This past year has sucked for moms. For those of us used to working outside the house, we’re now trapped at home with our children. For those used to working at home, we’ve lost the peace and quiet we once had. As the days blend into the nights, our minds shift from virtual schooling to our day jobs to what to make for dinner. We’re overwhelmed. We’re stressed. And we realize we’re not getting any younger.
Are you with me? Do you feel like this too? Moms during the pandemic have had it tough. Dads as well but this one’s about us.
When the pandemic initially started, we kept groceries in the garage and sanitized everything. We were super diligent about not allowing the coronavirus into our home. As time progressed, we became slightly more lax but the stress has evolved.
Instead of focusing solely on the virus, we are focused on the well being of our families. We are worried about our children. We’re worried about their social interaction. We’re worried about their schooling. We’re printing out schedules and helping them get organized. And we are doing all of this on top of everything else we do. We’re doing this on top of our day jobs. We’re doing this on top of cleaning the house and cooking three meals a day.
We are slammed.
And we’ve been slammed since the pandemic started.
With the current stresses we have, it’s essential we take the time to focus on ourselves. And I’m not just talking about wearing a mask to get a massage. I’m talking about focusing on our well being, our awareness, and our growth. These things are essential for us to feel good.
Sure we all feel great after our hair is done and our nails painted. But that’s all temporary. Eventually you’ll go back to feeling overwhelmed. You will go back to feeling like a fraction of the person you once were.
We’re moms. We give everything to our children. We put ourselves on the backburner. It’s normal. It’s par for the course. We signed up for this.
While we signed up to be mothers, we didn’t sign up to forget about ourselves.
We didn’t sign up to focus so much on our children that we don’t know who we are anymore. We owe it to ourselves to continue to discover who we are.
The first couple months of the pandemic were rough. I drank more wine during that time than I had since my 6 year old was born. Eventually, I made some changes. I realized there was no end in sight and if I kept eating and drinking in excess, I’d continue my misery.
So I did what any mom who’s lost does. I cleaned. I threw things out. I became a minimalist. I watched documentaries. I donated 12 bags of clothes. I threw out as much as possible. I organized the remaining things. The kids laughed. They said mom’s a minimalist now, she’s going to throw out all our toys.
Somehow minimalism gave me freedom. I felt less stressed. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I woke up to a clutter-free home and enjoyed it.
Tidiness was not the only benefit. I craved that freeing feeling associated with feeling less overwhelmed.
I didn’t care about what I owned. I cared about what I experienced.
Covid taught me that. I owe my new found awareness to the pandemic.
This awareness lead me down a different path. Yes, we’re all still stuck at home. But I’m using my time differently these days. I’m listening to audio books. I’m playing guitar. I’m exercising every day. I’m sleeping the same amount yet doing more during my waking hours. And I have to tell you, it feels great.
The awareness I developed as a new minimalist expanded to other areas of my life. I downloaded Atomic Habits on Audible and listened while washing dishes, doing laundry and cooking dinner. I listened while in the bathroom. This book has changed my thoughts on life, and motherhood, by teaching me that our habits reflect who we want to be.
The quality of our habits affect the quality of our lives. — James Clear, Atomic Habits
We can be anything we want. We don’t have to just be moms. All of us have a passion and a purpose and we owe it to ourselves to find it. We owe it to our children. The more they see us work towards a goal, the more likely they are to do it themselves.
Three years ago, I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I needed something outside of everyday life. We ended up going as a family so it was an activity we could do together. Being the oldest woman, and only mother, in the adult class made me realize how difficult it was for moms to focus on themselves. I saw the other moms at the kids classes watching their children. I wondered how many thought they’d never be able to do what their children do. They can. We can.
We can change our identities by changing our habits.
Without evening knowing it, I created a new habit to tidy up before bed when I realized how much I appreciated a clean home in the morning. I was able to create a new habit by stacking that habit on top of another one. Each night, I sit on the couch and drink a glass of wine while watching Netflix. After that, I put the kids to bed. Between these two habits, I added another one to tidy up the living room so that I didn’t see clutter first thing in the morning. Seeing how I could add habits to one area of my life, made me realize I could do it in others.
I now practice guitar every day. When I stop working for the day, I take 10 minutes to practice. I am a beginner guitar player. I started a couple months ago and have been teaching myself from You Tube videos. I never thought I could add guitar player to my identity. I assumed it was too late in life to start. I assumed I wouldn’t have time to do it.
There is time. You have to make it. You need time to focus on improving yourself.
There’s a whole world for us beyond motherhood, we just have to find it. We deserve to have things we’re passionate about that don’t revolve around our children. We’ve already proven our worth to our kids, let’s prove it to ourselves.