Are you struggling? You are NOT alone.
You can’t fix the system (or the pandemic), but your well-being isn’t totally out of your hands.
Hi, Practice families.
Parenting is hard under the best of circumstances. And the last year has been FAR from the best of circumstances. As parents, we’ve been confronted with both personal and parenting-related challenges and stressors far more frequently and far more intensely than in a normal year.
Part of what’s driving this is outside of our control. Neither you nor I can single-handedly impact the overall course of the pandemic, or change the overall cultural and systemic factors that have left U.S. parents high and dry over the course of the last fourteen months.
But even within the context of this larger stress and dysfunction that is out of our hands, we do always have some agency and control. Our actions at this individual level won’t shape or change the larger picture. But they can influence how we feel. They can help us access a little more emotional equanimity. They can make it more likely that we will be able to show up in our lives (and for our kids!) in ways we feel good about, even in the middle of stress and chaos.
No matter how you’re feeling about how you’re coping in this moment, I’d like to encourage you to take a few minutes today to reflect on what is and is not working for you at the moment. Notice when you feel good about how things are going. Think about shifts you can make that might help you replicate those successes– or just move in that direction by one tiny degree. Maybe it’s setting up a system or routine for making mornings easier. Maybe it’s finding a tiny, consistently manageable bit of space for yourself.
No, these things are not going to solve the impossibly increased demands presented by pandemic parenthood. But they might make things run a little more smoothly, give you a little more grounding, a little more patience. It can be easy to get caught up in the overwhelm, to feel like these tiny shifts don’t matter given the enormity of the challenges in front of us. But spoiler alert: they do.
If you’re feeling maxed out and want more ideas about how to shift this dynamic, please consider taking an hour to join me and Dr. Stephanie Rooney from our clinical team tomorrow (Tuesday, May 11, 12pm-1pm Pacific) for our latest parent lunch and learn: Parenting When You’re Not Okay. You’ll walk away with some actionable tips to help yourself hang on as we navigate what hopefully are the last throes of pandemic parenthood.
And stay tuned for a new class/support group for moms, coming this summer– focused on helping you re-center and re-establish your foundation for a happier post-pandemic life. More to come soon (or sign up here to get the details as soon as we release them!).
P.S., a few good links:
- Tip: recognize and celebrate successes! Along those lines: 12 mothers for the NYT on their secret strengths. My favorite is the one from Kate J. Baer, “Feigning Interest in Minecraft,” but they are all good.
- Tip: dig deep for some self-compassion. On this topic: Why parents need a little self-compassion (Center for Greater Good)
- 5 tips for taming back to school anxiety (New York Times), or The nervous person’s guide to re-entering society (also New York Times).
- There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: It’s called languishing (and again, New York Times)
- I’m currently reading this manifesto on raising feminist sons (Amazon)– hear the author on NPR LifeKit: Parenting here.