During a time of isolation, feelings of rejection heighten. If you’ve dealt with a messy breakup, been abandoned, or experienced major death loss, this covid chaos might bring you full circle to Stage 1 of grief, which you thought had passed. Add to that children in your face, fingers under the bathroom door, and tweenage attitudes about school assignments, and these feelings of rejection can be debilitating. Here are a few suggestions from an overstressed mum. Some may work for you, and if they don’t, keep trying, try others, tweak them, add to the list, and know that your aloneness is a feeling, not a fact.
- Start your day with motivation. I’m a huge fan of getting up first, before everyone else, and starting with YouTube motivation videos. There are some lengthy ones for those who want to meander and some quick five-minute boosts for people like me who really want to start out full-speed ahead. Start out not thinking of what needs to be done, but rather, what you are capable of doing.
- Set goals. It’s harder for those with children who only want pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese 24/7, or for those who are truly quarantined and eating out of cans. However, your body is your mind’s support system, so if you can dedicate yourself to a salad a day, lower carbs, and 2.7 liters (91 fluid ounces) of water per day, you will find yourself happy about meeting these goals. You might have more energy, but a greater sense of accomplishment helps. Your goal might be simpler: making the bed, waking the children peacefully, singing while cooking. These small goals give you a picture of your abilities, not just your challenges.
- Check in with yourself during the day. Probably three hours into parenting a teenager who is behind and unmotivated is a good time to go the bathroom for a check-in. You might need that YouTube motivation video again or some scriptures/other faith devotions or another inspirational method of calming yourself and reminding yourself that you matter.
- Schedule everything. I make charts and schedules that are never fully followed. I have chore wheels with no reward stickers and checklists that are half-done. So what? When I take time to look at what needs to be done and make a visual possibility for accomplishing it all, it helps. Even if it’s not completed or not fully participated in, the act of scheduling really does keep me moving throughout the day and helps the children see how much work it takes to be amazing… almost amazing… or even halfway to amazing.
- Have mercy. I am not a helicopter parent… unless you count climbing onto the roof to fetch the remote-controlled helicopter that landed and wouldn’t come down. That, of course, resulted in a pot boiling over, a slippy puddle in the kitchen floor, and the end of all clean towels. Dinner was late, and the schedule — yet again — was left incomplete. However, the helicopter was a big deal to my boys, and I needed them to know that I can adapt to changes in my life as much as this shutdown has required of them. I have to have mercy on myself and my children’s expectations. I can’t monitor every step they take or dictate exactly how they fly their helicopter. So I have to live with mercy enough to enjoy the moments that are right now.
- Go to bed mindful. The dishes will wait. The empty checklist can be redated for tomorrow. Set a time for you to go to bed, listen to a podcast, watch a show, read a chapter, or spend time browsing social media. Find what allows you to wind down and go to sleep without a full and worried mindset. Your rest is your refuel, and even a short night can be an effective rest when your mind is relaxed and grateful. End each night recounting the blessings, not the stressors, of the day.
These are the habits I’ve built, failed at, tried to build again, and found some relief from. I may feel rejected, but I don’t have to live in rejection. I circle back to Stage 1 of grief fairly regularly and consider that my circling back means I moved forward at some point and can and will do so again.
By Yaki Cahoon