This is a guest post by The Mom Project Community member Vanessa Bertone. If you are a Community member with a unique story to share let us know.
As a working mother, I was already starting to feel pretty exhausted from everyday life even before the pandemic. My never ending to-do list just seemed to be getting longer by the minute. My husband and I had even been discussing how burned out we were feeling and thinking about a mini-getaway.
Then we went into lock down.
Our world was immediately put on pause. But it also felt like maybe this was an opportunity to slow down. Could this—minus the pandemic part of it—be what we needed? Maybe we’d even get a chance to finish some of those DIY house projects we’ve been putting off.
After lots of adjusting schedules, both our kids starting remote learning and figuring out how to all work under one roof at all times though, I was feeling even more burned out than ever. A feeling I’m sure many working parents can relate to. I was struggling with keeping a positive outlook, feeling like we couldn’t look ahead and plan for future family events, let alone keep the kids entertained without handing them an electronic device. I had so many questions about how to do this “new normal” but the feeling of burnout held me back.
I just wanted to shake this off. But how? I could hardly find time to get to the necessities of life in a pandemic so it took some creativity to find ways to get to a place that felt less exhausting.
Making time for myself
At first the idea of finding a few moments for myself seemed laughable. With two kids under 5 and a full time job how would I even plan that time? It was like cutting class or sneaking out of a team meeting a few minutes before it ended. Stepping away from my family and taking a few moments to myself felt like the opposite of what I should be doing during a pandemic, but I knew I needed to take care of myself first. To show up for the person I wanted to be.
Slowly, I started to carve out time. Some days I was motivated to get up early and get the day started before everyone else woke up. Other days, it was just easier to hit snooze and plan for something in the evening. But no matter when it happened, I found that getting up and moving my body felt amazing.
Finding time for yourself can look different every day. Some days it’s a few quiet minutes in the morning, others it happens in the evening after bedtimes are done. The important thing is to find those minutes in each day.
A brisk walk, a quick run or cycling really changed my mood and mindset. I was able to think more clearly and it gave me the opportunity to lean into how I was feeling at that moment—alone and without worrying about my family.
This time also helped me become more aware of what I needed to get through my day. Sometimes it was as simple as remembering to drink more water or to block out some time on my work calendar for a break from being in front of my screen.
Finding my tribe
There have been times throughout the pandemic where I felt alone in how I was feeling or about what we were going through as a family. Working out wasn’t always the answer—it was only a small part of what was helpful. I knew I needed to connect with others like me, around me.
The idea of finding your tribe was something I learned almost immediately after having my first son. It’s that connection to others who can normalize a situation for you or just listen to what you’re going through. My tribe had gotten me through so many past life events. Why should this moment in time be different?
Like so many others, I made virtual meetups a part of my life as a way to connect with my tribe. I connected with both mom and non-mom friends and family regularly. There were times we would laugh until we cried. Other times we just needed to know that someone else had also had a rough week, but we all made it to the weekend and reminded each other that tomorrow was a new day with an opportunity to give it another shot.
Asking for help
Asking for help isn’t something I normally shy away from. Instead, I embrace it. Asking for help has connected me with some of the amazing women who are part of my tribe today.
We check in on one another, cheer each other on and remind one another that it’s okay to not be okay all the time. Most importantly, we know that we need each other to get through this. We know that none of this can be done alone.
That feeling of burnout is still something I experience from time to time. (What mom doesn’t?) Am I always able to shake it off? No. But one of the things I am sure of is that this, like everything in life, is a journey that we are all on for the first time. We need to give ourselves grace, space and connections to make it as successful as possible, especially when those efforts seem hardest.
Q&A with Vanessa
How did you find The Mom Project? I found out about The Mom Project through LinkedIn.
What motivated you to sign up? I was looking for a way to connect with other working moms.
What has been your favorite aspect, tool or part of The Mom Project? I love being able to hear from other moms and their different journeys. I enjoy being part of the Community and connecting with others.
Vanessa Bertone is a digital community manager with a passion for public speaking and enjoys taking Disney trips with her family whenever possible.