Our lives have shifted. For each of us, that shift looks a little different - in some cases, a lot different. As Mother’s Day approaches, we wanted to get a pulse on what life looks like now as Chief Mom, so we asked a group of moms to share their experiences on how this shift has affected them personally. As we reviewed their responses, some prominent themes came to light.
Appreciate the here and now
As a society, we have programmed ourselves to run at a speed so fast that we might even surpass the record-holding Boston Marathon runner. Can you imagine running a marathon (26.2 miles) in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 2 seconds? Nor can we! Then why is it that we have programmed ourselves to believe that we can run our lives at such a pace EVERY DAY? This forced shift of letting go of our to-do list has given us the time to slow down - if even just a little bit - and focus on the here and now. Instead of rushing from one place to another we have the time to reevaluate our priorities and question what we can let go of in the future when the decision is finally up to us. When taking a stroll with her daughter that took twice as long as it normally would, one mom stated, “It hit me during that walk how many of life's most special moments happen unplanned and without being rushed.” Can we get an amen?! If that didn’t quite hit you enough, let it sink in. There are so many magical moments that we have been missing because we have been focused on what we perceive to be our priorities. The beauty is that we have the opportunity to embrace the here and now AND make that sentiment stick once we are able to get closer to a state of normal.
We are on a roller coaster of emotions
No matter how big or small the current challenges may be most of us are on a roller coaster of emotions. Whether it’s anxiety from not being able to complete tasks, frustration from a lack of control and loss of freedom, or anger boiling up due to the elimination of the necessary recharge and refresh time, we are feeling the ups and downs of emotions daily - if not minute to minute. What many moms do not realize is that these emotions we are feeling are related to a constant state of trauma. Yes, you heard that right. Ever since our world has been shifted upside down our mind and body have been in a constant state of fight or flight. In a blog post by Parasole Wellness Collaborative, Why am I so Tired?, they explain that the fear center of our brain, the amygdala, has been in a constant state of “on”. Unlike other traumatic situations like a hurricane where the destruction takes place and moves on so the rebuilding process can begin, we are in a universe of unknowns without the ability to rebuild. It is because of this that our bodies cannot fire the appropriate calming, rest and heal parasympathetic response to get us out of the fight or flight mode. And this friends, is why we feel so EXHAUSTED even if we haven’t done enough physical or mental activity to make us feel this way. So what are we to do if we can’t control the physiological workings of our mind and body? The answer is to look for ways that can help us feel better with the current life we have been given.
Routine. Routine. Routine.
So we can’t control our physiology but we can control some sense of routine in this new world. If you had a routine down before, you can create a new one now. If you didn’t have a routine before what better time than now to establish one. Throughout the answers given by our expert moms, routines were key to their success. Whether it was meal prepping for the week ahead, scheduling which parent was on kid duty, or penciling in some me-time during nap time, routines were the key to their sanity. So where do you start? Routines are not a one size fits all. What works for your friend may not work for you and visa versa. The key is to just start somewhere with an area that needs the most attention and develop a plan from there. You can craft it as you go. And, remember, just as our lives have been shifted, so will your routine. Just flex and give you and your family some grace to adjust in this time together.
Mother Nature Knows Best
Have you noticed that thing in the sky? Yeah, that big yellow thing. That’s the sun! Spring and summer are finally here and they couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Fresh air provides a fresh perspective, and our group of moms mentioned that they felt refreshed and energized after getting outside in the fresh air. Their favorite activities to enjoy outdoors were running, walking, and playing and picnicking in the backyard. It’s truly amazing how your mind takes you elsewhere when you are able to look at the beauty outside of your four walls.
Connectivity looks different
Thank goodness for technology! Can we get another amen?! Although we can’t connect in person we still have the ability to “see” family and friends. Many moms told us of the funny stories they had while on virtual happy hours with friends or during Sunday night calls with family. Funny enough, recipe sharing or recipe creations were a common theme amongst our respondents. One food-loving mom joined a Facebook group called ‘socially distanced gourmets’ where they post photos of what they make and share recipes. “It’s been a fun way to gather inspiration and feel connected to people even when stuck at home. It’s a low level commitment as well which I love right now,” she said. So it goes to show that family, friends and food hold everything together - they are the necessary ingredients to life no matter what shift you are in.
Me time has never been more important
The last theme that struck a chord was me-time. Finding time to recharge the batteries and refresh mentally is few and far between. As if it wasn’t hard before, now it is seemingly impossible to get five minutes alone to just do, you. When before you had the excuse to turn work off when you got home or you weren’t able to make a commitment because something else came up, now there is really no excuse. Except there is. You. Your excuse is me-time and that is OK. Even though you can be virtual you don’t need to feel obligated to be virtual all the time. Turn off your phone. Step away from the screen. Unplug. As mentioned before, take the time to get outside or hide away. Whether it’s five or 30 minutes, be sure to take your ME time. It’s a basic survival need, afterall.
It’s apparent with these themes that even though we are each in our own boat, we are navigating the shifts of this storm together. As you take the time to celebrate a mom in your life or the amazing work you are doing as a mom, remember to soak in the here and now, take a breath of fresh air and find some time to just do you.