, I was able to adjust. There are still bad days, but more are better, and I realized that there is nothing more important than my sanity! Moms around the world are spending 24/7 with family. My sanity is more important than stressing the small stuff. When I’m relaxed, my household is a happy one.
3. I am Disciplined
Like many mommas, I put together a schedule (which lasted a week) and a list of activities (that lasted less time). While the structure did not last, it did put things in perspective for us. I knew that my kids thrived on routine, but the routine was not easy to implement!
A habit takes 21 days to form. Those first days are difficult. But with a little self-discipline, you can accomplish anything! Whether that includes getting up earlier, facilitating school, learning something new, or finding time to exercise. I found that my job was to make a daily checklist to avoid anxiety and to simplify the process. I was very proud of myself for maintaining a standard for schoolwork and home when I learned that they were only going to receive a pass/fail grade.
4. I am Grateful
I have never been one to keep up with the news, it was always bad and brought me down or made me anxious. Most of my news came from Facebook friends’. Learning and sharing information has prompted discussions to share with my family. Every day, I could see my kids becoming better friends than enemies. If they keep one thing from this experience, I hope it is the knowledge that they will always have each other. The stay-at-home order has prompted me to turn to my faith and loved ones. To think about our freedoms. It is so important to communicate to those we don’t see often and pray for them. This experience reminded me how much I have.
5. I am (still) ME`
After COVID, it became more imperative to find time for my kids, my husband, and myself. I had to come to terms with being the rope in the daily tug-of-war… it forced me to sit back and evaluate my priorities. So many moms (including myself) go through a bit of an identity crisis when all they have to talk about revolves around their children. Hobbies? I have kids!
I found time for my mental health, I was in danger of losing myself. I still needed time for me even when my favorite things to do, like going out for coffee or dancing, weren’t an option anymore. I turned to journaling and reflecting on what part of the new-normal I want to keep once the old-normal becomes ‘normal’ again. I want to spend more time with my family and less time in the car and being busy. More time sharing and accomplishing projects together and less time arguing. Now I know what I truly need. I need my family to get along. I need more yoga pants and warm socks. I need time to exercise and sit in a quiet place. I need time alone with my husband. I need to be myself. I have changed from this experience. I will never forget the uncertainty I had in myself and how I overcame these trials – for them.
Mom of 7th Grader and Special Needs 4th Grader
Blogger, Writer, Financial Educator