Can we talk about what it means to be a mom in today’s world? Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a full-time working mom, a part-time working mom, a step-mom, a single mom, a dog mom (yeah, that’s not REALLY the same), you are expected to wear so many hats. Being a mom can be the hottest hat and the ugliest hat to wear. And yet still we wear the hat of a daughter, sister, employee, chef, chauffeur, booboo healer, planner, lego builder, artist, life coach, sports coach, photographer and now, enter COVID-19, academic teacher is added to that long list. The feat sounds overwhelming, exhausting, and truthfully terrifying. But everyday, as a mom, we do the impossible.
In the words of Tina Fey, “You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, “This is impossible-oh, this is impossible.” And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”
So today and tomorrow we are going to go out and tackle another day of impossible. Here are a few tips on making the impossible a little more possible.
Keep in mind, transition is hard! EASE INTO IT! Yes, it has been almost three weeks already. Say what? That’s right, we are already three weeks into this quarantine and you are doing it everyday. It may not always look pretty. It may not always feel great. But cut yourself some slack because you are doing it! If today feels overwhelming, try again tomorrow and view today as a wash. By giving ourselves room to make mistakes and keep trying, we are demonstrating for kids that it is absolutely okay to not be perfect. And for those of you who need reminding, it ABSOLUTELY IS okay to not be perfect.
Routine can help. Routine includes flexibility. It is not as rigid as a schedule. Allowing room for flexibility provides opportunities for fun and connection in the midst of this social separation. Routine provides stability and security for us and our little ones in the midst of the chaos. So, instead of scheduling work/academics from 9:30am-11:30am, try creating a routine like after outdoor play we are going to work on school work.
Be unconventional. A unique approach to parenting works. So, a unique approach to education works also. Sometimes changing our perspective on what learning looks like can do wonders. From early on, play equals learning. Who says that cannot still be true the older we are? We learn something new everytime we pick up a paint brush or build some blocks, at least I do. We learn something new when we take a hike or make an obstacle course. The more creative we can be with our learning, our work, and our lives then the less of a fight it will be.
Less is more. This mantra applies to so many areas of life and ties into tip number 6. Social distancing is making that even more apparent. Truly, one of my favorite lines is “less said is best said.” The principle remains the same. Think about how much time is spent in the classroom strictly on academics or even how much time in our offices is spent only on work related tasks. The answer is not as much as we like to think. If we allow ourselves and our kids to relax, have fun, and play, then when it is time to work more will get done and more learning will happen. If a fight breaks out, take a break. If a tantrum happens, go connect and enjoy something together and go back to the task later. Many people think this means that the child “WINS” but ideally we are on our kids team so if they win then we win and vice versa.
Have a dedicated work space. This applies to both your kiddo and you. Maybe you all end up sharing a space. Create a space that works for you so that when they are working then you can be working too. Because let’s be real, how much work gets done on a couch or on our bed? These boundaries between work and home or school and home are extremely important.
Set 3 most important tasks of the day. This also applies to working from home and teaching your kiddos. What three things are the most important for them to learn today? What three tasks absolutely have to be taken care of today? Ideally, these would be relatively short tasks taking less than an hour each. If you have a larger project that needs done, then break it down into smaller tasks toward that long term goal. That way if nothing else happens in your day except these three things, then HOORAY! The day was a success!
Schedule in YOU time. That may be time spent scrolling through social media or binging the next Tiger King or taking a bubble bath or enjoying a glass of wine with your spouse or maybe even just fitting in a shower each day. Make this time a top priority. We can take this a step further and make this carved out YOU time one of your three most important tasks of the day! What would this time look like for you? What are you missing right now that might fill your cup so that you have more to pour out tomorrow?
We are not alone in figuring out how and when to wear which hat and juggling all of them at the same time. What is your favorite hat to wear? What is your least favorite? Maybe you are an excellent planner, maybe you are super creative, maybe you are a hard worker, hone in on those strengths and try to let go of the rest. No matter what hat you are wearing today, you are more resilient than you know and you can tackle the impossible today and again tomorrow!