Being a parent is hard work at the best of times. Wonderful, rewarding and fulfilling work, to be sure, but hard work nonetheless. Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, though, Moms have found it harder and harder to keep themselves as energized, positive and optimistic as they want to be. The combination of erratic sleeping patterns, weird dreams, anxiety and general malaise have all combined to make the average household a powderkeg of pent up emotions. Cabin fever is beginning to set in, and while we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in some areas it’s safe to say that we’ll have to change our parameters for “normal” for the foreseeable future. As parents, we live in a near-constant state of worry for our families.
Anxiety, frustration, depression and general emotional volatility seem to be the order of the day, every day. And when we’re largely confined to our homes we tend to deal with that frustration by being as proactive as possible around the home. Housework is therapeutic and meditative for many. Keeping the home clean, tidy and orderly helps us to feel as though we’re exerting a modicum of order over a situation that’s completely outside of our control. However, even the saintliest Moms can experience frustrations around the home while under lockdown. Unfortunately, if we don’t address them, we can risk internalizing them and treating them as personal failures.
With this in mind, let’s look at some common home frustrations while under lockdown and what you can do about them…
The house never quite feels clean enough
For the houseproud, a clean and tidy home is a restful home. But when the whole family are spending much of their day under one roof, it’s quite common for the house to never quite feel clean enough. No matter how hard you work, you’re still not satisfied. There seems to be dirt and grime on surfaces you just scrubbed. The laundry doesn’t smell as fresh as it used to. The dishes never quite lose all of their grime.
This can be extremely frustrating. It can feel as though you’re toiling non-stop yet never getting anywhere. What’s more, it can drive a wedge between you and your family. It can cause you to see them in an antagonistic light. Why can’t they see the mess they’re making and the detrimental effect it’s having on your wellbeing?
What to do
First of all… cut yourself some slack. You’re only one person, and as therapeutic as you may find housework in the current circumstances, it’s time to accept your limits. Remember that you don’t need to make your home alone. Make up a rota together and ensure that everyone under your roof does their part every day to keep the home clean and tidy. Encourage everyone to try and get into the habit of resetting every room after they leave. This means doing a little straightening out to make the home look like how they’d want to find it.
You’ll find that it’s easier to stay on top of the housework when everyone is doing a little bit regularly rather than waiting for it to become a Herculean task. Oh, and don’t underestimate the difference that little things like yellowed outlet and light switch covers can make.
When it comes to the dishes, you may need to give them a little longer to soak if they still feel greasy no matter how much you scrub them. And if your laundry is smelling a little funky even after washing, it may be worth checking out this post on how to clean your washing machine.
Oh, and speaking of laundry. Be wary of doing too much laundry every day. Yes, it’s important to keep on top of your laundry, but when you have clothes hanging out to dry on every available doorframe, radiator and surface it can make your home look and feel cluttered.
Feeling like, no matter how much you’re doing, you should be doing more
Many of us are still doing our jobs as best we can from home. However, there are also many working Moms out there who have been placed on furlough. As such, those of a professional disposition may be feeling rudderless and lacking in direction. You try to keep yourself busy around the home as well as throwing your energy into creative pursuits. But no matter what you do or how much you accomplish, you feel like you could and should be doing more.
What to do
This is a perfectly common phenomenon. Lots of working Moms are unaccustomed to spending so much time away from the workplace and the change of pace may be very jarring indeed. While it’s great that you hold yourself to very high standards, perhaps you need to be a little easier on yourself. Try and focus on what you’ve accomplished each day while reminding yourself that the current state of affairs is finite.
When you get back to work, you may find that you wish you’d spend your time at home differently. Practicing a little CBT to silence your inner saboteur can ensure that you’re happier and more fulfilled at home. No matter how much, or how little you’re doing.
Work / life balance seems impossible
Finally, on the flip side, there are a lot of working Moms who are struggling to find their work / life balance because they’re now, effectively, living at work. They struggle to be productive when working from home because of the constant knocks on the door from the little ones. Or they may struggle to keep to set working hours because their meticulous and diligent natures won’t allow them to accept “good enough”, and cause them to work long into the evening.
What do to
One of the most important things to do is to keep to set working hours. Otherwise, it’s all-too easy to let your working hours consume your day. Make sure you have set hours within which you’re available to your kids, and hours during which they can only knock on your office door of it’s a genuine emergency.
With the right organizational and cognitive infrastructure in place, you will make it through the remaining weeks of lockdown with your sanity and goodwill intact.