Corona-cation Survival Guide for Moms
Written by Madeline Vann, NCC, M.Ed. at White Cloud Therapeutic Services
This is the maximum staycation none of us signed up for, with an extra job description or two thrown in for good measure (and a great deal of social pressure to sparkle while you do them!). I’ve spoken with numerous parents recently who are just overwhelmed at everything they are supposed to do, including keeping the kids focused and productive in the new distance learning environment. Managing your own grief, irritation, anxiety and frustration (and tighter budget) at the same time is simply an added challenge.
So let me just be the first to tell you – you’re doing alright. If you get to the end of the day and everyone is still alive and nothing has been set on fire, I’m going to call it a good day. Yes, we all have that one friend who is using this time with her still well-groomed children to plant an organic vegetable garden, advance their math learning two grades, and re-enact Ancient Greek tragedies using barbies and army figures, but honestly, I’m talking to you, not her.
Here’s a survival guide for you, based on everything I am learning and experiencing along with you as a mom and a counselor working from home:
Outdoors is not cancelled. I can’t stress this enough. Get outside yourself, alone if you can, and also with the kids. Listen to the birds (scientists have proven birdsong physically de-stresses us!). Go someplace where you can see running water, lots of greenery, and plenty of birds. Walk, run, bike or hike and wear the kids out every single day. Bounce with them on the trampoline, if that’s your thing. For those of us who also need to feel productive, this is an excellent time to clean up the yard — recruit your kids to help.
Keep your sense of humor. This might take some intentional work, it’s true, because the uncertainty, stress, and exhaustion make everything less funny. Find ways to keep laughing, whether it’s keeping a written record of amusing things your children and teens say during quarantine or seeking out appropriate stand up comedy shows and movies to watch (Jim Gaffigan, anyone?)
Build a blanket fort. Younger kids will love this, if they haven’t already begged for one. If your teens frown on this, too bad. A blanket fort can be soothing for moms as well. Make it an attractive spot for quiet reading or just soothing. A tent or similarly covered patio area outside could provide the same secure benefit. Somehow it’s just easier to talk and relax in a blanket fort. If you have strings of fairy lights to add, so much the better.
Make a vision board. So much change has happened so fast we may feel like we don’t know who we are or what we want. Or perhaps we know exactly those things, and we’re missing what we had BEFORE. A vision board can help you focus on the future. Ask yourself where and who you want to be this time next year, and make a vision board about it. If you’re not sure about a vision board, work on a bucket list. For an extra challenge, do a deep dive into your values at www.lifevaluesinventory.org and find ways to move more towards your values.
Write yourself a letter from the future. Try writing a letter or.a card to yourself from April 2021. What do you want to be able to say you did successfully to get through this time? How do you want to see yourself when you look back at this time? Which of your values, rituals, and traditions would you like to say you protected and carried on. You can ask your children or teens to do something similar – or just challenge them to think about the story they will one day tell their grandchildren about the Great COVID Pandemic of 2020. Tall tales and creative interpretations welcome!
Help someone. Being of service can help you feel better. Do this on your own, or involve your family in the project. We aren’t all gift mask-sewers, so consider whether you and yours can work on hand drawn cards or letters to send to people who may be on their own at home. Donating food items, picking up litter (with protective wear and gear) and
Carve out some quiet time for yourself. Use that time for whatever you want. Guilty pleasures such as binge watching that show you love or reading pulp fiction just for fun are just fine. If you’re out of books at home, check out all the ebooks and audio books available online for free.
Make weekends special. All the days are blending together. Set weekends aside in some way. Movie nights, Family Fun Nights, longer hikes, special breakfasts or other family meals, as well as continuing to practice your faith, can give all of you a sense of beginning and ending your week.
Reconnect with friends. You can’t get together in person right now, so make the phone calls or Zoom calls or House Party app get togethers happen. I’d be willing to bet there are people you haven’t spoken to in a while who would love to hear from you now!
Schedule a tele therapy session. Sitting in your car and having a confidential chat with a counselor can give you the support your need, at least to get through the next six weeks of distance learning. Couples sessions and family sessions are also available, to provide support for your union or your family.
Counselors can help you all individually or together to find ways to appreciate one another more, communicate more clearly, reduce conflict, and address some of the issues that may be coming up as you shelter in place. And if you have a college student at home who seems to be struggling, consider a session or two for them, as well.
Those are just a few ideas for how to reconnect with yourself independent of your role as parent/teacher/chef/chore monitor. I know parents and caregivers are overwhelmed right now, not just by all the new responsibilities but by the stress of rapid change, the intense mix of emotions we are all experiencing, and not knowing how things are going to turn out. Please reach out to talk about how counseling can help. All insurers cover tele-sessions, and many counselors offer sliding scales for fees. If you mention this essay when you call, I’m offering my first session with you at no cost.
Call 757-276-7069 or email me or any of the counselors at White Cloud Therapeutic Services, LLC, if you’d like to find out more about how counseling can help you now. We take most forms of insurance, and they do cover tele therapy.
Article was written and sponsored by Resident in Counseling Madeline Vann, NCC, M.Ed. at White Cloud Therapeutic Services
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