It’s Monday morning. Monday’s are difficult for me right now. After a weekend of not bearing the burden of guiding my pirate children through the choppy seas of quarantine home school (or, “distance learning” as the school district politely refers to it), all of the feels hit me on Mondays. Here are 10 tips for sensitive moms during quarantine.
Sadness, grief, loss, loneliness. Having just moved here in late 2019, my children, ages 10 and now 13, had just gotten into their own grooves with their new schools here in the heart of Texas. For 10 short weeks, they uploaded a whole new set of scenery, classmates, teachers, and hallways. The fact that it all came to a sudden, screeching halt still haunts me on Monday mornings. I miss riding with each of them to their schools on bikes. I miss tucking sweet love notes into my 4th grader’s lunch box. I’m a sensitive mom in the midst of quarantine.
I miss my now nonexistent alone time to tap into my creativity and wisdom, and to work on opening my business. I miss all of what was “normal” about our new, pre-pandemic lives here in Texas.
As a highly sensitive mom (it’s a thing, y’all), these feelings hit me deeply. I am nostalgic by nature. My family moved here to have a better chance at, well… everything. And in 10 short weeks, everything changed. I am challenged to adapt my visions and dreams to this new, unknown reality. For me, reading the news articles about how much social distancing we are going to have to continue with for the foreseeable future sparks a deeper fear in me than fear of the virus itself. First of all, I came here to participate in and to create community. This is much harder to envision when we can’t be together. Secondly…. WOW, how much is our world changing? None of us really know.
Fear and grief can hold me down. It can hold many of us down. While I believe that such difficult emotions do serve a purpose, I try not to spiral down into these. As a sensitive being, the weight of the world feels, well… heavy. I thought I would share some tips for moms who might also be sensitive by nature. Studies show that 1 in 5 people show some degree of high sensitivity.
So even if you aren’t sensitive, you may have a child who is. Maybe these tips can help with sensitive children, too.
- Shelter yourself from too much news. This is common sense for everyone right now. But really- turn off the TV. Don’t swipe left to your Apple New headlines every other hour. At this point, as communities press to open back up, most of the news is speculation anyway. I’ve noticed there’s an inverse relationship to how much news I consume and how happy I feel. While it’s important to stay informed, but don’t drown in the hype.
- Name your feelings. Marc Brackett, Ph.D., chair of the Center for Emotional Intelligence at Yale University, says that studies indicate that most people in the workplace can’t identify more than 3 feelings: happy, sad, and mad. There are MANY more feelings to be named and experienced. By naming our feelings, we are inadvertently validating our own experience. In a time of massive uncertainty, we NEED to feel validated, even if it’s just by our own selves.
- Allow and accept said feelings. Feeling shame? It’s okay. Allow it to be. Don’t stuff it down, don’t judge it. Be with it. Maybe it has a message for you. I recently had some shame triggered as I joined an elite group of colleagues for a program recently. I felt like an outsider. Like they were all more successful than I. It felt horrible. Then I recognized that I had had my shame triggered, because I was new to the group. One I was able to recognize my shame, it transformed, and I received a handful of powerful messages about my shadow side that I had not wanted to address or integrate (for years). Check out this Brene Brown podcast. Naming and accepting our feelings is half the battle. They will pass! And it’s 100% human to have ALL the feels.
- Prioritize sleep. Seriously. Experts recommend turning off all screens an hour before bed. For sensitive people, this might be more like 2-3 hours before bed. Let your overstimulated brain wind down. Even though we’re not rushing around like we used to, we ARE immersed in family life (with pirates!) 24/7. It’s a lot for anyone; it’s especially overwhelming for a sensitive mom to have to be needed constantly and to constantly interact with my kids.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people. Your BFF is doing just fine? She’s okay with all of these crazy changes for unknown periods of time? Your colleagues are thriving, while you’re wondering where to start with navigating all of this? (Mentioning that latter one for a friend… ). Your neighbors are all happy? It’s okay! Stay in your lane. You are running your own race, not theirs. You are striving for the best version of your own self. Not theirs.
- Schedule time for what you love. Like needlepointing alone in front of your favorite window? Running through the neighborhood trails? Reading scripture by the fireplace? Make it happen. Schedule uninterrupted time. Even if you can only kick the husband and kids out for 20 minutes. Make the most of it.
- Remember not to be too hard on yourself. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so this one is a constant reminder for me. Things are not going to go perfectly. They never do, and especially not right now. Leave some room for error. For not knowing. For fear. Trekking through the unknown is much easier when we make room to expect the unexpected.
- Take things one day at a time. Stay in the moment. Try not to get too far ahead of yourself with future projecting your worst fears, the worse case scenario, or a timeline for this pandemic ending. What needs to be done today?
- On that note, do the next right thing. Ask yourself, “what needs to be done right now?” Is that work report your biggest priority, or can it wait until you’re feeling more energized later? Maybe mopping your bathroom floors will bring you the most joy in the moment. Take a break from everything, go outside with your kids, and run through the streets. Trust that you know what’s best for you and your family, moment to moment.
- And finally, remember to B-R-E-A-T-H-E. When you wake up in the morning, take a few cleansing breaths. When you have to help your kids navigate “distance learning”, and they are both talking to you at once, breathe. Before you go to bed: breathe. When all else fails: remember that we are being breathed. By something larger than us. Rest in the moment, reflect or deflect to your higher power, and trust in that.
We are all going to get through this!
Photo Credit :: Lauren Samuels Photography