Moms around the country are hovering around Day 126 (!) of social distancing/quarantine/COVID-era reality. (We won’t call it the “new normal” because literally nothing is normal about this…) Our hearts break for the many families that have lost loved ones, and we would give anything to be enjoying a summer of family travel, sleepovers for our kids with friends, and of course, prepping for a regular “back to school” season in September. But the last four months have given us a new perspective as moms—and we are grateful for it. Here are few lessons we’ve learned:
It Takes A Village
We are endlessly grateful for those who helped care for and teach our kids before COVID-19, from preschools teachers to babysitters. Then there are those who help us in other ways that made motherhood work relatively smoothly (whether it be house cleaners or sports couches or, of course, essential workers everywhere from the grocery store to the pediatrician’s office). There’s nothing like spending an extra 20 to 40+ extra hours/week with toddlers for a few days before you want to call daycare/preschool and personally apologize to their teachers—and send chocolate/wine/spa certificates.
Mom Friends Are Crucial
Some of us already turned to mom friends for questions about potty training, sleep schedules and more. But for others, quarantine forced us to reach out in a way we hadn’t before, to make sure we were all okay—particularly moms who took on schedules, roles and responsibilities that looked nothing like our previous ones. Also, the right mom friends—aka the ones who you don’t need to sugar coat your reality for—are essential. In short: we’re in this together (see more on this below!).
Moms Really Are Superheroes
Yes, dads are fabulous. And many of them truly stepped up during quarantine. But we are hearing stories and seeing our moms across the country take on the role of full time caretaker, homeschool teacher, sports coach, house cleaner, chef (3 meals a day/7 days a week), child psychologist, and much, much more—and able to see the bright side of more time with kids even as that means less time for ourselves. That’s not to say that it’s fair. Working moms are bearing the economic impact, and all moms the emotional, at a greater rate than their male counterparts.
Self-Care Isn’t a Frivolous Luxury
Maybe the most important thing we realized is that the oxygen mask theory—that you have to put your own oxygen masks on first before you can help others with theirs—is actually true. During the last few months, there’s been plenty of times we felt like we were literally bringing down a plane safely that had lost an engine/was on fire/the pilot was drunk….you got the point. But every time we didn’t (or couldn’t) take a few minutes (even 30 minutes) a day to go for a solo walk, get a workout in, watch a funny show or talk to a friend, we were less effective. And by less effective, we mean more screaming, less engagement and other not so fun stuff that left us in a mom guilt spiral post-bedtime.
Treating Quarantine Like the Newborn Phase Can Be Helpful
Immediately when we starting isolating (often coupled with a loss of childcare), we felt: completely exhausted physically and mentally, unsure of what we were supposed to do for our kids, anxious that we were doing the wrong thing and maybe even a little (a lot?) blue. Sound familiar? Because diving into quarantine is basically like having a newborn—there’s lots of advice but no real rulebook, and you’ve never done it before. But eventually you find a groove, and although you’re still tired, you learn how to cope and how to (sometimes) thrive. And you realize that all you have to do is what works for you and your kids.
We’re All In This Together
On that note, some of us are grappling with advice from everyone from school administrators to government officials to pediatricians and grandparents, whether we should send kids back to school. We’re also all handling quarantine and (if our states situation’s allow) re-entry. And we hope you’ll be able to find what works for you and your family, and also let others do the same. Everyone’s motherhood journey, marriage, children, financial situation and more are different—and those differences are not always clear on the surface. Here’s to being confident in ourselves as mothers, supporting our fellow moms do the same, and keeping our families happy and healthy!
This story originally appeared on The Local Moms Network.