Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Six months ago we could never have imagined the state our lives would be in mid-summer yet here we are. The pandemic, quarantine, economic upheaval, and racial turmoil have collectively changed the overall mental health for both you and your kids.
You may be feeling the effects and wondering how you will ever find your footing when the ground is so unstable right now.
COVID quarantine fatigue may vary from person to person but overall it is defined as a feeling of exhaustion. This exhaustion manifests itself differently but symptoms may include:
- Irritability...difficulty finding joy in being with your kids
- Feelings of anxiety and racing thoughts...you can’t control what school options there will be but you’re spending mental energy constantly trying to plan for it
- Loss of motivation...projects and outdoor play seem like a good idea but you can’t get yourself to do them
- Social withdrawal...Zoom social hour? What’s the point, anymore?
- Eating less or more than normal...self-explanatory 🙂
- Changes in sleeping habits
As overwhelming as it may seem, there IS hope for managing your mental health and that of your family.
The three steps you need to overcome quarantine fatigue:
1. Find your breath. Are you at your wit’s end earlier in the day than normal? Is telling your child to get out of the pool for the third time going to be your undoing for the day?
When you notice the feeling of irritability beginning to rise, stop, notice your feet on the floor, and find your breath. Take your shoes off if possible and really feel your feet. Start with your big toe, noticing each toe before moving down to the soles of your feet and working your way to your heels. We spend the better part of our days in our heads and when faced with overwhelming thoughts, the soles of our feet can bring us a reprieve. Pause and notice. Is your family functioning the way you do every summer? Probably not, but are you doing well despite the circumstances and it is likely you deserve much more credit than you give yourself.
2. Redefine your routine. This summer, camps are canceled, ball season isn’t happening, and you have to analyze whether you feel safe inviting people into your home or accepting an invitation.
Those typical summer “joys” like camp, being part of a team, and fun family trips are about connection. But, you’ve already spent a lot of time together as a family...without a break from each other.
- This summer create new habits and make sure the routine includes care for YOU. Seek opportunities without feeling pressured to make it elaborate. Explore the local park you haven’t taken the time to see
- Put up the tent in the backyard and create a camp experience as a family with a sing-along and smores by the campfire
- Just hang out next to your kid as they’re playing (and you read a book or stare into the distance)
- Create a daily practice of sharing time at the dinner table where everyone talks about the best part of their day
- Call the babysitter and take time off from managing the kids
3. Grant yourself permission to feel. You may find yourself exhausted with simple tasks and easily annoyed by MOM, DAD where are you? Whatever you are experiencing, it’s okay. And it is allowed.
Although we have all experienced the events of the last few months differently the one thing we have shared is stress. Collectively, our stress response has been in a more reactive state since the beginning of the pandemic and it continues to get reactivated with the increasingly stressful situations.
Find opportunities for rest and social connection. Seek ways to support your adrenal glands and your own well-being. It’s important now more than ever to remember your needs and put yourself first.
Parenting is hard work but you are enough as you are and you are not alone. If you need support to find your footing and navigate this difficult period we are here for you. You can set up a parent coaching consultation here.
Jeanine Long is a Mad to Glad certified parent coach and psychotherapist at Samantha Moe and Associates. Her heart is highly tuned to families’ emotional needs and she uses her yoga background to compassionately lead everyone to a calmer place. She loves spending time with her four amazing nieces and nephew in Wichita, Kansas -- time outdoors -- or with her nose in a book. Her motto is You are enough and you are not alone.
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