Quarantine sucks, especially for moms. We’re the gatekeepers of our family’s routine, the trackers of all the things. One would think that cutting off all social interaction and isolating at home would give us some reprieve—a break from the chaos of keeping track of birthday parties, invites and presents; juggling school or sports practice pick-ups and drops; scheduling date nights and girls nights out; and keeping track of that one damn shoe that is NEVER where you (or your kid) left it. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been my experience, or the experience of any mother I know over these last eight months.
In fact, it’s been the opposite. We’ve seen increased rates of stress, depression, anxiety and substance use and abuse. Mothers are more stressed out than ever before. Parenting is hard. And parenting in the midst of a pandemic has created new challenges. Whether you’re a working parent trying to juggle distance learning while holding conference calls and meetings, or a stay at home parent adjusting to having your kids and your partner around all.the.time, or a single parent trying to navigate life without outside help, we’re all struggling. So, what do we do?
We (being superheroes) are trying to do it all, and we’re making ourselves crazy. We’re bending over backwards to maintain some sense of normalcy for our children and families—we’re trying new recipes, cooking dinners and baking bread. We’re designing at-home scavenger hunts and letter of the week activity centers. We’re our children’s parents, playmates, confidants and entertainment—24/7. And all the while, we’re silently judging ourselves for not having it figured out yet…just eight months into a global pandemic that has effectively changed our lives forever. And that silent judgement? It just creates more stress and anxiety and depression. News flash: It’s time to let it go.
4 things we can all let go in quarantine:
- Self-Care. The concept of self-care is delightful, yet it’s kind of like a unicorn—a mythical thing we all talked about and some of us even did before quarantine…brunch with girlfriends, massages, manicures, pedicures…alas, these things are literally not even possible right now. So, what if we redefined self-care, quarantine style? Find 10, 20, 30 minutes, maybe even an hour, in your week or day to do something to take care of yourself and your mental health. There are so many little things we can do at-home, alone, or even in the same room as others. These days, self-care is taking a long shower, asking my partner (or older children) to get up with the kids one morning a week, listening to podcasts (which are great way to feel connected to other people, learn something, and laugh—some suggestions here), and having “mommy quiet time” (I set a 5-minute timer when my kids can’t ask me for anything). While quarantine self-care looks a lot different than what it used to, it is achievable, and it helps.
- Cooking. Making a meal for your family is one of the many ways we take care of others and nourish our bodies. For some, it is calming and enjoyable. Since quarantine, it’s become stressful and anxiety producing—going to the grocery store is now an event, a somewhat traumatic event, at that. Do we have masks?…grocery lists?…reusable bags?…hand sanitizer?…disinfecting wipes? Oh, and who’s going to watch my kids? Are they coming with me? Do I have their masks? And then you have to cook, which creates dishes to wash, and more ‘stuff’ for you to do. If you can afford it, eat out, just once a month or once a week. Let someone else do the cooking. In fact, order an extra meal or sides so you have leftovers for a second meal. Mini-frozen pizzas have become a staple in my house. We buy a box of frozen cheese pizzas and a bunch of toppings. Everybody gets to make their own with minimal prep and minimal clean up. Casseroles and crockpot meals have also become a quarantine favorite (recipes here).
- Cleanliness. Keeping a clean and tidy home has its mental health benefits for sure. And I am not suggesting we all stop doing the dishes, changing our sheets, taking showers, or doing the laundry. The difference between “normal times” and now is everyone in your home is there all.the.time. Humans are messy. Give yourself, and the people in your home some grace (seriously, no one is coming over, so let it go). Live out of the clean laundry basket if it saves you from another ‘to do’ on your list of things you resent having to do right now. We have a system—everyone has a “clean” basket, no one has to fold or put anything away—just take from the clean basket and put it in the hamper when you take it off. It’s not pretty, but it works.
- Screen Time. We all know the benefits of limited screen time, especially for children. We get it. But after the 5th hour and the millionth question of the day, I need a break. If I have to choose between losing my cool (aka yelling at my kids) and plopping them in front of the TV, a tablet or video game, I’m going to choose the latter. Our nerves are shot, we’re stressed and exhausted, and we need a break. Screen time is just that—a break—for the adults AND the kids. Screen time gives me 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to think, have a cup of coffee, change the laundry (that I don’t fold), communicate with my partner, or schedule an online therapy session or couples therapy (because we all need it!). At the same time, it gives my kids some time to check out and do something independently (educational resources here). It’s okay to reduce the restrictions on screen time right now, especially if it means I can be a better parent in the long run.
As we head into the holidays, in the middle of a pandemic, after a tumultuous election season, we can all benefit from having a bit more grace with ourselves. We can put aside the rigidity and expectations, and the judgement. Find what works for you and your family and let go of the rest.
Follow these 3 easy steps to get support during this unprecedented time:
- Click here to schedule a free consultation
- Meet with one of our caring and qualified therapists
- Begin therapy from the comfort of your own home
Other Mental Health Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
Life is complex and therefore a person’s mental health needs are often complex as well. At Moxie Family Therapy, we offer psychotherapy for women, teens, girls, and families with many different mental health needs in our Orange County Counseling Clinic or via Online Counseling. Moxie Family Therapy provides include treatment for loneliness, therapy for trauma (EMDR) counseling for young adults, counseling for college students, couples counseling, counseling for teens, counseling for women, counseling for children, play therapy, art therapy, and family therapy. While most of our clients are local to Orange County, our online services allow us to help anyone in the state of California. The road you’ve been on is difficult, but we believe you deserve healing. Call to start therapy, and together with your therapist, you’ll start a new journey toward healing.