Now, more than ever, you have to take care of yourself.
During the time of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not time to put yourself on the back burner or last on the list.
To continue showing up as an awesome mom, you have to make sure that you are practicing self-care.
I’m not sure when, but self-care got a bad rep.
Whether through marketing or it looking frivolous on social media.
But self-care is far from that. It’s a necessity.
Check out the post below or the player above to learn about why self-care is such valuable and practical ways to implement self-care, even if you’re in quarantine.
Why is self-care so important?
Somehow self-care became selfish. But self-care is not selfish.
Especially during a pandemic, it’s about self-preservation.
Your self-care has to be on point during a pandemic, natural disaster, or significant life event to make it through successfully.
If not, you are setting yourself to break down. Self-care is about taking care of your mind, body spirit.
Even though during the pandemic, self-care is the easiest thing to let go.
However, It is the most critical thing to continue caring for because your mental health is essential.
If you lose it mentally during a time of crisis, it affects everyone around you, including your kids.
Many times the excuse is that our kids need us during this time. And yes, they do.
But they also need their mom to be strong to take on everything and support them. But how can you do that when you have run yourself down?
Yes, your kids are bored. They’re upset because they can’t return to school and see their friends. And they don’t have their routines like normal.
Our kids are looking to us for stability and safety. But if we don’t take care of our security and stability, we won’t be able to help everyone else.
When we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the bottom and basic needs are being threatened.
Those two needs are physiological needs that include sleep, water, and food.
Then the other level of requirements that is threatened right now is safety needs.
This includes employment, financial security, your home, and your health. COVID-19 is threatening all of these things.
This is why you have to make time and practice self-care.
Self-care for moms during a pandemic
Right now, we are not able to do big lavish things because we are not able to get out and do what we used to.
So don’t think that self-care has to be something extravagant. There are things that we need to avoid since we are not able to do some of the self-care that we are used to.
Two things will mess with your head during this time. The first thing that is going on is comparing ourselves to other moms.
The comparison trap
Because we can’t get out much, we are comparing ourselves to other moms on social media.
Because the pandemic is something that we’ve never experienced before and there are no guidelines on what to do and how to act like a mom, we look to each other.
In particular, we compare ourselves to one another.
We inspect and see what Suzy down the street is doing and think that we aren’t doing enough.
Or scroll through Instagram and the land of Tiffany’s page and see that she is working out and eating whole foods when we barely have the mental strength to get in the kitchen and serve your kids anything better than Pop-Tarts, again.
Stop comparing yourself to other moms. It’s only doing you a disservice.
Instead of comparing yourself, connect with a tribe that gets you.
Mom guilt and how to tackle it
Also, check yourself on mom guilt. Comparing yourself to other moms can get the mom guilt stirred up.
You feel guilty because the kids have more screen time. Or maybe you aren’t bathing your kids as often as you used to.
My favorite one is telling your kids that you can’t play right now because you have a meeting or need to finish working.
Instead of doing some considerable self-reflection at the moment and get yourself feeling worst, stop the bleeding.
You can do this by asking yourself a few questions.
At that very moment, ask yourself:
- Are my kids still alive?
- Am I alive?
- Is your child or children receiving adequate care?
Asking yourself these questions will help you get centered so that you don’t go down the path of beating yourself up and feeling like crap.
Yes, the feelings that you are having are real and valid.
These questions are to help you at the moment so that you don’t end up making bad decisions that will ruin your day.
Like eating the entire row of Oreo cookies or drinking Pink Moscato at 10 am to make yourself feel better.
Or blowing off work when you have deadlines coming up.
Later on, when you have time to sit down and reflect. Sit down and go through this thought process:
- What happened?
- What triggered it?
- What was the thought?
Let’s go through an example of something that happened to me recently.
I had to work from home with the Navy and was on a conference call.
As it got closer to the time that I had to talk and give my report, my kids got louder and louder.
As they got louder, I got angrier.
Then finally, I snap on my kids who were having the time of their lives jumping on the couch and playing tag.
Immediately I felt guilty for snapping on them so harshly.
So what happened?
I snapped at the kids because they were making noise while I was on a conference call.
What triggered it?
My kids were making excessive amounts of noise when it was my turn to speak on the conference call.
And I didn’t want to look like that mom that can’t get her kids under control.
What was the thought?
You’re such a bad mom for popping off on your kids like that. You can’t even get your kids to calm down for 5 minutes.
That leads me to feel sad and to go into the pantry for another snack that I didn’t need to comfort myself.
Going through this loop or cognitive behavioral therapy, you can see what’s going on when mom guilt takes over.
And you can see how it adversely affects other areas of your life.
It’s easy to feel guilt seven different times in one day during the pandemic, so it’s essential to go through the loop.
If you don’t take time to break things down and see the triggers, you will be triggered even more during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-care tactics that work
Right now, you may be feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Then there’s the next level when you feel like you are going to lose it and start screaming at any moment.
Know that that feeling is temporary and will typically go away in a few minutes.
To avoid getting to the point of feeling like you are going to lose it, you have to pay attention to your feelings.
Another way is to quickly go through a checklist to make sure you are in the right space. Let’s start with the basics.
First things first, mama, you’ve got to get enough sleep. Sleep is the most significant form of sleep care.
A lack of sleep is a common trigger for those moments we talked about when you feel like you are going to lose it.
I get that you are working from home and have deadlines.
But you are going to burn the candle at both ends when you stay up late time and time again.
Sleep directly affects your physical and mental health and the quality of your life when you are awake.
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Remember that when you are trying to function on 3 hours of sleep every night.
Eating good foods
The next question you want to ask yourself is, are you eating well?
I know that I have struggled with emotional eating. Especially when I am home all day, overeating is something I have to watch.
Make sure to watch yourself when you’re eating because you’re bored or for comfort (like I do).
We’re not necessarily focusing on diets in particular, but the frequency in which you are eating. And the quality of the foods you are eating.
Remember, a bag of grapes is a much better choice than a bag of cookies.
Or are you on the other extreme and not eating at all?
Make sure to check if you’re eating well.
What you’re feeding yourself can play a role in the triggers that cause you to lose it.
As much as I would like to attend an Orange Theory workout class, that’s not happening right now.
And no, I’m not suggesting that we all do CrossFit or train for a marathon.
Instead of putting pressure on yourself to do elaborate workouts, focus on moving your body.
Moving your body could mean taking a walk in the neighborhood, dancing to your favorite song, or speed walking up and down the hallway.
My secret weapon when my kids are whinny and my nerves are getting worked up is to start walking up and down the hallway.
Sometimes the kids will see me and start walking with me.
Moving gets me to calm down and physically change my state of being, so it’s hard to boil over.
One of my favorite bloggers shared with me how she and her husband would speed walk around the house and high five each other when they pass each other.
Moving your body is an easy way to shift your mood.
Just implementing these first three, sleep, eating well, and exercise will help you to decrease the frequency of overwhelm and anxiety.
And the nasty feeling of mom guilt.
Ask for help
Next, you have to start asking for help and accepting help.
There’s no award for the mom that does the most things by herself every day.
You don’t have to do everything. And everything doesn’t have to be done by you.
So ask your partner for help. Even ask your kids.
Call me crazy, but I will ask my 3-year-old to help me.
He’s very capable of taking the dishes from the dining table to the sink.
I don’t let him put them in there because he throws them, and I don’t need to clean up broken dishes with the dirty dishes.
But my point is that I am asking for help.
Yes, I could do everything on my own. But all it’s going to do is make me bitter, tired, and irritable.
So the 3-year-old is going to put his dishes away after he finishes eating so that I don’t have an additional thing to do.
If your kids or your husband offers to help you, take it.
I know you probably will do a much better job than a 5-year-old at sweeping up the floor, but let them help you.
Yes, your kids will miss a spot when dusting, but that’s one less task for you to do so you can take a moment for yourself.
Connect with a tribe
You have to have a circle of people that get you.
As a working mom that enjoys working, many people just don’t get it.
Unfortunately, this causes many working moms to isolate themselves or not to speak their truth.
But hide behind what society or others think is best.
If you’re a working mom that loves to work, consider joining Allison’s Facebook group.
I’m in the group, and it’s a great space to say and sharing things that you usually wouldn’t at work or around family members.
Self-care tactics when you are short on time
If you are in the moment and you need something quick, here are a few things that can help you.
- Have a dance party with your kids or all by yourself.
- Color some adult coloring pages. If you don’t have any, use one of the kid’s coloring books.
- Use the Calm app to guide you through a quick mediation.
- Trace the number eight on your leg. Inhale as you trace the top part of the number 8. Then exhale when you draw the bottom part of the number eight.
Here are a few sensory activities to try to help with your mood:
- Get outside even if you’re just sitting on the grass.
- Take a shower with your favorite body wash.
- Listen to music or a podcast while the kids are watching tv.
What are you going to start to implement first? Let me know in the comments.
Allison empowers moms who love to work AND love their kids (most of the time) through sanity-saving strategies, self-care programs like morning routines, and permission to be them.
When she is not working on I Swear I Love My Kids, she can be found playing vet hospital with her 3-year-old daughter Julia, fighting off ninja kicks from her 8-year-old son Sebastian, or watching all-things Netflix with her husband of 10 years, Kevin.
She is an 11-year High School counselor who lives in the Chicago burbs. Allison is obsessed with pizza and Peloton.
Links mentioned in this episode
- Allison’s blog – I Swear I Love My Kids
- Facebook Group – I Swear I Love My Kids
- Mental Health Checklist
- Morning Routine Course – Your Power Hour The Best Morning Routine For Working Moms
- Just Dance by Lady Gaga
- Save Yourself Guide
- I Need to Keep My Kids Busy – 40 Unique Activities
- Allison on Instagram
07:06 – Why we need self-care
12:51 – 2 things that we are doing that are messing with our heads
16:17 – Ways to tackle mom guilt
20:55 – When you are about to lose your crap
24:43 – Move your body
28:45 – Ask for help
33:56 – Connect with a tribe
36:38 – Quick Tactics for self-care you can do right now
41:15 – Sensory activities to help your mood
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Check out the other episodes in the COVID-19 series.
- Managing Stress During Uncertain Times
- Practical Tips for Parenting When You Are Stressed and Overwhelmed
- How to Navigate the Conversation About Coronavirus with Your Kids
- Self-Care to Help Save Your Sanity During a Pandemic
- Tips for Managing Your Money During Hard Times
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