Moms Often Carry the Load – But Global Crisis is Breeding More “Mom Guilt” Than Ever

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

 

While it is always difficult to be a working parent, there’s a whole new layer of responsibility on our shoulders while our nation adjusts and copes with the fallout of a global pandemic.

Many households are now experiencing an adjustment of epic proportions – working at home, teaching their children, keeping the housework caught up with everyone home at every moment.

In some ways, this “new normal” has allowed families to slow down and spend more quality time, but for many moms, it’s added even more to the already unmanageable load.

For people who have been able to keep their jobs, it’s hard not to feel grateful and blessed – but it’s still an adjustment as we deal with new circumstances.

And while we are all learning how to work in a different environment with all sorts of distractions – the kids are home, after all – it is often mothers who bear the brunt of handling the changes and challenges.

Studies have shown that, even now, working mothers still do the majority of the childcare and household chores.   Mental health professionals call it the “second shift” – women coming home after a full workday to hours of childcare, homework, and housework.

Add to that the additional hours of childcare for kids who are home from school for the foreseeable future, the extra meal preparation, the extra cleaning (like massive amounts of dishes), and it’s tough to adjust and stay sane.

And then add to that the responsibility for monitoring or even teaching kids their school lessons while continuing to be required full-time for your job – and it can be a recipe for disaster.

Too many changes at one time can often breed stress in the best of times.  And we’ve all experienced a lot of changes happening quite quickly in recent weeks.

If we were overworked, overextended, and overwhelmed before – well, now we’re just trying to survive one day at a time.

For moms, it can lead to even more guilt than that ever-present “mom guilt” that we always seem to feel.  Now, we feel guilty that we have to work when our kids are right there at home needing us to be their teacher and parent.

There’s not enough of us to go around – to take care of everything that needs our attention and to do it all well – or even just “good enough.”

We want to make sure everyone is safe, healthy, clean – and, yes, happy – at all times.  We are the caregivers.  It’s part of our genetic makeup; our instinct.

And it can drive us to a dark place when it all becomes too much to handle.

That’s where many mothers are finding themselves during this unprecedented time.  Exhausted, unsure, scared, overwhelmed… the list goes on and on.

But if you feel lost and emotional with all that’s going on, you are not alone.  This “New Normal” Mom Club has a lot of members.

So how can moms lower their “mental load” during this crisis – and until things get back to some semblance of normalcy?

First, it’s important to nip that mom guilt in the bud.

We’re all experiencing new challenges and emotions right now.  Now is not the time to strive for perfection (which doesn’t exist anyway).  Now is the time to give ourselves grace.

We can do our best at the things we can control – and let go of what we can’t.

Did you survive (and act professionally) on your Zoom meeting because the kids were playing video games and eating Cheetos?  It’s ok.  It really is.

We have to prioritize at times like these.  The meeting may be more important at that time than giving the kids a healthy snack or a productive activity to do.  You jump over the hurdle however you can, and then regroup.

Maybe your child has a big project due for school and you have no idea how to complete it with what you have on hand – and what you may (or may not) remember from your own school days.

Helping them work on their project may mean frozen pizza for dinner instead of a homemade, balanced meal.  It’s ok.  It really is.

This is another hurdle; another task that may have taken priority over something else.

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So prioritizing your tasks and responsibilities is vital, but so is staying connected and asking for help.  We’re hearing this all over the media now – “stay connected” – and it couldn’t be more important.

Reach out to your child’s teacher if you need guidance.  Call their classmate’s mother and get her input on the project that’s due.

And while you’re at it, strike up a conversation about how they’re handling everything that’s going on.  Chances are, they’re struggling to keep up and stay sane, just like you may be.

When a crisis arises, we are all in a different frame of mind.  We tend to focus on the basics, and sometimes, the basics are all we can get done.

It’s ok.  It really is.

So, try to let go of the mom guilt.  Prioritize, and don’t even try for perfection.  It doesn’t exist.  Ask for help and stay connected with others who are going through the same thing.

We all are right now – there isn’t a mom out there who isn’t going through an adjustment right now.

Take care of you, give yourself grace, and do things that give yourself and your family enjoyment and hope.

This too shall pass – and maybe we’ll all learn a little something about ourselves from the challenges we’re facing.

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