Let's face it, mom rage is REAL. Your kid has the 10th meltdown of the day when you already feel like a mom zombie and suddenly, you snap and start using your "loud voice." Yes, my 4-year-old son came up with that one. The new normal of raising our kids 24-7 while living in isolation is not so normal. It’s no wonder we feel crazed, burned out, tired, and ready to commit to emotional eating until further notice.
Parenting is also only part of the load. According to a recent survey from May 2020, women spend more time than men on household chores and homeschooling during the pandemic. With back-to-school already underway in some regions and just days away in the NYC area, we’re committing two hours a day to our almost 5-year-old’s kindergarten curriculum.
Now that this is our second round with at-home learning since the pandemic began, I’ve learned that his desk set up and learning environment matters. Doing class Zoom calls in the living room is a no-go since his toys and television are too close for comfort. Instead, we set up a desk for all of his school supplies, workbooks, and his iPad.
On top of playing the role of educator, there is also the emotional labor moms go through with family members and spouses. There is no balance when it comes to co-parenting right now, but we still have to get through this together and try to maintain our sanity. How exactly?
There are several ways to cope—exercising, group calls with friends and family, reading more, picking up a new hobby, and keeping busy with projects around the house, among other things. But I've found success through other means. Here are the ways I've managed my mom rage during the quarantine with my two kids.
I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell has time for THAT? Yes, it's possible. During the week, I select two or sometimes three days out of the week to wake up before my kids and meditate. There are some days that I rather hit the snooze button, but I still commit to meditating before bed. I’ll set up a yoga mat in our bedroom close to the windows, open the window for fresh air, and light a candle. Setting the mood allows me to hit the reset button from my usual view of toys and spit-up on the floor.
The practice of mindful breathing and releasing negative emotions allows me to melt the burnout. It doesn’t take long either. Just 10 to 15 minutes of meditation make a huge difference in my overall attitude. The best part? I challenge myself to sit and feel all of the feelings. The uneasy and uncomfortable ones. The mom guilt. The frustration. I sit with it and release it. I find that after some time, I end up making more space for love and gratitude instead.
Going Dry During the Weekdays
Those memes showcasing the wine being chugged in the months of March, April, and May are REAL life. After a tough day, I would find myself pouring a glass or two of wine, but the problem was that the tough days became every day. The increase in alcohol consumption began to affect my mood. I felt more depressed, sluggish, and even moodier. I decided to cut the late-night happy hours out of my schedule. While it took a few weeks to adjust, it's a lifestyle now. Call it the new normal for my wine delivery guy and my wallet too.
When I used to think of self-care, a trip to the spa or dinner with girlfriends would come to mind. Nowadays, a date with my therapist is the ultimate form of self-care. As a caregiver, wife, and daughter of aging parents, my load is to the max these days. I’m taking care of laundry, cooking, raising a toddler and infant, on top of having to homeschool again soon. Instead of having my family and kids carry my emotional load, I get to release it all and talk about ways to cope with my therapist. One of the perks of a pandemic is that therapy sessions are done remotely. I noticed that with treatment, I’m able to manage my rage and emotions better. She helps change my internal voice and the mom guilt I feel after having a breaking moment. The emotional load all of a sudden feels clean, folded, and organized.
Going for a Walk with the Kids
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air. Adding a morning or evening walk into our weekly routine has dramatically changed all of our moods. It helps boost my energy while also tiring out my toddler a little more. Science backs our response too. According to a 2015 Stanford University study, going on a brief walk was associated with decreased anxiety and improved, happier moods. I’ll take it, please! With indoor walks to the kitchen, bathroom, and living room, my body also needs more circulation. The mental boost is almost instant. Trend alert: Walks should no longer be underrated.
That mom energy that I give to my kids every single day, I make sure to offer that to myself. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m aware of the voice that says, “You were a sucky mom today for yelling.” I offer an alternative voice that comes from a place of love and understanding. So instead, I created a new voice that says, “Today was rough, but you tried your best. Your kids love you, and there’s no better mom on the planet for them than you.” The mantras vary, but ultimately it also allows me to connect to that little girl inside of me. In turn, I see myself in them and empathize easier. I end up quieting the rageful voice and know that tomorrow is always a chance for a fresh start.