Obviously, none of us saw it coming. In January of 2020, we had just made the decision to change our youngest, who had been attending Saratoga Independent School only part time, to FULL-TIME. Oh, I had big plans. Plans to be done with this decade as a stay-at-home-mom. Plans to get BACK to work full-time. Plans to re-start my life as an entrepreneur. I was feeling AWESOME. But I had no idea what the arrival of covid-19 was about to do. The pandemic changed me in so many ways, and NOT all for the better.
I was in great shape, both physically and mentally. I felt good, and ready for this next chapter. I had spent several weeks putting pen to paper, completing many “Insight to Action” activities from Marie Forleo’s “Everything is Figureoutable“. I was SO excited for all four boys, FINALLY, to be in school. Until that one day. The day when they were sent home with the folder containing next week’s work… JUST IN CASE this covid thing got out of control. And you know how that story ended. (Oh wait, it never ended.)
Every mom I know tried their VERY HARDEST to keep those balls in the air. And there’s not ONE who didn’t drop, at least one, shortly after. The overwhelm and VERY memorable months of home schooling were just the beginning. What I have found equally as difficult (but in an entirely different way) has been the “slow burn.” The following months of unpredictability and school absences. The socialization paranoia. The holiday seasons void of celebrations and chorus concerts. The combination of all this has taken a toll on me, changing me in many ways. Some good, and others, well… not so good.
- I STARTED A MORNING ROUTINE. The schedules of the four boys, plus the re-entry into full time work, plus the chasing of a then three-year-old created a to-do list that was more than my head could handle. By waking 1-2 hours before the boys and starting each day with intention, I felt WAY more organized about the day. Even if I was losing a little sleep. Beginning in April 2020, I still start each day with my Full Focus Planner, laying out my daily schedule and setting my top three objectives for the day.
- I DECREASED MY BOOZE CONSUMPTION. A funny thing happened, and it taught me something about myself. As much of the world started drinking more during those long days of quarantine, I stopped drinking. For a long time. Like months, and months. I realized that as soon as I felt things spiraling out of control in the OUTSIDE world, I needed to do as much as possible to keep control of my INSIDE world. The elimination of alcohol helped dramatically. Although I do still drink alcohol, I have found that I drink much less frequently, even years later.
- MY MEDITATION PRACTICE BECAME ROUTINE. I started meditating years ago, but hadn’t done much since I’ve had kids. With the unpredictability of the pandemic bringing on lots of anxious feelings, I knew I MUST stay mentally well to keep this ship of six afloat. I started routinely meditating again, and was thrilled to learn how much easier it is, decades later, with all the apps and audio guided meditations at our fingertips. (I used to seek out meditation cassette tapes and listen in a walkman, LOL). My far from perfect meditation practice is one of the best things that came out of covid, honing a lifelong skill that I can use to get through all the challenges to come.
AND THE NOT-SO GOOD.
- I GAINED WEIGHT. It started by spending WAY too much time in the kitchen. Making meal, after meal, after meal. And continued by stopping my almost decade long HIIT routine at the gym. The combination absolutely changed my body. After years of focusing on metabolism and muscle tone, I was now focused on getting outside and listening to uplifting podcasts while jogging my worries away. And although I’m surprisingly okay with this little weight gain, it does disappoint me that I’m unable to wear some of my very favorite things from my closet. (And if you haven’t noticed, I just LOVE clothes.)
- I AM LESS PRESENT. With meetings becoming virtual and work life becoming more home-based, the line between work time and family time has become majorly blurred. This continues to be something that I’m working on, and something that I’m predicting many of you are as well. As schooling becomes more predictable, I’m assuming that this will get a bit easier, and allow me to routinely get into the office.
- KIDS’ SCREEN TIME HAS INCREASED. This is really a result of the previous point. And the fact that much of their work, now, is done online. This is the change that I am LEAST proud of. And although we still haven’t purchased anyone a phone, technology is creeping into our lives more than ever. I fully acknowledge the effects that screen time has on our children. And the fact that WE, THE PARENTS have the power to change the situation.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to give ourselves a little grace after the unprecedented challenges we have faced these last two years. But I encourage you to look beyond those few bad habits you may have picked up, and focus on the clarity the pandemic has given us. And how it has helped us determine what is TRULY important to us, and how we choose to spend our limited time from this point forward.