It is hard being a working mom during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as I am considered an essential worker…
Believe you me, I am exhausted.
Where I live, we are at the very beginning of the infection curve. In other words, we are just starting to get COVID-19 cases. But I am already drained and am seriously wondering how I am going to get through another 2 months of this.
Both my husband and I are “essential workers”, which means, no sheltering-in-place for us. So somehow, we have to juggle life with two kids, full-time jobs…and no form of childcare whatsoever.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful…
I know many people have, are, and will continue to lose their livelihood as this pandemic progresses. We are blessed to be able to still pull in both incomes from a dual-income household.
But we are also worried about being exposed to the virus in our work activities and, even worse, bringing it home to our kids. Yes, kids are the not super high at risk, but tell that to the parents of those in the 1%.
Plus, our local healthcare system is still devastated from recent natural disasters. The reality of them becoming super overwhelmed extremely quickly is very real.
On a lesser but still stressful note, even with two full-time jobs, we have now become full-time teachers for both our kids, one of which has 3 separate homework packages due to current educational needs.
And, let’s just say my part-time business is crawling along…very limply.
So, every day now, I focus on doing three things to get through it all: remembering my value-based priorities, protecting my energy, and sticking only to reputable and necessary news for COVID-19 updates.
I discuss a bit more in detail below how doing these three things are helping me, and could possible help you too.
TIP #1 – Remember your value-based priorities.
The pandemic has almost everyone scared, worried, and anxious. And as a result, it threatens to take over every single moment of our waking thoughts. To combat this a bit, what I’ve been doing is focusing on my priorities before COVID-19.
Of course, at first I had to outline plans to prepare my family to shelter in place for a pretty long time. But after those preparations, it was time to gather myself again…even just a little bit.
Previously, I talked about my priorities based on my values. I realized that they are (1) spending quality time with family and friends, (2) having a healthy working life, and (3) having time for just myself.
So yes, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, my overarching values haven’t changed, and neither do my pandemic-preparation priorities conflict with my value-based ones.
Now, everyday I focus on the joy of being able to spend time with family. I also make sure to connect with other loved ones at least once a day.
I love my job and my business, so with that priority, I make sure to balance the load there as well. I cannot and do not say yes to everything, and am very vocal about resources that are needed to continue to fight the good fight.
When I am home with my kids, I only respond to absolute work emergencies and I make that clear to my team. And I have cut back on part-time business hours a bit as exhaustion ruins my creativity anyhow. I refuse to beat myself up about any of it and acknowledge that we are all pretty much doing the best we can.
And I am not apologetic about asking for a few moments for myself. Thankfully, my husband has been doing a great job balancing the load and helps me find a bit of down time to recover from it all.
Remembering my priorities, especially as they are tied to my core-values and innate happiness, has helped ease a lot of the pandemic-related stress.
TIP #2 – Protect your energy by any means necessary.
The most important thing for me at this time is to protect my energy. I do this by making sure that I am taking my multi-vitamins every day, eating as well as possible and on time throughout the day, and getting to sleep on time.
I also have cut back on time spent navigating through apps on my phone. I have done this a lot before, but realized that my anxiety had me slipping back to relentlessly checking for anything I may have “missed”.
With the kids, I have relaxed a lot of my expectations with them having a rigid schedule or only certain hours of television time. Truth be told, I am happy as long as there is a good enough mix of physically and mentally stimulating activities during the day.
It may be a bit easier for me though because my kids are very naturally active (absolutely genetic, nothing to do with my “greatness” as a mom…I lucked out). So they love running up and down and doing tons of hands-on activities, many times without prompting.
Overall, as a still-working momma, it is just very important to cultivate good, healthy energy levels to battle the inevitable anxiety caused by the unknowns of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. It also helps because of the extra energy expended to meet increased parenting and work-related responsibilities.
TIP #3 – Stick only to reliable and necessary news alerts.
This is partially a protection of energy, but it is such an important tip that it deserves its own section.
We are being inundated with news and social media posts about the coronavirus pandemic. And too much of it is often very misleading, sensationalized, or completely untrue.
Coronavirus is not man-made. Stay away from conspiracy theories. Here’s the truth as of today. The coronavirus is not man-made. Period. Diseases have existed since the beginning of time. There is no perfect world where diseases do not exist, no perfect period of time where people have not died from disease. Period.
Here’s the truth about the numbers. Most people (80%) with coronavirus will experience mild symptoms, and completely recover. Most of the remaining 20% will be hospitalized with severe symptoms…but recover with adequate healthcare. And a smaller percentage will unfortunately pass away (mainly because of underlying conditions…some just because sometimes life totally sucks). And yes, the virus primarily affects elderly folks, although no age group is immune.
Is that a good thing? No. Absolutely not.
Any death from a disease is one death too many. And too many people needing medical care at one time will crash our medical system—which affects everybody. (So, yes, social distancing is a necessary evil in these times.)
Here are some other truths: Yes, washing hands frequently help. Yes, we need to leave N95s for actual healthcare personnel. Yes, people may be asymptomatic and still spread the virus (hence, social distancing). Yes, coronavirus can stay on surfaces for several hours, even days outside of the body (hence, frequent cleaning and social distancing).
So what should you do as a responsible parent and adult? Stick to trusted news and advice.
To help us sensibly navigate these difficult times, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization have created COVID-19 webpages with tons of useful information.
And also consider signing up for your local news alert on how COVID19 is impacting your state and bordering locations.
It is best to focus on getting the best and most reliable information to guide your own actions, and to protect you and your family during this pandemic.
Wishing everyone reading this a safe and healthy time during this pandemic.
See you on the other side of this thing.
(And don’t forget to comment below if you have any other tips you think can help someone else.)