2020 has been remarkably hard on everybody. But this rings especially true for working moms, who have been forced to manage tantrums, facilitate remote learning and entertain pent-up-children, all while trying to hold down a job. The one thing to inevitably go out the window? Self-preservation. We chatted with several therapists to learn the resolutions working parents should make this year, both for themselves and for their families.
1. Articulate 5 Things You Can Let Go Of
Think of it as the art of tagging out. “Make it a goal to give voice to the things you need help with,” says Teri Schroeder, a therapist at Just Mind Counseling. Maybe that’s enlisting your spouse to cover bedtime 50 percent of the week or stating out loud to yourself, “If the floorboards don’t get washed this year, so be it.” Basically, make it a priority to either delegate or let at least a handful of non- important tasks fall off the list.
2. Take an Instagram Hiatus, If You Need One
A pandemic is not the time to lose yourself in comparisons. “We’re all spread incredibly thin right now, which makes comparing yourself to others a slippery slope when you aren’t operating at 100 percent,” says Schroeder. If you notice something—a social media platform, a text chain, a recurring Zoom session with someone who’s pandemic life is fabulous when all you feel is frazzled—give yourself permission to log off/take a break.
3. Schedule 10 Minutes of Silence a Day
Have a quiet breakfast. Meditate. Or not. Bottom line: Make 10 minutes of quiet a day—no interruptions—mandatory on your calendar. “Our culture has lots of longstanding norms around what women are responsible for managing effortlessly and without complaint,” says Anna Kim, a therapist at Kindman & Co. “In addition to the usual roles of mother, employee and/or partner, most working moms in 2020 will have found themselves adding additional job descriptions of medical safety officer, teacher, daycare manager, housekeeper, family therapist and/or emotionally-available member of the neighborhood moms’ group.” That’s where 10 minutes a day comes in. “Think about it: If you can’t take a minute for yourself to address your own feelings, it’s nearly impossible to keep showing up for your family in a sustainable way. In addition, it’s not selfish and it’s not showering-as-self-care—taking care of yourself, whatever that means for you, is caring for your family later.”
4. Make a Pact to Stop Reflexively Saying ‘Yes!’
‘Yes, I can do it all,’ was an ideal issued to working mothers way back when, but reality check: In normal times, you can’t. And during a pandemic? It’s a wonder you have time to down a glass of water, let alone log any sleep. The solve for 2021: Every time you’re about to say yes to something, check in with yourself. “There’s so much pressure to be the most productive and best employee,” says Kim. “We’re often far too quick to weigh the pros and cons for our resume or status, but rarely make sure we have the emotional and energetic capacity to take on yet another responsibility.” Kim’s advice? “Practice asking yourself how you’re doing (but really) and using that answer to help you feel confident in setting boundaries when you need them.”
5. Embrace One Daily Happy-Making Habit in the New Year
Time is limited, this we know. But Loren Lomme, a therapist at Just Mind Counseling, recommends choosing a habit that you do each day for yourself that makes you feel good. “That might be a cup of your favorite hot tea in your favorite mug or reading one chapter of a book that’s been on your reading list or simply taking five minutes to stretch in the morning or before bed,” she says. After all, it’s amazing how a simple ritual can set the tone for your day/week/year.