Parenting in a pandemic has been flat-out exhausting. I honestly feel like I’m running a marathon that someone else signed me up for. To run a marathon well, I would have needed time to mentally and physically prepare. Now that I’ve been thrown into the race, getting support to push through is imperative.
I can hear shouts from people in my community, telling me to keep going. I stop at the refueling stations along the route for rest and slow sips of hydration. I’m determined to keep going. I am determined to not only survive but to thrive and finish this race well.
Are you with me?
As a homeschooling mom of five years and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, you would think I’d have all the skills necessary to endure the obstacles we are facing today. But let me tell you, homeschooling in a pandemic is a place even the most seasoned homeschooling mom has never been before. Finding someone to commiserate with has been difficult, to say the least. So, whether you took off running trying to educate yourself, or you are overwhelmed by all of the decisions, information, and NOISE, there is a whole ingestion of toughness going on right now for every mom.
Like it or not, we are running this marathon. Inhaling hope and exhaling hardship. With no time to scout out a coach or to build up our weekly mileage months beforehand, we have to make a declaration today to thrive! I am here to share some tools that I have found to be helpful. My hope is that they will encourage you in pulling off this feat.
We are in this for the long haul. How long? I don’t think anyone has the slightest clue, but I do know that we have to continue at a pace that we can sustain the whole way. It can be tempting to look at the way Susie is running her race, but this can also come with a great deal of suffering. You will run a more enjoyable race when you stay in your lane, do what works for you and your family, and move at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Be Committed to Running Your Best Race
This is all about your personal record (PR), and no one else’s. Set your intentions and make a commitment to show up, daily. Sure, you might experience fatigue, stress, and frustration, so don’t be ashamed to head to those refueling stations, to get what you need. For us moms, this might look like consistent self-care days, naps, asking for help, or scheduled breaks. Whatever it is, do what is necessary for your own health, and then get back in the race. Be intentional with covering some ground each day.
Build a Training Schedule
I know, not everyone enjoys creating or maintaining a schedule, so if hearing the word schedule makes you cringe, you can call it a routine or a plan. Whatever you call it, this is something you create to give you and your family a track to run on. Flexibility is important to the success of sticking with the schedule. No matter how hard you try to stick to your schedule, life will figure out a way to just “happen.” Prioritize your family’s goals, decide what needs to get done each day, and when it needs to be completed by. For example, if you are working, and your children have school work to complete, determine what can be done independently, and what needs your assistance. What is due soon versus what is due later. Weekly planning meetings are perfect for this. Remember, if you don’t create a plan for your day, your day will create a plan for you.
Find an Accountability Partner
In a world of social distancing, you may find yourself experiencing major hunger pangs. And not necessarily for food, but hungry for connection. Having a friend or family member who can run this marathon with you is essential for maintaining sanity and motivation when the days get difficult. Sometimes you will feel completely lonely, like you are running this marathon all by yourself, and everyone else must have missed the registration memo. In these moments, it’s extremely helpful to have your mom tribe (even if it’s a tribe of one other mom), to empathize with your complaints and frustrations, and gently remind you to keep going.
Prioritize Your Mind, Body, and Spirit
I’ve never run a marathon before, but those whom I know of have said, “Running a marathon is more mental than physical.” To finish a marathon, you have to have the mental ability to strengthen and renew your mind. When your body wants to give up, your mind will encourage you to keep going. When the days get tough, your patience is thin, and you are easily angered, take a timeout, or as I like to say, “Mind Your Mental” or “Be Kind To Your Mind.” Prioritizing your mind, body, and spirit can involve meditation, yoga, exercise, reading books, listening to encouraging music or a podcast, etc.
On those days that require an extra dose of grace, remember to receive it and give it. When you thrive, your family thrives. When a family thrives, they have the ability to greatly contribute to thriving communities.
Consider the Climate and Terrain
When it begins to rain on race day, the run can feel overwhelming. For many people of color, the recent onslaught of racial tension has felt like running a marathon in a storm. It is important for families and loved ones to not only be aware of mental illnesses, but also the impact of mental illness on individuals and the family as a whole. Thriving and finishing this race well is less about success, and more about mentally healthy parents, children, and families, destigmatizing mental illness.
May we remember to promote treatment and family education to help break the stigmas often associated with mental illness in families and communities of color. Be encouraged to get mental health checkups and spread awareness today.
About the Author
Deitra Baker is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, parenting consultant, ESL Teacher, mother of three, home educator, and founder of The Teaching Wife. She is married to her husband Kevin, who plays a major role in her ability to rock the many hats she wears. Deitra has worked with children and families since before she can remember, and over years has gained a lot of experience and insight into family dynamics, and the role behaviors play in building a house of love. More simply put, Deitra teaches busy moms how to practically manage parenting and the mental health of their family. She is passionate about helping parents add new tools to their tool belt, sharpening the tools they already have, and helping them see the value of their role as an expert in their child’s life. To expand her reach, Deitra is currently creating content on her Youtube channel, The Teaching Wife. She is a mental health advocate and desires to help break the stigmas associated with mental illness. Deitra enjoys spending time with her family and doing things to strengthen her mind, body, and spirit. Follow her on Instagram @theteachingwife for real and relatable parenting tips, and mental health support.