To all the mamas out there who suddenly feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders…I SEE YOU.
The mental load is overloaded.
But let’s narrow our focus today on the most important part of being a mom: YOUR KIDDOS.
You may feel like you have to navigate homeschooling (whether the school sent homework or not) to ensure they are entertained and educated, in addition to feeling loved and being fed, bathed, having clean clothes, limiting screen time, ensuring their mental health is looked after, spending quality time with them, and all the other million things I KNOW you’re thinking about.
You’re exhausted before you even get out of bed.
BREATHE, mama. BREATHE.
If schedules work for you, great. A lot of us need structure so put one together that works for YOUR family and gives you and your children security and space to breathe.
If schedules give you the heebie-jeebies, no worries at all. A lot of us are winging it, so take each day as it comes and do what works for you in any given moment.
But if you’re stuck in between: not wanting the weight of having a rigid schedule, but also not wanting anarchy…
What do you do?
Create grounding rituals.
Say what now?
One of the biggest disruptions to our way of life has been the loss of the familiar. You know… knowing when to get up, get washed and dressed, eat breakfast, drive to work, knowing that Mondays are for meetings…
Kids knowing they need to get dressed, go to school and it’s day 2 so they have math, or band…
Knowing that we get home and have an hour with the math tutor, and dinner is at 6pm…
Our familiar is gone.
Just because we’re home doesn’t mean we’re comfortable.
So one of the most important things you can do during this crisis is create rituals to maintain a sense of normalcy and familiarity. It’s not only important for your kids, but for you, too.
Some suggestions include (do as many or as few as work for you):
Wake up and go to bed at the same time every night.
It may be tempting to let anarchy reign and have the kids sleep in every day for those few glorious extra kid-free hours, but you’ll regret it at bedtime when they’re still wide awake at 1am. It’ll also make it harder to get them back into a routine when we resume outside life.
Try to eat one meal as a family every day.
Give all of you something to look forward to that you can easily maintain and gives the kids a sense of expectation and connection.
Go for a morning (or afternoon or evening) walk.
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t go outdoors. (But do so safely.) If you’re on lockdown, spend some time in the backyard every day, like a recess from life. Keep the timing as consistent as possible.
Have a set time for work / school work.
Let the kids know that during certain hours they need to work on school work or keep themselves entertained. Have older kids watch the younger ones while you get some tasks done.
Get the kids involved in household stuff.
Give them a household task that is their responsibility consistently (if you weren’t already doing so). Make it their job to set the table for your family meal. Get them to dust every other day. Assign them to sort laundry as it comes out of the dryer.
Have an evening ritual.
Whether it’s bath and books, family movie or TV time, or simply a snuggle as you talk about the day, let there be something to signal the end of the day that everyone knows and looks forward to. (My girls and I snuggle in the tween’s bed and do silly face filters every night before settling in to read a book.)
The ritual itself isn’t important. What’s important is recreating a sense of normalcy and familiarity. Our brains crave order and comfort. If there’s something in every day that can help ground you, everything else becomes easier.
The reality is we don’t KNOW how long this Covid-19 crisis is going to last. So whatever we create right now to help maintain a sense of order needs to be something we can maintain long term.
And it won’t be perfect right away. There will be trial and error. There will be push back. There will be days when you DO let them sleep til noon because you just need space.
It’s okay. No one is watching. No one is judging.
We are all literally in the same boat…but that doesn’t mean we all have to fit into the same life jacket. (How’s that for a clumsy analogy?)