It’s always been tough out there. But if you’re working from home while caring for a baby, toddler or older kids who would normally be in daycare or school, it’s nuttier than ever.
Sheesh! The more that’s expected of us, the more we demand from ourselves to be the best spouse, doting parent and caring friend because we don’t want to let anything slide. But feeling frazzled isn’t fun for anyone or healthy for you over the long run. “Stressed moms don’t mean to take it out on their kids, but they do, typically by yelling,” says Mary L. Sharp, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. The upshot? Something’s gotta give.
But what? In this Amerisleep sponsored post, we tapped work/life experts and working parents like you for their top sanity-saving tips on how to rebalance the balancing act that may be especially relevant for surviving and thriving during the COVID-19 quarantine. This post contains affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support!
Stress buster: Put you at the top of your
“If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to do a good job of taking care of everybody,” says Ann Chanler, Ph.D., a psychoanalyst and mom of two daughters. While you’re taking care of everybody and everything, tend to your own agenda. That might mean, for example, if you have a choice between returning e-mails or strolling with your baby, take the stroll.
Stress buster: Think less is more
Speaking of your to-do list, for a deeper sense of calm, ask yourself: What can I nix from it? Then choose one thing to delete from that day’s or week’s agenda. Ah. White space in your task tally is good for your kids too. “When Mom relaxes, it gives children permission to slow down,” Sharp says.
Stress buster: Snoozing
“To manage stress, you have to be well-rested,” says Savitri Dixon-Saxon, Ph.D., associate dean of the Walden University School of Counseling and Social Services, an online university. Lack of shut-eye increases your body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone, so try to log in six to eight hours of sleep each night. Your brain needs the down time. More snooze news: Drinking a relaxing cup of tea 30 minutes before bed may help you sleep better. Look for teas like chamomile, valerian, or lavender teas to drink before bed to help reduce stress and anxiety. Other good sleepy tea options are decaf green tea and passion flower.
Stress Buster: Exercise your options
Try to get in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise—Mother Nature’s reset button. To spend more time with your family while you’re at it, be active together by going for walks, hiking, biking together or strolling. Family time is so important in and of itself. If you can incorporate activity into it, it’s a double bonus.
Stress buster: Catch your breath
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, breathe in through your nose to the count of four, exhale through your mouth for a count of four, and so on, for four sets. Once we’re free to go back to the office, “do this simple exercise in the car, in your office, or in the bathroom stall at work if you have to,” says Karol Ward, a licensed clinical social worker in New York City. It helps you think clearly and regain your equilibrium. “I breathe if I’m anxious before phone calls or meetings, or before talking to my kids or my husband when I’m tired. It changes everything,” adds Diana Fletcher, a life coach and author of Happy on Purpose.
Stress buster: Team up on house work
Full-time working women do over 33 hours of domestic chores weekly, while their male counterparts do about 16, according a study published in Women Don’t Ask, by Linda Babcock, professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. To end the dreaded second shift, let some of the housework slide or ask your spouse/partner and older kids for help. Even 7 year olds can do laundry! Doing chores actually helps build a child’s sense of competence. Of course, during the COVID-19 outbreak, you want to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds often and clean and all highly-touched surfaces. But if your standards are exacting, you might want to lower them. So what if the sheets don’t get changed as often or your partner misses a spot when he’s dusting the furniture?
For more tips on balancing work and family during the COVID-19 quarantine, check out these parenting resources from the American Psychological Association.