Parents, you have shown herculean efforts to survive the pandemic as you adjusted and pivoted to meet the needs of work and children. You conducted Zoom meetings in your bedroom to avoid the noise of a kindergarten tantrum. You joined a conference call outside in the chilly winter air so your teenager could finish a geometry test on your laptop. You took breaks from work to make sandwiches for lunch as your kitchen replaced the school cafeteria. And you worked late into the night because your days were filled with assistant teaching!
Juggling work, life, and virtual school has left many of us feeling stressed and depleted. We may be yelling more often and feeling guilty about it. It is likely we have little time to care for our own needs. Recent studies confirm what we feel – we experience added stress in our daily lives due to the pandemic.
And now parents are tasked with “getting back to normal.” We are once again filled with emotions and questions for which we have no blueprint.
Anna, mother of three, has been holding on for 13 months – working from home while supporting her children’s hybrid school schedules. As thrilled as she is that people are getting vaccinated, schools are opening, and life is moving back to normal, she is feeling as stressed as ever. Her patience is running low, and she often loses her temper with her kids. In addition, she resents that she has little time for own interests.
For many parents, just as we think the stress will lift, we feel as tense and exhausted as ever. And the expectation that the worse is over creates a mixture of feelings. We think we should feel better with the light at the end of the tunnel, yet we still feel anxious.
Learn to shift from surviving to thriving!
Honor your present reality. Really truly honor the experience you have endured and how you feel today. Because you have been in survival mode, you may not have had a chance to process your emotions. Notice and name your feelings. As we work to get back to normal, our emotions over the next many months will likely fluctuate, yet the best way to feel better is to be aware of all feelings.
Anna feels tired. Her energy level is low. And she feels sad – for the things she and her children have missed this year. It’s hard to get started on a new normal when she feels depleted.
Anna is giving herself some grace and appreciating these very real feelings. And she is imagining better days ahead. Anna envisions being calm in the everyday moments. As she moves through this transitional phase, she hopes for more energy and more time for herself.
Create a new reality. Staying calm with our kids takes intention and practice. Anna created this mantra to help in the heat-of-the-moment: Deep Breath. Now Respond. This helps to remind her to pause and breathe. When Anna stops to breathe, she is better at choosing a response rather than simply reacting.
Anna is also bringing intention to addressing her own needs. She decided to add a yoga class to her weekly schedule. Even though she could log into the virtual class at any time, Anna realized that when she puts yoga on her weekly calendar, she makes the time for her class.
Creating a mantra and doing yoga regularly is how Anna is moving from surviving to thriving. How can you honor your current reality? What are your hopes for the days ahead? What will help you move forward? We hope you take a moment to pause, imagine better days, and create a plan that works for you.