Being a Working Mom During a Pandemic Part III

We’re about to hit a milestone I never imagined we’d cross. It’s been almost one year since we went to remote work and online schooling. How can that be? It was a mid-March shift in 2020 that many thought would be temporary. I figured we’d be working remotely for a few weeks and then return to work. Nope. No chance.

As the pandemic crisis grew, it became clear that our new normal was simply staying home. The first part of this series, Being a Working Mom During a Pandemic Part I, was my attempt at making sense of what was happening around me. At the time of that writing, we were shifting to remote and people were panicking. We had grocery hoarders picking the shelves clean and scenes of people fighting over toilet paper. My mom lives in another state and a friend of mine helped out by delivering toilet paper to her. I couldn’t find any for her online. How crazy!

When the dust settled, our family had shifted into a new schedule and new way of living. We were home for the long haul. School sessions were completed online and with Zoom calls. I was exhausted at the end of the day. It was a different kind of tired though. My mind was tired. It took a lot of brain power to teach, work and manage the anxiety that resulted from what was happening in the world around us.

It was roughly 30 days after we went remote when I wrote, Being a Working Mom During a Pandemic Part II, and I can see how we were in the midst of getting used to the new normal. We were bike riding at that time and enjoyed more family time together. The days were long but the weeks flew by.

A wonderful thing started to happen. I let sh*t go. For the first time, almost ever, I started to let things go that I couldn’t control. Don’t get me wrong. We stocked up with a little panic shopping. I made soup like crazy to stock the freezer. I was controlling the school schedule. I was concerned I could lose my job. Something started to change as the months went on and I started to not worry so much. It took me a couple months to realize that no matter what happened, having my health and my family were most important.

I’m not totally sure how it happened, but looking back at old blog posts helped me realize the moments that changed my way of thinking about what was happening around me. Below are a few ways I was able to let things go and create more calm in my world.

Make the Choice
We all have choices to make and can decide if we want to dwell on what we can’t control. When I find myself in a mind hiccup of dwelling on something I can’t control, I work on refocusing my attention on what I can do in that situation and evaluate the negative thoughts I’m having because of it. I make the choice to let it go when I can or talk it out in order to get back a sense of peace about the situation.

Focus on What Brings You Joy
I bet there are so many things you do that bring you joy. From working out to hanging out with the kids, find those things that bring you joy and happiness. Focus on those. Letting go starts with focus and enjoying activities that make you happy.

Stop the Blame Game
It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it? Not really. It’s easier to hold onto something that doesn’t serve us when we’re spending time blaming someone else for it. We all have a role we play in the drama. Check yourself and what role you play in a situation that is making you feel stressed. How can you change the situation? Or, can you walk away from it? Blaming others won’t fix it.

Stay in the Present
Focus on today. I once had a therapist share with me that focusing on today reduces stress. Looking back creates depression and looking too far forward creates anxiety. For me, she was right. I still focus on goals I want to achieve in the future of course. I just refocus my mind from worrying about things that might happen then. Instead, I try to enjoy the moments that are right in front of me. A bike ride with the kids, horseback riding on the weekend, and dinner with my family on a weeknight. Allowing yourself to stay in the moment is a gift and the others around you as you’ll enjoy the time together and create a lifetime of memories.

Write it Out
Journal your thoughts. We have so many things we can journal about. You can create a daily gratitude journal or a negative thoughts journal when you’re trying to let things go. Both are effective ways to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Journaling can bring peace and insight into why you are feeling the way you do. Journaling is also a great tool to use when you look back to see how far you’ve come.

Sweat it Out
Work out and release those endorphins. Working out, walking or bike riding are just a few ways to release the stress and get back to your center. When things feel beyond your control, taking a break to work out or take a simple walk is a great way to help let go of the stress at that moment and refocus.

“One of the happiest moments in life
is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.”
– Unknown

We finally have some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. With the new vaccines, we’re seeing more people get vaccinated and some of the numbers are coming down. I’m really excited to see the end is near. What does that mean for the return to work and school? I’m not sure. What I do know is we’re resilient, we’re resourceful and we’re stronger than we were a year ago. We adapted to undeniably difficult circumstances and became much wiser because of them. We’ll never be able to predict the future, but when we focus our thoughts, we can react to them in ways that help us continue to thrive.

Stay safe, sane, and healthy. ♥

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