My son’s bedroom door knob makes a familiar squeak whenever he turns it to open the door. He’s 13 and his room is his sanctuary, so when I hear that squeak, I know he’s coming out for food or help with his homework. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, when we’re spending more time at home together than ever, it feels like I’ve started hearing that squeak every 15 minutes—to the point where I caught myself actually cringing one day when I heard it. Of course, no sooner than I cringed did the “mom guilt” set in.
I carried that guilt like a dirty secret. That is, until one day when I was on Facebook and I read the post by a fellow mom; she was expressing her own COVID-related frustrations and the guilt she felt. Her comments were overwhelmingly supportive, though, and reflected similar experiences from other mothers. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t alone in this. Mothers everywhere are struggling to find balance. And to top it off, there’s also the economic impact that the pandemic has had on many working moms.
According to a recent Bloomberg article, more than one million people dropped out of the U.S. workforce in August and September. Of those, 80 per cent were women. As mothers continue to take on the vast majority of housework and childcare, it is largely working moms who are considering quitting their jobs.
Dr. LaVonne Browne, a psychologist and fellow mom, notes via email that she is seeing a significant increase in anxiety amongst mothers—largely as a result of feeling multiple demands that are being placed on them all at once. To soothe this stress, Browne suggests setting realistic expectations and learning to be okay with not doing it all. She also encourages us moms to give ourselves permission to release control and ask for help from spouses, kids, and other loved ones.
Engaging in self-care is also key to help manage stress and release guilt. Of course, you’re probably thinking: when do I have the time? Here are some small and easy ways that you can build self-care into your daily routine.
- Take a 10-minute walk, or set aside five minutes for meditation or journalling. “When moms make their mental health and wellness their priority and create time for themselves, they are more effective in other areas of their lives,” Browne notes. She suggests finding an accountability partner to ensure that you’re actually taking care of you.
- Diffuse essential oils that are aligned with the energy you need. I’m a huge fan of aromatherapy and run my diffusers every day. Some of my favourite essential oils are vitruvi’s calming Sleep and spa-like Retreat blends. Sara Panton’s Essential Well Being is also a great investment that I’ve relied on for recipes like homemade face cleansers and household cleaners, all using essential oils. The book makes it easy to create your own oasis right at home.
- Reach out to a therapist, try a restorative yoga class, or seek out online communities, such as book clubs or support groups. During these times, many practitioners are offering low- to no-cost services. There are resources available. You don’t have to struggle alone.
Hang in there, mama. You’ve got this.