Staying Mentally Tough while Parenting during a Pandemic

The second you become a mommy (or parent) your life becomes less about yourself and all about the tiny human(s) you brought into this world. Our minds are constantly trying to stay 10 steps ahead, brainstorming every possible outcome, solution, need and want for every scenario (planned or unplanned) that might come up. This, in a normal, everyday climate, can be exhausting and overwhelming.

Now add in our new normal of an ever-changing pandemic that the world is quickly trying to understand but truthfully doesn’t know much about, an uncertain economy, family financial strain, kids with broken daily routines who don’t understand why, working from home, suddenly being unemployed and/or furloughed, and you have a recipe that might make any parent’s head explode. Although each of us is in a different scenario (some better than others), this can be a lot to handle no matter your circumstances.

It’s important to understand that although things feel completely out of control, you have more control than you realize. It’s imperative to remember that you get what you focus on and if you consume yourself with negative thoughts and allow yourself to spiral down the rabbithole of what if’s and fear that you won’t be able to be mentally tough enough to get through the day to day.

Right now is the time where you need to be a warrior not only for your littles ones but for your family. Your mental toughness and can-do attitude will be the driving force on how those around you react and feel. Never forget that a positive attitude can and will change everything.

Will you have to put in the work? Yes! That’s undeniable. Will this be hard? Yes! But, you’ve accomplished more than you give yourself credit for and it’s important now more than ever that your remember that. You have people who are counting on you!

How do you get to a place where you can somewhat mentally safeguard yourself from the anxiety? Well, it’s going to take breaking the chain of living a life of repetition and going through the motions, to allow you to be present, impactful and strengthen your mental state and toughness.

Perspective is powerful and I can honestly say that I’ve gotten to a place where I’m actually enjoying the extra time I have with my little family. It took some time to adjust, but I also made some changes when I realized I might not be setting myself up for mental success.

Here are some of the things that I did that helped me gain a little perspective and also helped me manage the stress associated with our new reality.

Limit the amount of news you allow yourself to watch or consume.

I noticed I was slowly becoming addicted to knowing everything I could about the virus, what news outlets and the government were saying, and so on. Between constantly checking news apps on my phone, watching the briefings and press conferences on television and obsessively checking the CDC and WHO websites, my life had quickly turned into information overload. One thing was clear, the more information I consumed, the more I felt scared, stressed and anxious. The fear of what if was so strong that I felt overwhelmed especially since our lives had been turned upside basically overnight.

It took taking a step back for me to realize how detrimental the pursuit of constant knowledge was on my entire psyche. I now only allow myself to check the news once a day. I also make a point not to read or get any news from social media outlets like Facebook. I only go to one news app I trust and one statistics website that is purely data and analytics, to allow me to see the facts and not the thousands of opinions and speculation out there. These safeguards have helped me shift my mind and focus. Is the news still scary? Yes! Are we far away from this being over? Unfortunately, maybe! But at least now, I’m in control of how much of that I want to absorb and see.

Do no watch or talk about the news in front of your children.

Kids are smart and curious. They pay attention to what you are watching and/or talking about. Think back to when your were a child. How many times did your parents think you had no idea what was going on, when in all actuality you were fully aware of what they were talking about and in a lot of those scenarios those conversations or topics might have been too heavy for you to understand in the moment. The global situation is impacting your kids and their natural curiosity will make them want to know what’s happening and why. It important that you decide what your kids can handle and how much they know. This is a personal decision between you and your child(ren). The last thing you want is for that information to be given without you realizing it because you weren’t aware they could hear or see something that might be to much for them to understand.

Have open discussions with your family about how they are feeling.

It’s important to check in with everyone in your family on how there day is going. We tend to do this over breakfast and dinner in our house. It allows us to not only bond but to feel “normal.” Although we are with each other all day, things happen throughout the day that are still special. This will also teach you a lot about what your family thought their peak and pit of the day was. You can then expand upon those exciting moments in days to come so you all can make this time more fun and exciting as a family unit. How do you want your family to remember this time? I want mine to remember all the fun we had together. That’s my driver.

Reach out to friends and family to check in on them.

I try to make a point to call or shoot out a quick text more often than not. There is a big world out there and although we feel trapped in our homes, it’s important to still stay connected. Get off the social platforms and call, FaceTime, Skype or text them. It will go along way and actually make you feel better too. I’ve had some amazing conversations over the phone with family and friends where I found myself laughing harder than I had in a long time. I used to avoid talking on the phone like the plague, but now I look forward to those conversations.

Don’t get consumed by other people’s actions.

At the end of the day, you have to accept you cannot control other people’s decisions regarding how they will handle what is going on. You can, however, control how you and your family operate during these uncertain times. It’s easy to get angry and frustrated with others regarding the decisions they are or are not making that might be different than yours. It, inevitably, is their prerogative no matter how much you want to shake them and wish they would change their actions or decisions. Never forget your focus should 100% be on your immediate family unit. You can reduce the risk within your own family and make decisions that will directly impact you guys. Focus on them and forget about the things that you don’t have the free will to control. All changes inevitable start with you anyways.

Keep yourself busy with positive things.

Pick up a hobby. Garden in your yard. Try to cook a new recipe. Read that book you’ve been saying you wanted to check out. The list goes on and on with possibilities. You have the time now to actually try the things that you always said you would “if you had more time.”

I’ve always boasted that I’m not a “housewife” and that domestic style stuff isn’t my thing, but lately I started baking and gardening which has brought me a lot of joy and calm. I get excited to send pictures to my friends and family (mostly because they are as shocked as I am that I’m actually doing that), but also because it’s outside of my comfort zone and typical norm.

Don’t just plant yourself in front of the television.

Although it’s fun to binge watch new shows, this should not consume your all day every day. Be present in these moments and limit the amount of television you are watching. It important to get out of this habit because it’s not stimulating you mentally at all. Plus, you are missing out on valuable time to actually make memories with your loved ones.

Go outside and enjoy the sunshine! (Of course, while observing social distancing).

One of the best parts of my day is watching my daughter run around and play outside in our backyard. She absolutely loves it. We play with bubbles, draw with chalk on the sidewalk and play with her outdoor toys. She is so excited the second we talk about going outside that it instantly brings a smile to her face. I find the experience each day to be so calming. The sun shining down on me combined with the joy of my daughter brings so much piece to my soul. It’s crazy how much I look forward to this.

If I can leave you with one last thought, please never forget that this will pass. We just need to be patient and ride it out. You have two choices. You can torture yourself the entire way or take the path that allows you to have fun, be thankful and appreciate the blessing you do have and the time we are being given with our little ones. Life is about the moments, memories and stories we share together. Carpe diem!