If you’re like me, you’ve experienced moments of pure joy, extreme sadness, and basically every other emotion in between, sometimes all within the same day throughout this pandemic parenting period. (My sister refers to this as the “coronacoaster”.)
Back in the spring of 2020, I was full of hope and went through the “color-coded schedule” phase until summer came when I felt like I had pretty much given up on life. June, July, and August were not my friend. I felt extremely overwhelmed, overworked, and over-stressed. It was too hot to do anything and I had zero motivation. I was completely burned-out. Now that fall is here I am starting to get into a groove with our routine and I’m feeling much better. I came through the summer with a few tricks up my sleeve to help me (and my family) survive those seasons of having a burned-out mom at the helm.
Teach Your Kids Independence
Yes, this takes months and even years of work but it is so worth it in the end! Before Baby #3 was born, I taught my six-year-old how to do her own laundry. I put stickers on the washer and dryer knobs so she would know where to turn them, instructed her on how to pour fabric softener, and that Tide Pods were NOT for eating. Now I can say, “Sis, go do your laundry,” and she can successfully start a load of clothes, switch them to the dryer, and sort them without any assistance! It has been a lifesaver!
Invest in Audiobooks
This summer I had very low energy; by the time bedtime came around Mommy was fifty shades of DONE. Inevitably, the kiddos would ask for a story and I would want to cry. I was wiped. I had a brilliant idea: get audiobooks from the library! I checked out several audiobooks, uploaded them to my laptop, and then transferred them to my phone. Now we could snuggle and listen to Eric Idle read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory without Mommy having a breakdown. And guess what? The kids LOVE it! They like listening to someone new read to them and they soak in those extra cuddles.
Institute “Pantry Plate” Night
I don’t like cooking. I cook almost every single night but it is not something I particularly enjoy. Enter: “pantry plates”. “Pantry Plate Night” is when everyone chooses their own dinner. The only caveat is: it has to be an item that does NOT have to be cooked/prepped. For example, my son’s favorite meal on pantry plate night is a fruit bar, yogurt, goldfish crackers, and applesauce. My children thought this was so great because they were in charge of their meals! Added bonus: I felt less overwhelmed and also learned to let go. Plus, it was super helpful during the summer months when it was too hot to light the oven for dinner.
Use Screen Time Wisely
I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to screen time. My kids only get their tablets in the late afternoon and I set a timer for how long they’re able to have them. For a while, I would use that time to get extra chores done. After all, it was the only time in which the kids were occupied and I could work without interruption. I soon realized, however, I needed to use that time to refresh and reset. Now when screen time starts, my kids know that they have to keep the volume down and stay in their rooms because Momma is resting. Some days I actually nap. Other days I’ll lay in bed and re-watch The Office for the seventy-third time. And, on other days, I’ll use that time to call a friend or write a blog post–ha!
These tricks helped me to get through one of the hardest parts of 2020 (for me). I loathe the overused phrase: “in these unprecedented times” but we are truly living through something we never thought would happen. We’re all stressed. We’re all worried about the future. We’re all struggling. Even if you’ve been handling things well for a while, there will come a time when you need a respite. You need to just “be”. There’s no shame in that, momma. This is just a season and you will get through it!