I find myself in a similar situation to most. Working from home. With my three girls to keep me company. The oldest of which will be starting e-learning next week. I have a restaurant that is currently closed indefinitely. Our weekly activities are canceled. Birthdays and holidays will look different for the foreseeable future. But I’m attempting to find comfort in that fact that we are all in this together. Parenting styles may differ. But the struggle of working and parenting is real for all.
During these days that feel more like months or years, I’m taking note of my mental health needs, and those of my family. This is not the time to get caught up in mental health stigma but to embrace the fact that we all need support. We need to stay in touch with our family and friends. We need an outlet and resource to vent to and find comfort. Here are the areas where I’m prioritizing connection and the mental health of those I know and love.
Seek social connection while distancing.
Social distancing is currently our way of life, but that doesn’t mean that connection and community don’t matter. Arguably, they are more important than ever. It just looks different and requires a bit of creativity.
On social media, I’ve never seen more screenshots of Zoom meetings in my life and many of them are outside the scope of the traditional work meetings.
Gyms have transitioned to virtual classes to provide members a much-needed sense of community.
Friends are coordinating virtual happy hours from the comfort of their homes.
Children are using technology for virtual play dates and learning how to connect from afar.
When connecting via social media, text or virtual meeting, finding ways to stay in touch with those you care about will provide much needed mental health benefits.
It’s about knowing you aren’t alone when life might feel extra lonely. It’s about having people to turn to when you just need to talk.
Today, more than ever, I’m grateful for my crew of dance moms, my business partner, and my gym community (though I haven’t worked out in nearly four weeks). It’s about having people in your corner.
Prioritize quality time with your family throughout the day.
We have never been in a position to spend more time with our immediate family than now. Like many, I’m currently working from home and my girls are out of school so we are together all day long. This is a challenging situation for even the most adept situation.
As a working parent, it also presents an interesting mental health challenge that many driven mamas battle regularly – the choice between being a good parent or being good at your job.
Parenting styles differ greatly and in any situation, you have to do what works best for you and your family. But for those looking for a bit of help (and I’m always looking for help in this area), it’s important to set aside quality time throughout the day with your children and family. From spending time on school assignments to playing a favorite game or gathering at the dinner table to eat and discuss a favorite part of the day, intentional touchpoints throughout the day allow you to feel more involved and attentive as a parent, while still committing to your job.
If you’re like me and also have a young child at home (my youngest is not yet 2), working from home as a parent is never easy. But a bit of routine and a productive use of nap time, you can make the most of a challenging situation… most days.
Nature isn’t closed or canceled.
I’m not sure any parent needs this reminder, but when in doubt, send your (age-appropriate) children outside. My 6YO mastered her two-wheel bike in a weekend. Sidewalk chalk is the perfect art medium. And warmer temperatures in the future mean our playset will be everyone’s favorite place at our house.
When it feels like we are trapped at home with nowhere to go, it’s important to remember that we can still get outside. We can wave to our neighbors, converse across the sidewalk and get much-needed exercise following a stressful day.
As I look to build more routine into our day moving forward (it’s currently spring break though I know it doesn’t feel like it), getting outside will continue to be a priority. Both “recess” and a walk around the block will be built into our daily routine for the foreseeable future and provide important mental health benefits. And no matter what the future holds, these are healthy habits that will serve us well… as a family and a society.
Parenting is hard. Mental health stigma is real. But now is not the time to dwell. Now is the time to support and connect.