Finding balance in my life right now is hard. I think most people can relate. But then there are others that are just going all in, one way or another, on something they find to be their best coping mechanism. I have some friends that are training for marathons in their down time (my husband), and some that are making drinks with breakfast (no judgement here). Because with a global pandemic, there are no rules, right?
But where is the happy medium? Where do we find the place in the middle for those of us that don’t have the time to do “all the things” that we see these people accomplishing on social media? Those of us that are trying our best to avoid the harmful coping mechanisms that we know could send us down a distructive path if we were to do them every day?
I have found myself feeling overwhelmed with my basic daily activities to a point where trying to get anything additional accomplished is simply not in the cards. Learning a new skill? Nope. Getting my house organized? Not going to happen. Finally reading that book that has been sitting on my nightstand for months? Not a chance.
Because I have kids.
And parenting in general is hard. Parenting during a pandemic when your kids are home all day and have to do school work is even harder. And trying to parent and do school work while working full time from home? Forget it. Add to the mix a spouse that is working outside of the home still, and life is just barely hanging by a thread.
The other day I managed to go for a walk with a close friend of mine. We were supposed to run a 5k that day, but my training has gone so far off course that running was not really in the cards for me. And the 5k was cancelled, so what was the point, right? At first I felt like I was letting her down, and had let myself down, because I had let myself get lazy while working from home. Then my sweet friend reminded me along our walk that we not only need to give ourselves some grace right now, but we also need to find some sort of balance. But how? How can we find the time to still try to work on our goals right now when just getting through the day feels like an accomplishment in itself?
For me, it starts with baby steps. And by that I mean simply getting dressed in the morning and brushing my teeth. I know, for most people this is normal no matter what day it is, but for me? Not so much. I deal with depression. And anxiety. And for a mother who has lost a child, the anxiety I feel during this pandemic is of epic proportions. So pajamas and coffee? My go-to saviors right now. The things that keep me going on my bad days. But to make my bad days better, I get dressed. It may be small, but it helps. Does it happen every day? Nope. Sometimes not even every other day. I think my son is trying to subtly tell me that I need to be a bit more presentable more often. Today he wore his catholic school uniform all day. I felt very under dressed, so I threw on clean gym shorts and a tank top without ice cream stains.
Possibly the hardest thing for me to do when stuck at home all day long is to drink enough water. On the hottest of days I harp on my kids constantly to stay hydrated, but I am by far the worst example of this. Some days I’m lucky if I accidentally swallow some water when I brush my teeth in the morning. Other days I survive on coffee and spiked selzter. I know what your thinking… and no, I’m not even going to address it. Like I said before- it’s a pandemic. There are no rules.
One thing I have gotten fairly good at lately is avoiding social media. Which you may have noticed if you follow this page on Facebook. Yes, I’m still alive. I am just avoiding the million posts about diets, nutrition, the best running gear, and how to lose 10 lbs in two weeks. I’m taking the other approach to the pandemic nutrition plan. I call it, “How to gain 10 pounds while trying every type of dairy free ice cream and cookie you can find at the store”. I’m thinking about writing a book about this plan, because I have to say it works like a charm. And it’s very satisfying.
The one thing that I am really trying my hardest to get better at is this parenting thing. The stress of working from home and barely leaving my house for days on end has my patience and temper on a short fuse. One nasty look or smart remark from one of my kids, and I am likely to lose my ever loving mind with them. Tensions have been high in my house the last few days, and as hard as I try, I can’t seem to keep a level head. On the rare occasions I am able to keep my cool, the child that is witnessing such strange behavior from me freaks out because I’m now taking it too easy on their sibling, and it “just isn’t fair”.
And then there is the never ending battle over their school work. It’s come down to me having to ask my husband to check that my daughter has actually done her work, because if I even say the word “school”, she starts screaming her head off at me to leave her alone. It’s like the secret word that calls Beattlejuice to take over her body, make her head spin in circles and spit venom at me. I don’t know if anyone still performs exorcisms around here anymore, but that may have to be next Google search.
I don’t know how much longer we have of this, but one thing I do know is that we will find a way to make it through. If we all just stay true to who we are, and try our best to make each day a little better than the last, in the end we can be proud of how we handled ourselves. We don’t need to turn our homes into Martha Stuarts next magazine cover, or learn how to knit a sweater for our great Aunt Pam. Some days we may take a nice walk in the sunshine to clear our heads, or maybe even jog a little if it feels right. But if we don’t run 10 miles on day one, that’s perfectly normal. The goal here is to survive.
So let’s remind ourselves to give grace not only to ourselves, but also to those around us. For the days when we don’t feel like putting real clothes on. The days when we just need to rest with our coffee for a bit longer, and maybe forget to drink our water. The days when sitting by the pool watching our kids swim seems sweeter than fighting over school work. The days when you see the tired Mom still in her pajamas sneaking into the gas station with her mask on to grab a case of spiked seltzer at 10 am.
Sometimes I forget that I’m still in my pajamas before I leave the house. There have even been days that I forget to brush my teeth. But on the days I remember both, I give myself a big pat on the back, because I feel like I’ve won first place in the Mom of the Year competition.