Being a Working Mom During a Pandemic Part I

Well that’s a title you don’t see every day. Being a working mom can be tough during any given week. Now that we’re in the middle of a global crisis, being a working mom feels like 5 more jobs at the same time. We shifted from going to work, school and community gatherings to working and schooling from home with complete social distance. That’s a lot to take in.

Like many working parents, I worked remote a handful of days out of the year. It wasn’t the norm for me, but when it was needed, I made the best of it and my employer was accommodating. It was a very abrupt shift to remote work and online school when it happened two weeks ago. I was already on PTO for a couple of days before the change and then I got the call that my office was for the most part moving to remote. As of this writing, I haven’t had a day back in my office for three weeks.

Our school district announced that the kids would not go back until March 30 and then that moved to April 10. Then it happened. The emails that poured into my inbox from the district, the teachers and the brands. All trying to inform and all trying to be helpful. What felt like 1,000 emails from outside of work compounded the already stressful situation with trying to do my job remotely with kids at home.

And then the next shift to come was the need to start homeschooling on top of working remote. Sound familiar? For stay home and homeschooling moms, this sounded awesome to me and I’m super happy they can focus on that primarily without the added pressure of bringing home a paycheck. I kept seeing all of the homeschool schedules, tools and suggestions in my news feeds and in my email. I felt like more information and more to do was coming from everywhere. I also couldn’t escape from the pandemic statistics, deaths, grocery hoarders, videos and articles.

Someone make it stop! It was too much and too many things from too many places coming down on me. I broke down. I cried and that was on a Tuesday.

That first week of being home was a bit of a nightmare. It was hard. It was a transition. It was the new normal. That Friday night I fell asleep by 7:30 pm. I was scared. I was tired. I was angry. My resilience to stress was past the brink. I felt helpless.

So, the next day I made soup. Yep, soup. Since my diet changes back in October, I realized that cooking soup and trying new recipes calms me. I made a batch of my Chicken Vegetable Soup and froze most of it. And then I made a Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup and froze most of it. It made me start to feel better to do something that calmed my thoughts and I was adding soup to the freezer in case we need it for later. That’s what I could control.

When things feel out of control at a high level, you can always find something within your control. Being a remote homeschooling mom is not easy and this is only the beginning. But we have ways that we can find a little peace in all of this overwhelming uncertainty. Some calm and peace of mind can help us remember that we’re doing a great job in this new normal because we are.

Here’s how I’m finding calm during this pandemic.

  • Gratitude – one thought a day can change your whole perspective. Jot it down and at the end of the week, remind yourself of how many things in your life make you feel grateful.
  • Find Your Passion – start exploring. Yes, we’re stuck at home but you can start looking into the things outside of work that interest you. It all starts with just being curious.
  • Family Time – that may seem odd when we’re around each other so  much now. During the weekend, we’re doing things differently than we did when we were commuting. Movie time and bike riding as a family have been my favorite things to do.
  • Exercise – working out, sweating it out, getting the stress out. Keep up with the exercise for your sanity. It’s a healthy thing for your mind, body and spirit.
  • Cooking – I am on a soup cooking roll. I’ve been making and freezing soup almost every weekend. It’s very calming for me and the soup is pretty tasty.
  • Baking – it’s been fun making sweet treats for the kids and it’s fun to do together.

Some other ideas that may help:

  • Yoga
  • Gardening
  • Zoom cocktail hour with friends and/or family
  • Look through old photos
  • Clean out the closet
  • Dance
  • Go for a walk
  • Write
  • Draw
  • Read
  • Listen to classical music or any type of music that feels calming to you
  • Take a bath
  • Learn something new with online learning
  • Rearrange furniture
  • Fix your bed
  • Get ready – do your hair and makeup
  • Use your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if it’s available to you. Don’t go it alone if you need to talk with someone.

Things to do with the kids:

  • Make slime
  • Play with PlayDoh
  • Color
  • Yoga – Cosmic Kids Yoga is a good one.
  • Tag
  • Dance in your living room
  • Family movie time
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Walk – even a 5 minute walk can lighten things up and change attitudes.
  • Backyard time
  • Write a note and mail it to grandma, grandpa, a friend. They’ll love to get the mail!

A lot of items I’ll just order online so I can avoid going to the store. The wait time may be a little longer due to the current circumstances, but it’s worth it to stay home and be safe.

We’re going to be in this state of uncertainty for a while. It’s scary that we don’t know when it will be over. What we do to minimize the things we know stress us out and increase the activities that make us feel calm can help us make it through. Find those things that create the calm in your world. Embrace them. Practice them.

As for my new homeschooling adventure, we figured out all of the links, logins, Google classrooms and emails. It’s still a lot to manage, especially with our daughter who has special needs. We’ll make it work in between the conference calls, meetings and remote work to be done. We received word that kids will not be in school the rest of the school year. We’re looking at a couple of months now. That’s a lot longer than anyone anticipated. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary because it is.

This crisis will eventually end. It’s a good time to think about what is important to you today while you’re in this state of mind. It may just change how you ease into your office and school life once we’re social again.

Remember you’re doing a great job, at all the jobs you have right now. There’s no playbook for being a working mom during a pandemic. Do what works best for you and your family. We did that under normal circumstances, didn’t we? And it never steered us wrong.

Stay safe, sane and healthy. ♥

 

Did you like this blog? Check out Being a Working Mom During a Pandemic Part II. You’ll find the latest update and more tips to help you thrive even in the uncertainty of the new normal.

5 thoughts on “Being a Working Mom During a Pandemic Part I

  1. Angie says:

    I really enjoyed reading this 🙂 You have a great list of ways to find calm and things to do! I’m also a working mom (from Saskatchewan), gone 11-12 hours 5 days a week, struggling to keep my 3 kids learning and keep myself sane. The struggle is REAL! Keep doing what you’re doing, don’t give up. You’re doing an amazing job!
    -Ang

    Like

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you, Ang! You’re right about the struggle. And you definitely have a lot going as well. I’m glad you found the lists helpful. Now that we’re a few weeks in, we’re getting a little more settled with a new routine and things are working better. One day at a time. Thank you for the kind words. Being supported by other moms helps us keep charging ahead, doesn’t it? Supporting one another is so needed during a time like this. You’re pretty amazing too! 🙂 We got this!

      Liked by 1 person

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