Motherhood During Crisis
As our community struggles with the COVID-19 crisis, mothers are experiencing great changes as they try to find the “new normal.”This is especially true of working mothers, both those who worked outside the home and “momeprenuers” who own businesses and work from a home office. The current crisis has turned their lives upside down. They are now being asked to become an octopus, working eight full-time jobs all at the same time. Mothers are still responsible for being a mom each day, working their full-time job, and now, they are also responsible for being a homeschool teacher or teaching assistant with kids on distance learning programs. Many are now the full-time cook, needing to prepare meals three times per day—especially if the family has food allergies or special needs. If they were not before, they are the cleaning lady, and if they are a single parent, they also take on the role of Dad. This is too much, with the expectations of what normal looked like just five weeks ago.
Mothers are putting extra stress on themselves trying to ensure it is all perfect and happening like everything is still normal. The world is not normal now. We do not leave our homes. We do not have other mom friends to talk to at work or the park. We have lost our nannies and cleaning ladies. Moms cannot expect to be 100% perfect in all of these jobs. The moms are breaking. We are breaking and when we break, what will our families do?
As women, we are strong and take on everything thrown at us with smiles on our faces. I keep telling myself, “If Eleanor Roosevelt could raise five kids while running the White House, then I got this.” The truth is I do not have this. I broke. I cried, my energy cup drained, and then I asked for help. I am grateful for my husband who realized and cared to listen. And, I am thankful for my girls who realize that I am not an octopus. I can only do one thing at a time. I am also working with my personal coach to acknowledge it cannot all be done; I need to choose what I can control and let the rest go. If the girls do not attend school, I have decided it is their choice. And, if I wear my sweaty workout clothes all day that is ok,right? As a mom, sometimes you need to take up a journal and write—or rant—how you are feeling each day, then get a clean sheet of paper and make a list of three things to complete today.
It’s important to acknowledge that we cannot do the old normal anymore. Acknowledgment of where we are emotionally and spiritually is key during this crisis. Moms need to acknowledge themselves and what they are being asked to do. Family members need to acknowledge mom for what she is doing to support the family and home.
Conscious parenting is the second key during this crisis. Mothers can help their children by giving them the independence to try and do things on their own. The Montessori model is a great place to look for examples. Allow the children to pick out their own clothes and get ready in the morning. Release the idea the child’s hair or outfit needs to be perfect or match. Allow the child to make their own snack or make their own breakfast, as well as other things they know how to do, like help clean their roomor the house with you and your spouse.
As a mother, be mindful of the words used with the children right now, as they are also experiencing separation and anxiety from “normal” life. The child’s world is not normal either. They are unable to go play with neighbors and friends. They are not on summer break and know they still have school but without the needed structure. Allow the child to communicate with their teacher and help only if you are actually needed. Many elementary students already know how tosend emails. If the child decides today is not a good day for school or they want to sleep in the middle of the day, let them. Have a mindful conversation around what they are feeling and acknowledge them for their strength and smiles they bring the family. This time will change them, similar to children who lived during the Great Depression. The COVID-19 crisis will give our children a sense of independence and strength if we allow it. They can come out of this more resilient, having learned the valuable life lesson of how to operate under stress. Open communication and conversations will give the adults of tomorrow more strength.
Healthful, conscious food choices are another important key during this crisis. As many moms are now faced with cooking three meals per day, we have the ability to choose what the family is consuming. We have an opportunity to choose health for them through food. Our families need to be eating more living foods to have the energy to thrive during this crisis. Mothers can do this by keeping fresh fruit and veggies readily available for snacks, offering a fruit smoothie for breakfast (perhaps your child can make their own smoothie and be creative), and limiting the amount of processed and package food available in the house. The new food pyramid suggests we consume 50% veggies and 25% fruit. This means mothers need about six cups of veggies and four cups of fruit each day. By choosing veggies and fruit first our bodies will have increased energy and our immune system will grow stronger. Raw and living foods have the vital nutrients cells need to be healthy, aid in digestion and produce radiant skin. Children need at least four cups a day of fruit and veggies. Leverage the current over-abundance of produce at the store or through a delivery service. If you are afraid to stock up due to produce going bad, try cutting and freezing your favorites for later use. To save time in the kitchen each day, utilize meal prepping techniques or try using time-saving tools like a crock-pot for evening meals or morning oatmeal.
Mothers, we have to change. We have to choose peace during this time and break the old normal, to become stronger and create the new world our families need. This experience of being a mother living in a crisis is not unique. Women have done this for thousands of years. Open your heart and ask for guidance. We are all in this together.