Well, mamas, it’s been over a month since we’ve all been quarantined at home and thrust into the new, bizarre reality that is life during COVID-19. While every household is different having its own set of challenges, with many far greater than my own, honestly, it has been a really hard few weeks. We have three kids 4 and under, so there’s that. Keeping my 4 and 2-year-old engaged, getting along, and trying to still provide a bit of educational stimulation for them each day is a lot. And then, there’s the baby, who is in that about to crawl/teething a lot clingy phase. Add in a husband who works overnights, and therefore has to sleep during the day, and it’s a pretty chaotic scene over here. My husband and I are both in the TV business—him, still on the news side of things, so he’s obviously been very busy. For my work, in addition to hosting videos and writing here on NJMOM, I’m also a brand rep on QVC, appearing on-air there regularly as well as on other various networks as a lifestyle expert and contributor. So, what would have been my in-studio appearances has shifted to taping from home, and other creative socially distant set-ups. I’ve learned over the past 4 short years what a juggling act working motherhood is—but this is a whole new ballgame. So, what are my #momwins each day? Here are a few things that have clicked for us and admittedly, a few things we’re still working out.
A (Loose) Routine
I’m a planner by nature and thrive on structure, so for me, having a general expected flow to the day is helpful. With that said, I’m not living by a rigid schedule right now—plenty of days are one big blur and there are many that don’t go according to plan. But we have found a general flow to the day. My kids are early risers so we’re usually eating breakfast by 7. After that, they play or watch a show while I clean the kitchen, get dressed, and maybe throw in a load of laundry.
The baby is usually ready for her first nap by 8:30/9, and that’s when I try to plan a structured activity for the other two. Their preschool doesn’t have Zoom sessions or guided teaching per se, but they have laid out short daily educational activities that we’ve done together. We’ve also done a TON of coloring and art projects with a few they do independently, offering me some time to answer emails or write. I’m not much of a crafter but we’ve even taken on a few of those. Oh— and if you have kids 5 and under, @busytoddler and @dayswithgrey are Instagram must-follows for unique educational play ideas. My kids played with a “water pouring station” for two and a half hours the other day while I got things done around the house and tackled my inbox— a huge win for me.
For structure, having snack time and lunch at the same time every day, as well as having my younger two kids nap at the same time in the afternoon, is something I was doing before all this started and has definitely helped keep me sane.
My husband usually gets up around 3, and we either all get outside together, or he takes them for a bit while I plow through some work before starting dinner. We eat together in the 5/5:30 range, then it’s the bathtime bedtime rush and we aim to get them in bed by 7. I spend many evenings working while they’re in bed and try to be in bed myself by 10.
Dressing for the Occasion
Yes, I’ve clocked most of this past month in PJs, and my kids have been in them even more. No shame in that game, I’m actually a huge proponent of jammie days. But with things so confining right now, I’ve found getting dressed and taking a few minutes to feel put together for the day (even if it’s in yoga pants I’ve worn 3 times this week) really makes me feel better. It sets the tone for a new day and just feels like a fresh start, which is so helpful.
Moving and Grooving
We all know kids need to MOVE. We try to get outside as much as we can, but it is April and that means plenty of rainy days with nowhere to go. We’ve done several of the virtual classes offered by New Jersey businesses (Rockness Music is a fave) and like many others during quarantine, we’ve newly discovered Cosmic Kids Yoga and GoNoodle.
When we’ve had a lot of TV, they’re fighting, the baby is fussy and my patience is tapped, I’ve also found just putting on some fun music is such a great reset for everybody because who doesn’t love a good dance party? It’s really become a tool I’m breaking out every day and is such a mood booster for all of us. We especially love NJ’s own The Laurie Berkner Band to bring out some silly.
And as always, getting in a workout for myself does wonders for my own mental health. It’s not happening as often as I would like right now, but I am taking it where I can get it, even trying the family-friendly ones. There are so many great local gyms streaming virtually right now. Work it Out and Alpha Fit Club are two I’m loving.
Cooking My Feelings
We all have something we love to do that helps us get to our happy place and for me, that’s cooking. Spending a few minutes to chop and stir with a glass of wine is so therapeutic for me, so I’m making it a point to really try to savor my time cooking dinner each night. My hubby is great about helping me do that, too. He also loves to cook, and the kids love helping, so some nights it’s a family affair. There are plenty of other nights though where I’m frazzled and done for the day, and he’ll spend time with them while I have that time to myself. Either way, I really look forward to it and it’s a constant that helps me manage my feelings.
What’s Not Working
There is nothing smooth or easy about getting work done in 20-minute increments while the kids play together, amidst the background noise of Paw Patrol, with pauses to break up fights or change diapers. It’s just difficult. I haven’t found a magic formula to make my workflow, well, work. And honestly, I’m not sure it’s possible given our current scenario. Or at least that’s what I hear from every other working mom. I’m trying to get better about just accepting that it’s just going to be hard for a while, and that’s just that. The entire workplace landscape has drastically changed, and my line of business is no different. While I’m trying to pivot and shift my focus to professional projects that make the most sense financially and logistically, it’s been hard to not get in my head about not working hard enough or making business progress. And then I remind myself this is a pandemic—it’s okay.
With the increased need for germ control, and five people in the house all day, every day— 3 of whom cannot clean toilets, fold laundry or disinfect the groceries— the days are filled with non-stop cleaning. And I just cannot keep up. I constantly have at least one load of laundry that needs folding, crumbs reappear on my floors as soon as I’m done sweeping and I have never gone through this much disinfectant spray in my life. Before this all started, we were fortunate to have a cleaning service doing a deep clean once a month. It drastically helped us, and while we always appreciated it, I think we definitely have a newfound level of gratitude for those kinds of luxuries. A clean house just makes me feel so much lighter and I’m finding it hard to make it work with littles and time—any suggestions?
Stress Management + Self Care
With all of that said, I’ve struggled on and off with anxiety, and this high-pressure situation we’re in right now is ripe for extreme stress and anxiousness to rear their heads. With my usual routes for self-care—a solo sweat sesh, a trip to Target, or a mani/pedi—out the window, I haven’t been able to carve out the stress relief I need normally, let alone with all of the added stuff happening. I know as moms this is hard for us all, and it makes total sense that right now, it’s even more difficult. This week I did a ladies’ night virtual happy hour with my college friends after the kids were in bed and it was so great. I’m vowing to do more things like this from here on out.
So, there you have it, mamas. I would love to hear what is working for you all. We are in this together and need to support one another, even if we can’t do it over a glass of wine or a coffee date.