Did you think the craziness would be over by now? I certainly did. In fact, when everything first closed and I was sent to work from home in March, I was convinced we’d be back to normal by May! Ha. What an optimistic fool I was.
I remain optimistic today, however, and I honestly think that forcing myself to put a positive spin on everything has helped me navigate the pandemic without losing my mind.
I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. We were all home for the initial 12 weeks of the lockdown and now I’m dealing with my son beginning Kindergarten in some format. I have struggled, don’t get me wrong.
There have been many tears and a considerable amount of anxiety, but I have developed a few coping mechanisms that might be helpful:
I limit where I get my information. Now that the pandemic response is operating on a more local level, I get my updates from our public health district and my kid’s local school district. That’s it. I review the numbers and the response plans and avoid any interpretation of the data by the media or my friends and family. I certainly avoid any and all comments on social media.
I remind myself constantly that everyone is just doing their best. I may not agree with the response plan put out by the health district, the decisions made by my school, or my friend’s public declaration about what her kids are doing in the fall, but this is irrelevant. Everyone is out there trying to do the best that they can given the information that they have, just like I am, and there’s no need to get involved in unnecessary discord.
I keep it simple with my kids. My kids have been in full time daycare since they were just a couple of months old, so 12+ weeks at home with them nonstop in the spring while also trying to work from home was a huge change for me. I didn’t come up with any elaborate schedules or homeschooling plans, but I did establish some simple goals. Basically, each day we had to: do something creative, do some reading, go outside, and do some cleaning. Each of these could range from a super simple 5 minute activity to something more elaborate and time consuming, but every box had to be checked. This pushed me to add variety to our daily routine (and kept the house from becoming too disgusting), but also allowed for afternoons of movie watching without guilt.
I strive to find the positive. My biggest stressor right now is that my 5 year old might not be going to school in person five days a week. However, I try to look at it from a different angle. Rather than “I’m so upset my kid won’t be getting a normal school experience,” I say to myself, “I’m so excited that I will have more time to do fun stuff with my kid during the week,” and “isn’t it great that I can use this extra time to explore the subjects he is passionate about?” Just this simple switch in my head has made a huge difference to how I feel about the beginning of the school year. And yes, it takes some effort.
And finally, I count my blessings. An obvious one, maybe, but definitely something I have to remind myself to do on the darker days. Even when everything feels like it is falling apart and I have no control, I force myself to find something good in the day, however small.
None of these are groundbreaking, but they have really helped my attitude in the face of what sometimes feels like constant disappointment. Just take a moment, breathe, and remind yourself that it is not possible to have control over everything. Sometimes you have to just acknowledge that yes, it sucks, but it is what it is and we have to try to make the best of it.