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If wife, mother, and start-up co-founder wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I’ve apparently taken on a few new roles recently. Think of them as positions I didn’t apply for and never wanted but somehow landed anyway. They are, in no particular order: housekeeper, laundress, chef, barber, beautician, immunologist, one-woman hazmat crew, and the most challenging of all…TEACHER.
Like millions of mothers around the world, I want to thank each and every person who has ever voluntarily taught any child anything at all. I’ve only been at it for 8 weeks, and I am pretty sure my 1st grader has actually regressed. Luckily, there’s Roblox, a video game that teaches her all the things I can’t, like how to stay up late and avoid academia. She’s basically me in college, only 7.
And then there are my boys, ages 12 and 13, who know better than to ask me to help them with their online school work because, truthfully, I couldn’t do it if you paid me. Moreover, since I am not getting paid for any of the above-mentioned new jobs (um, barber), I will certainly not be getting paid for helping the boys. In the meantime, I’m trying to stay sane, which really is the highest of callings and probably the very best thing you can do for your children. Below are 5 ways I’ve found to keep it all together, or at least to keep it all from coming apart.
1. Stay on a schedule.
It’s practically Groundhog Day, every day in our household, and that’s a good thing. We get up, get fed, get installed on our various Zoom sessions, and re-convene at lunchtime. We clean up the house in the late afternoon, get outdoors for a bit just thereafter, and then eat dinner as a family. Instead of monotonous, I find it comforting, and I think that the children do, too.
2. Stay fit.
I know working out is enormously tough when we’re all stuck in the house a half a room away from the fridge. The gym may be closed, and Soulcycle may have stopped spinning, but the world has not. I do yoga via Zoom five days a week from 5:30–6:30 with the help of a gifted instructor who teaches on the Zeel platform. This set-up not only gives me some “me” time but keeps my lower back and core strong enough to carry the laundry up and down three flights of stairs, five hundred times a day. Tip: if you have children under 5, do the workout during naptime or after bedtime.
3. Stick to a healthy menu.
Gut health is a key factor in immunity, and all the vitamin supplements in the world can’t replace the real thing: good nutrition. During the pandemic, I’m putting an extra focus on healthy, home-made meals that are packed with fruits, veggies, lean proteins and natural immune boosters like citrus, spinach, bell peppers, ginger, garlic, almonds, and pistachios. Fun fact: you can put turmeric in just about anything and your kids probably won’t even notice, although your napkins sure will. Tip: color-fast bleach gets the stains out.
4. Stay in touch.
I swear my husband has had Zoom calls with college friends he hasn’t seen in 20 years. Be it FaceTime, Houseparty, Webex, Zoom, or just a good old phone call, staying in touch has never been easier, more colorful, or more vital to our health and well-being. I speak to my Dad every morning and check in with my girlfriends at night. We are in isolation, but we do not need to feel isolated in these uncertain times.
5. Say THANK YOU.
Teach your kids to be grateful for every person out there putting his or her life on the line so we can comfortably “shelter-in.” To every nurse, doctor, firefighter, police officer, hospital orderly, bus driver, Walmart associate, and grocery store clerk whose job it has been to keep us safe and fed: Our family could not be more grateful.
I know we’ve all taken on a lot, but I truly believe that as our roles have expanded, so have our hearts. For every meal you make (6 a day, with growing boys) and every load of laundry, for every Zoom glitch, bike fall, bad day, birthday, banana cake and bedtime story, for every haircut and house cleaning, frustration, fear of failing (worse yet, fear of them failing) Fortnite argument, general argument, and all that’s in between, just remember this: Motherhood itself has been the greatest gift, and even on our toughest days, we know it.
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