It is midnight as I write this.
My 5 year old daughter has just fallen asleep for the second time after waking up. She was throwing a tantrum about not being able to put on her princess dress. She was also set on practicing her online dance recital that is supposed to take place virtually in three short weeks.
Prior to that meltdown, my two boys braved through a “Mom’s special” haircut. It was a moment that made me realize why barber school was never an avenue I pursued. Thankfully, they are both very forgiving.
And then there is my bedroom. Once a peaceful sanctuary, it morphed overnight into a multi-purpose space now accommodating everything from a home office, to our kid’s classroom, to a movie theater/game room, even a pool! Yes, a swimming pool. This was the latest transformation as my daughter rediscovered her love of swimming by forgetting to turn the water off at bath time.
“It’s a good thing I caught it before the water reached your bedroom carpet!” she said proudly. This made me chuckle.
What. A. Day.
The New Normal
It’s hard to believe that today wasn’t much different than the last 41 days. I’ve spent nearly all of them working from home while trying to keep things relatively familiar. All of us, for that matter, have had to make wild adjustments to our lives. Here are a few things that have helped me cope. I hope at the very least, they give you a sense of assurance that you are not alone if you are finding these times downright difficult.
Give Yourself Grace
My son, Grayson, was struggling with a math problem as he worked through his assignment online. “My teacher never taught me this!” and “I’m getting so mad at myself!” were his frustrated responses. Math is this kid’s jam, so I knew that his struggle went beyond the actual math problem. We had a great talk about his struggles with distance learning and how important it is to be flexible and forgiving during this time – to others and to himself.
I had to remind myself of this tonight. We will have moments, days, weeks even, where things seem much more challenging than others. If these times feel extremely overwhelming…it’s because they are. We are juggling Zoom calls for work with Zoom calls with our kids’ teachers and classmates. We are trying to complete work from our makeshift offices while supporting our children in their school work as well. All of this under the same roof at the same time.
Be kind to yourself. Recognize the significance of the work you are doing at this very moment. We are in the midst of a pandemic and we are still chugging along, making it through these days a little stronger and more adaptable than before.
Be Honest with Yourself
When I was a new teacher, I was a “yes” girl. If it needed to get done, you can bet I was one they would ask. For the first eight years of my teaching, I cannot remember turning down a single project. Heck, I would be up until the early morning hours if that’s what it took to complete task #436. It was wearing me down.
I found myself alone at school into the late hours of the night on too many occasions. It took awhile, but I began to realize that maybe I wasn’t doing what was best for me. Could I do it? Yes. Should I do it? Probably not. So ask yourself, “Is it necessary that I get this done right now?” If the answer is no, then be okay with letting it go in that moment.
The expectations we put on ourselves are often much higher than the expectations that others have of us. So, if you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out, give yourself permission to put some things on pause. For those of us who are parents, it is important that our kids understand this as well. Model this for them and give them permission to do the same.
I know, giant eye-roll, right?! I am an eternal optimist and even I can say that lately this isn’t the easiest thing to do. Still, during these most challenging times, a positive outlook can go a long way. Remind yourself everyday that you’re doing a good job and spread that sentiment to others as well. We all could use a little encouragement and support right now.
Together, we will get through this. We will come out stronger, more resilient, more flexible, and hopefully, more understanding than we have ever been before. I love the answer my daughter gave when I randomly asked her, “What do you do when life gives you lemons?” Her response, “Find the sugar and pour it on them to make them sweeter.” It’s a good reminder that even on our most sour days, we can always find ways to make them even a little bit sweeter.