This morning I’ve woken up earlier that I usually do. I’d like to say that Molly is still cosily tucked under the blanket on her bed where I left her last night after we read her favourite story, but she’s not. She’s actually asleep the wrong way around on her bed with one leg sticking out of the bed like a hockey stick. I smile to myself and sneak out of her room relishing this moment.
A few minutes later, I sit outside with my steaming cup of coffee and revel in this rare moment where I actually get to drink it hot AND listen to the birds slowly rustle in the trees around me as they muse about when they need to start chirping their morning song.
It’s been a tough week! Charlie’s had to go back to work full time and I’ve had to juggle online school, work and home. None of these have let up this week, almost as if they all knew that this week would be the week to attack. The week which could almost break Polly!
I don’t know what it is but everything that was simple pre-pandemic has become so much more difficult now. Relationships at work which were light and carefree are now bordering on high levels of stress and tension, one word out of place can cause avalanches and emotions are running high. Even some personal relationships are distant as we struggle to find any free time or headspace to ‘water our bonds’.
I felt rather dejected so I decided to have a real think about this in my moment of solitude and amidst the inspiration of nature.
This is what I came up with, so here are my three tips for any anxious mamas out there like me.
1. This isn’t a post pandemic world yet. Acknowledge it and LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
It’s been almost two years now and while 2020 was tough, it still had the hope of a ‘better 2021’. Unfortunately 2021 has been exhausting and that’s all I can say because that one glimmer of hope has become so elusive and now we really don’t seem to have an idea of what the future holds.
I guess we do know that it won’t be easy and there’s no easy fix ahead.
The worries we have about sending our kids to school, the utter inability to plan anything beyond a stone’s throw and the lack of control which we had prided ourselves in all this time have heightened stress and anxiety to a whole other level.
This is why I think it’s important to lower expectations and know that this isn’t normal and we aren’t out of the woods yet. This isn’t a 100m dash, it’s a marathon and conserving energy is of the utmost importance.
I think it’s important to remember that to win the marathon sometimes we need to know when to walk.
Which brought me to my second tip or thought…
I can’t do it all. I’m not supermum. I could come close in a pre-pandemic world just like all the other mums out there. Then again that was familiar and predictable at most times.
Now, I have to grapple with a schedule that I’ve not had to deal with before. I can’t book my work meetings at times that clash with online school or a time no one can help out with getting meals on the table. My best work happens at night when Charlie puts Molly to bed with a story and dinner’s dirty dishes are put away. But I am not wired to work this way and it’s sent my entire internal system into a mess. I didn’t realise it before but my 'pandemic resultant’ nocturnal habits had stressed my entire system.
I wish I was one of those people who could burn the midnight oil but still be bouncing the next day. I’m not and day by day I was drained of energy until I realised the cracks were getting longer and wider.
So, I’m deprioritising and reprioritising. Trying to acknowledge the reality of where we are now as a family. We need to eat healthy and everyone needs to feel safe and content. If a work deadline gets missed or a meeting needs to be postponed, well that will need to happen. If I need to ask a colleague for help or a family member or a friend to run an errand, then I will ask. I won’t try to do it all or be it all anymore. If this pandemic has taught us anything, family comes first.
3. Feed your mind POSITIVITY
I have been feeding my mind a lot of negativity. Of course, I didn’t realise it until I stepped out of my own head and had a really good look around. A lot of anxiety, anger, stress, frustration were lurking in almost every fold of my mind. I had to spend some time doing a real spring cleaning with some good solid journaling where I put it all down on paper. The problems, anxieties and stresses didn’t seem as colossal as when they were in my mind. I was able to make a list of things I could do and couldn’t do. I found words to communicate these in a more constructive way to Charlie without having a go at him for forgetting to put the laundry in one day and accusing him of not caring about me and falling into a heap of sobs. Yes, it happened. Like I said, it’s been a bad week. A very bad week.
So, as I see the sky getting lighter and the birds start to chirp, I know my day has begun but today I will be in the moment, the now and know that we will be ok. We just need to focus on what’s important in life.